This is a question I have asked myself many times since learning more about my own finances. I don't have the answer, but I do have some ideas.
If all young people started life much more knowledgeable about their own finances, what would the credit card companies do? Talk about a market loss! I look at all the mistakes I have made financially (and still do make!) as well as my peers and it baffles me. Many times credit cards were mentioned to me in an offhand way, without stressing responsible usage. Why couldn't there be some actual coverage in the education system? It seems it would be a perfectly good spot to make math "relevant" which I personally found myself struggling with when I was younger. Heck, I still don't like math that much, but I understand the power of compound interest now! The earlier someone can learn that lesson, the better.
Think about the thousands in interest payments that could be saved by just encouraging people to "live within their means." As a concept, that just means don't spend more than you earn. I definitely struggle with this concept, and I know many of my friends do as well. There is a pervasive "keep up with the Joneses" mentality in much of our culture in America, and this attitude should be questioned. Who really wants you to spend more money than you earn and keep yourself in debt? This is what the financial industry is fantastic at! The problem (as we have seen recently) is when people become so indebted that they can't even make their payments.
Is this what America is about?
Wouldn't the other side of it be a more productive road? What if more people took their own finances seriously, and made it a priority instead of an afterthought?
The bankers might not like that very much, but I think you would!