I thought this video was hilarious the first time I saw it. In fact, I still find it pretty funny:
Then I thought about what my life would have been like had I never used loans or credit cards to buy things I couldn't afford to pay for with cash. I still wouldn't have a house, for one thing. I remember the day that I first got a full-time job (I was 28) and one of the first things I did was get rid of a horrible, unreliable 15-year-old hand-me-down car with sporadic electrical problems. Though I spent four years paying $400 a month for the privilege of driving a new car, I still love the car and plan to keep driving it as long as I can. Some weeks, the prohibition "don't buy stuff you cannot afford" might have included groceries. I also got student loans for the final year of my Ph.D. because I decided that I might never finish if I kept trying to work full-time and finish my dissertation.
I still want to get out of debt, at least the "bad debt." Despite all the mess with the mortgage market, I still feel like my house was a good purchase, even if I might owe more than it's worth on paper at this moment in time. I know that I made some unwise purchases with credit cards, and my husband made a lot too. We try to be frugal most of the time now, though we do splurge from time to time. It's going to take a while to fully pay off the debt and I have to live the best I can in the meantime.
I guess it's like dieting -- because everything is, right? Losing weight is simple: "Burn more calories than you eat." I remember when the new, completely unintuitive food pyramid was released by the USDA, it contained a certain amount of discretionary calories (basically, splurge calories). A particularly snotty "expert" was asked how many discretionary calories people who were overweight got. "None! They've already eaten them all!" Ha ha ha ha. (I'm sorry, I can't find a link, you'll have to trust me). Funny, right?
Only if you think budgeting/watching your calories is a punishment that people deserve for being "bad," rather than a sensible way for ordinary people to live. If so, maybe you should consider that everyone makes mistakes.