"Go ahead, charge it. Plastico fantastico, baby."
That's what a freewheeling buddy of mine used to say. I don't think he's that careless anymore but, if the numbers are to be believed, millions more of us have yet to bust out of our plastic prisons.
To the contrary; we're building them bigger. Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve reported that U.S. consumers borrowed $13.2 billion in June, more than double what economists had projected.
Actually, it's worse than that. The Fed had projected $12.9 billion in credit card spending in May. Now we know that it was closer to $15.9 billion. All told, we Americans owe more than $2.46 trillion. That's roughly $8,200 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.
Folks, haven't we learned anything? The only ones who benefit from this debt deluge are lean-and-mean retailers, along with those fat-and-happy bankers over at Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , American Express (NYSE: AXP ) , and Citigroup (NYSE: C ) .
Believe me, I know. My wife and I are still more than $60,000 in debt. I frequently work double-shifts at odd hours in order to make up lost ground. Experience tells me it will take at least three years to fully dig out of this hole we're in.
But we're lucky. A four-person household takes home just $46,326 annually, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet that same group, by the numbers, would owe $34,000 in revolving loans. They'd be lucky to dig free in a decade.
If, that is, they dig free at all. Plastico fantastico? Nope. Plastico disastro is more like it, Fool.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.
Bank of America and Washington Mutual are Income Investor recommendations.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers won't rest till he's slain the debt dragon once and for all. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy gives credit where it's due and takes credit where it may.