Listen to the punditry's assessment of "who is to blame" for the current economic decline we're suffering.
It's the banks' fault.
It's George Bush's fault.
It's the Democrats' fault.
It's the Federal Reserve's fault.
Hell, Ralph Nader even manages to blame Ayn Rand some 27 years after her death.
Some friendly advice, America...
If you want to find the real cause of the economic collapse, the average Joe need only look in the mirror.
Real wages have been flat since the 1960s, but housing prices exploded in an obvious bubble.
But you still signed mortgages that you didn't bother to read or understand, with terms that you couldn't pay. Why?
Because you didn't want to think about it.
Flat wages didn't prevent you from increasing your tastes in automobiles, going from 0.9 per household to 1.6 in just 15 years -- and the average cost of those automobiles doubling in real terms in that timeline.
Flat wages didn't stop you from ballooning your credit card debt for stuff you didn't need.
And stop insisting that you were hoodwinked and "weren't warned."
People pointed out for YEARS that there was a housing bubble.
Friends and family who were more economically prudent reminded you that it might not be a good idea to borrow $1 million to buy a small home in California when you only make 10% of the total principle and had no down payment at all.
When Uncle Ed advised that the $70,000 wedding you were planning in the Bahamas, paid for with HELOC money you "took out of the house" was a bad idea, he was a "party pooper."
When Suze Orman said that "you can't afford that," you turned off the cable TV ($150 a month), grabbed your $500 iPhone ($160 a month), grabbed the credit card (29.99% APR), and headed down to the Christiana Mall to spend, spend, spend! And when you hit your limit at the Swarowski store, you called MBNA on the spot and requested a credit limit increase.
You didn't brag about how much money you saved, how you reduced prices on everyday items to increase savings, or even how much money you made. Instead, you bragged at parties about your credit score -- a meaningless number that assesses nothing other than how much money you can BORROW.
You dug yourselves into a hole you couldn't get out of, while having a negative savings rate. You bolstered your standard of living, temporarily, on debt that you had NO IDEA how to repay. People who warned you about it were killjoys and curmudgeons and besides, if things went bad, the government would fix it, right?
None of the groups or individuals blamed -- Bush, Clinton, Greenspan, Rand, the Democrats, the Republicans, the banks, the Illuminati, Britney Spears -- forced you to do that. None of them forced you to sign suicidal mortgage contracts, or borrow $100K on your credit cards.
You decided, against good sense, to do it, because "everyone else was doing it."
The situation is not the fault of those who didn't protect idiots from themselves. It's the fault of the idiots who got into the mess in the first place. That would be, with rather rare exceptions, most of us.