My parents were very keen on the idea of savings. If I or my brothers wanted some new toy or what-have-you, we were told to save up some money and buy it. Occasionally it would be, "if you can save half, we'll pay the rest". Whatever it was, we were raised on the idea that you can't have everything straight away. It's a message that's still kind of hard wired into me.
But when, as an adult, I was able to buy a flat my parents didn't tell me that I was making a terrible mistake and that I shouldn't get into that much debt. They didn't tell me that I should save up all the money first and that only then should I be able to buy a property. A mortgage isn't the kind of debt I was raised to be scared of. It's the kind of debt I was raised to aspire to.
But it is a kind of debt.
I was thinking about this on my way in to work this morning. Because one of the things I keep hearing in this election campaign is about the various parties' plans to eliminate the deficit. And when I hear the phrase it sounds like common sense. Because debt is bad. Just like my parents taught me.
But then not all debt is bad. A mortgage - one you can afford, at least - is sensible debt. It makes more sense to live somewhere and pay for it while you're doing so, than it does to go without.
And it feels like Great Britain is doing quite a lot of going-without at the moment. And the excuse for all these austerity measures - all this cruelty - is that these cuts are necessary. These are tough decisions that nobody wants to make. It's time to tighten our belts. Etc etc.We must eliminate the deficit.
But isn't that, y'know, a load of bollocks? It seems to me that we really shouldn't be trying to eliminate the deficit. In fact, I'm pretty sure we ought to have a deficit. If we're paying for things that will exist for generations, the cost of those things should spread across the generations. Especially when the alternative is to go without. Great Britain ought to have a mortgage. And spending money on educating people and keeping them healthy seems like the best way of ensuring that future generations will be able to keep up the payments.