I strongly believe ignorance and unrealistic attitudes play a major role. Like a lot of ghetto people, I grew up seeing money as a status symbol, and a means to live a life of luxury. When I had to support myself, I was forced to become tight-fisted and stingy. I then learned the hard way that true wealth is not how much you earn and the fancy things on which you spend it, but the way you budget your income and how much of your money is working for you.
Ideally, when kids set out on their own, they should have job skills that can earn them a decent living in their area and a MINIMUM of one month's income in a passbook savings account. Before buying a house, you should have a YEAR'S income in the bank. You should start saving for retirement as soon as you get your first job, aiming to live solely off the interest of your investments. If everyone did that, passing on their retirement accounts to their children after they die, we would soon have a very wealthy society.
P.S. Regarding the national debt - "He is rich who owes nothing." ~ French / Hungarian Proverb.