In this world there are people who are grass, tree, and cloud. A grass will not be happy as a cloud, and a cloud will not be happy as grass. Figure out what you want to be and go live your life accordingly. Being money rich and time poor is not happiness, neither is rotting on your couch like an old potato. Be thankful that there are people who wake up every day at 8am and go to work, without them you wouldn't have running water from the tap, electricity from the outlet, and airplanes at the airport.
Traditionally, marriage is a cultural product that gave men exclusive sexual access to his wife (or wives or concubines), and assurance that any children born from the union are his. From the women's perspective, marriage means protection of her children's rights under legitimacy law. Up until the 1970s, common law still dictated that only legitimate children could inherit their fathers' estates. Illegitimate children born outside of wedlock wasn't just a social stigma, there are financial consequences for the children later. But times changed, laws changed, and the rest is history. If you get married today, you're more likely to marry into debt instead of assets or dowry.
On subject of mortgages, many people have difficulty seeing their home (roof over head) as a liability. Americans are horrible at saving money, and some justify their mortgage as "savings" by putting equity into their homes, so they can use it for retirement later. Well, if people got 15 year fixed rate loans and paid them off, I'd agree with that statement. But that's not reality. The reality is that most buyers get 30 year loans, refi them after x number of years, and sell their homes and move to another one before paying off the loan. On a 30-year loan, 90% of your payment in year 1 goes toward loan interest to the bank, only ~10% goes toward equity (!). So if you made $10,000 worth of payments to your bank, the bank keeps $9,000 in interst for themselves (of which you get a tax deduction), and only $1,000 goes into the equity in year #1 of a 30-year loan. Does that sound like savings to you?
If you follow Robert Kiyosaki's cash flow ideology, most material things that cost $ are liabilities, and only those generating a profit are assets. So your home with a mortgage cost you money and is a liability, vs an investment property that generates positive cashflow is an asset. Mortgages can be a tool toward passive income, but only if you buy a cash-flow positive investment property. If you bought a house with 30-year loan & monthly payment of $700, and was able to rent the house out for $1,200 per month, you're doing well. Over time the rent will go up, but your 30-year fixed rate loan payment will stay the same.
The first condo that I bought more than 10 years ago has a 30-year fixied rate loan payment of $980/month (P+I), back in 2001 I rented it out to a tenant for $1250/month. Today in 2011, I can rent the condo out for $1500-$1,600/month. However, factoring in property taxes, property management fees, HOA fees (>$200/mo), etc., it's still not a very profitable purchase. I've learned since and the properties that I buy today are all SFR's with no HOA or very low HOA (~$50/mo), and much better cash flow.
Back during the RE bubble era, it was difficult to impossible for many to save enough to afford property. But the market as crash and is still going down. Today older 3/2 SFR's in California along the I-15 can be had in the low $100,000's. If you work hard in the US and save $, you can afford to buy such properties for investment. It's far less risky than giving your life savings to your friends with get-rich-quick (TM) schemes. It's difficult to make sufficient RE passive cashflow in the US to offset all your expenses IF you live in expensive areas like Southern CA or Paris -- it's much harder to secure a mortgage from the bank today than before. But your passive income comes in handy supplementing your regular income, and if you choose to move to a cheaper place, you can probably exit the rat race early and retire.
On question of ethics as a property investor, you should not forget that you're profiting at the expense of others on something that is fundamental to living -- shelter. Someone else is working hard M-F 8am-5pm and sending you a rent check every month, while you sit on your ass playing video games. Be nice to your tenant and know that it cost more to get a new tenant than the small sum you might gain from raising rent -- raise the rent upfront with a new tenant and not the existing one if possible.
As an investor, you can also have a positive role in the local community by purchasing fixer uppers and rehabilitating properties.