Something strange is happening to stigma. It appears to be under attack from capitalism.
In the good old days, getting oneself into an embarrassing predicament was potentially stigmatizing and it kept many people from making dumb choices or from acting with unacceptable degrees of short sightedness or self-interest. Sure, stigma has always had certain downsides but it has also kept many people on a straight and narrow social path and has played a valuable role in society by punishing certain behaviors that are frowned upon by society.
For example, it used to be that over-consumption and reckless financial decisions that might lead to personal bankruptcy were discouraged by the potential embarrassment of such a consequence. The stigma of personal bankruptcy was something to be avoided. Now, I hear advertisements all day long stating that "bankruptcy can happen to anyone"; I guess it's just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The prevailing attitude seems to be "go ahead and buy that boat, if you can't make the payments, just declare bankruptcy and move on." Nothing to be embarrassed about -- there are many law firms and financial planning agencies, driven by their profit motives, ready to help you file the paperwork.
I know we have endured quite a rough economic period and that some people have been caught short-handed despite their adherence to a fairly conservative financial strategy. Nonetheless, I worry about how much worse it could get if declaring bankruptcy really becomes something with no personal responsibility nor shame attached.