In a conversation I had with Blake “VAR legal counsel” Hegeman the other day, he explained that he and his wife weren’t buying new stuff — they were saving their money. “What kind of American are you?” I asked. We don’t save; the average American has eight credit cards (!) and is about $8,000 in debt. (And here I felt silly when I had a Visa and and an Amex.)

It gets worse.

One of the (many) things wrong with the idea of requiring 20% down for a government-backed mortgage is the simple fact that too many people simply couldn’t come up with the cash ($50,000 for a $250,000 home!). In fact, according to today’s Atlantic Wire, half of Americans couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they needed to.

[R]esearchers from the George Washington School of Business, Princeton University, and Harvard Business School asked survey participants whether they would be able to come up with $2,000 for an “unexpected expense in the next month.” 22.2 percent predicted they would be “probably unable” and 27.9 percent said they’d certainly be unable to foot the unplanned bill.

So how many do you think could come up with 25 or 30 times that amount for a down payment?