Two reasons for the level of personal indebtedness - both the result of government policy:

(1) mortgage interest rate tax deductability - encourages people to buy homes which as a corollary, also fuels asset bubbles

(2) historical inflation - in the past because inflation was so high, it made more sense to spend money - even borrow and spend than it was to save because you would literally lose money putting it in the bank or stuffing it in the mattress as everything else kept costing more.

While government debt sits at 94 percent of national revenue, U.S. household debt sits at a whopping 107 percent of personal income. The household balance sheets of Americans are in worse condition than anytime since the Great Depression. The ratio of household debt-to-GDP is greater than anytime since 1929. And while we all are trying to comprehend a poorer nation, many American's have not yet comprehended their own personal poverty.

A burger today? From the early 1940s through the late 1960s, an ethos of saving before spending ruled the roost. If you sought to buy a house, 20 percent was required for a down payment. Similarly, substantial savings were required to buy a car, and home furnishings, clothing, and more were paid for primarily with cash. By the 1970s, however, rampant inflation helped form a debt culture that found footing and gained steam.