Everyone's panicking about falling share prices and the fate of the economy this week.
I don't pretend to understand economics. I really can't see how something as ephemeral as the (lack of) 'confidence' of bods on the stockmarket floor can have an impact on the price of veg at Tescos. But I do understand that the greed of US and UK financial companies in dishing out massive amounts of credit and the gullibility, avarice and consumerism of borrowers, has landed us up in a big mess.
You don't need to be a clairvoyant to have seen this coming. Where I live, I'm surrounded by low-income families driving around in BMWs with personalised number plates, sporting 'designer' clothes, trolling off on holidays to Florida, building hot tubs in their gardens and out purchasing the latest HD tv as if it's a life necessity.
It's almost endemic. Last month a friend of mine told me of a lady who comes to clean for her. This lady has 4 children, she cleans for a few hours a week and has a husband on disability benefit. She told my friend how she was having to 'cut back' on Christmas presents for the kids this year and was only spending £100 per child. That's cutting back??
I'm pretty sure that our household income is higher than hers, but there's no way I'd think of spending £100 on each child. I can only think she used the credit card.
I know it sounds a little precious and pompous, but this level of materialism really bothers me. Don't these people realise that they have to pay the money back eventually? Don't they realise that showering their kids with expensive items at Christmas doesn't make them happier, better, more rounded children, but just future victims of shallow consumerism? It's just all wrong.
It's not just low-income families who get in this mess either. On Radio 4 I heard an ex-journalist for the Times describing how his credit borrowing spiralled to such an extent that he ended up without his wife and kids, without his home, out on the streets and without a job.
The sad truth of all this though is that it's not only the borrowers who end up suffering in the long run. Now we are all paying for it.
But in a peverse way, I welcome the 'credit squeeze'. It's about time someone pointed out that you shouldn't buy what you can't afford. Simple as that. (um..except for a house of course!).