The treadmill of consumerism is fueled by slick marketing campaigns for consumer products (SUVs for example). Over time people are slowly seduced by powerful images (a lone SUV in the wilderness, for example). Since most people cannot buy one of them "bling bling" SUVs out right, credit card providers have their own slick marketing campaigns that state a person can play now and pay later for life's priceless moments.
So there ya have the fixings of the consumerism cycle. Someone sees an ad for a product they think is their answer to happiness (a Ford Explorer for example), then they see an ad for a credit card that allows them to pay later for better lifestyle now. They buy the Explorer on credit, then they discover the Explorer does not live up to the image shown in the ad. They see another SUV ad (this time for a Hummer), use credit to buy it and the cycle continues on, and on, and on....
If ya think of debt as a kind of explosive in a bomb, then credit cards allow a person build up lots of debt or explosive power. Mismanaged debt in the long run is like a ticking time bomb, if there is just a little mismanaged debt and something goes wrong, the minor explosive result might be a late fee. If a person becomes credit card addicted and builds up lots of unmanageable debt and something goes wrong, the consequences might be a very painful emotional roller coaster (which credit card ads never portray) and bankruptcy.
Easy credit, particularly of the past few years, encourages people to borrow without considering their ability to repay or how long it will take to repay. While unmanageable consumer debt is a pretty explosive force that eventually impacts the individual, friends and family, a bigger problem might be U.S. debt which according to the IMF, is a threat to world.