[W]hatever one [thinks] should be done with large financial institutions as a policy matter, surely we [can] agree that the executives at these institutions are primarily bad people. … These are people primarily motivated in life by greed. Not just by a desire to make some scratch, mind you. … They’re multi-millionaires who want to earn millions more. …

[I]t’s a sign, I think, of a kind of sickness running through American society that we’ve lost the willingness to just say clearly that ceteris paribus greedy behavior is not virtuous behavior. In the spirit of decency, of course, we recognize that none of us are without sin. It would be crazy to try to condemn everyone who’s ever done anything greedy to the gallows. But the fact still remains that greedy behavior is not admirable behavior and that, as Krugman says, it’s very unlikely that the “best” young people were going into finance. And to say that they’re not necessarily good people need not entail that they’re criminals. Simply the fact that the best people are people who aren’t primarily driven by greed.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.