Tilting at Windmills

March/April 2012 Keeping score on Wall Street

By Charles Peters

“Even for those making seven figures or more, cuts are ‘a blow,’ ” writes James B. Stewart of the New York Times. Here Stewart is quoting Michael Driscoll, a former trader who is trying to explain why Wall Streeters find reduced bonuses disturbing: “The effect is psychological. To a large extent, Wall Street keeps score by what you’re paid.” Of course, this is exactly what’s wrong with Wall Street. The game is just about making money, without regard for the social utility of how the money is made or seemingly anything else, except staying out of jail—and sometimes they are even a little careless about that.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.