Some Citizens Advice Bureau person was on the radio early yesterday banging on about all the people asking for help with their debts.

It was a plea for much-needed volunteers.

I drowsily missed some of it, but Philip Allen, an insolvency practitioner in Birmingham, thinks he heard her say that many individuals imagine that a high APR is something that will make it easier for them to pay off their loans quickly.

The APR is a concept much criticised in the trade, but the implication was that some borrowers understand so little about what they are doing that the suppose are better off with a higher rate of interest. Maybe they overheard their elders arguing about which building society pays them the "best" rate. Small wonder they end up asking the CAB for help.

It is fashionable to conclude that we have spawned a generation of feckless idiots, deliberately led astray by rapa- cious banks which never bothered to check whether an individual stood a serious chance of repaying a debt.

They weeded out some truly preposterous credit card applications and priced their money to the rest so that they would make a fat profit regardless.

Well, so they thought.

Plainly there has been some of this, witness the 1.7 million people who took their debt worries to CAB last year.

Yet by not all those who use credit cards to the hilt - "maxing" the young call it - are a silly as they are cracked up to be. They may not be taught the pru- dent niceties of "personal finance" at school, but university loans give them first-hand experience of living with debt.

They may calculate that home ownership will never be within their reach.

They see no point in saving to buy their own place because house prices rise faster than they can save.

Anyway, their best chance of a raising a deposit is persuading a parent to re-mortgage the family home.

If they do get into a squeeze, until very recently, money was plentiful.

They could always apply for another card and borrow a bit more.

It does not necessarily end badly. Most face reality while they can still do something about it.

Those that cannot, know they can switch on daytime TV and watch the ads telling them how to wriggle out of some or all of their debt with an IVA or by going bankrupt.

It may not be edifying, but it is the Government that went out of its way to make it so.

Before 1986, bankruptcy was a harsh experience, lasting seven years before you could go to court for a discharge.

Then it was three years - until, Mr Allen recalls, Peter Mandelson went to Silicon Valley and was dazzled.

Californian dotcom entrepreneurs told him how they went bankrupt, dusted themselves down and tried again.

That was what we need in Britain, he persuaded his Cabinet colleagues and Parliament, a system that gives enterprise a second chance.

Nowadays, 90 per cent of bankrupts are consumers, not entrepreneurs.

Our rulers judged it a price worth paying. So blame them, not the credit- happy young, nor even the wicked banks.