Here in Britain, we like spending money. Not so keen on earning it first - we tend to buy our must-have consumer items on credit. Or, as it should be accurately described - debt.
A shock report published this week has revealed that we owe so much cash that we proudly sit a-top the biggest debt mountain in Europe. The average Briton now nestles in the red to the tune of 6 thousand dollars. This is not mortgage money we owe -- that's extra -- but rather the stuff of high interest credit cards and loan arrangements with ruthless banks.
And it seems the poorer you are, the poorer you are going to get by borrowing more and more money to get out of debt. In fact it could take an average of 77 years for the most burdened Brit to climb back into the black, as many of those drowning under indefensibly high interest rates are earning less than half the average wage.
It's easy to see how we got lured into buying expensive money. The green stuff is now sold to us in merciless ways. Many of your American banks who set up branches here have brought with them high pressure, hi-gloss selling techniques – the like of which us poor unsophisticated Brits have rarely seen.
Unearned money is now so easy to get hold of that, while researching this item, I was offered an extra 32 thousand dollars on my 3 credit cards – an unsecured loan of 47 thousand dollars and an almost limitless amount of money secured against my house. With not much thought to how I pay it all back, I could be wandering down a high street near you in a day or two with my eyes bulging as much as my debt fattened bank account.
But I won't be doing that because I am not stupid. I am not suggesting that all debt is down to stupid greed – some is genuinely run up trying to borrow a way out of a really bad time. But it has to be said that most debt IS stupid greed, piled on top of a brain emptier of thought than a wallet of cash.
YOUR household debt mountain is nothing to be proud of either. In fact in this – as in other shameful world behaviors, our two countries stand hand in fiscal glove.
by Petrie Hosken
Copyright 2006 CBS. All rights reserved.