It has long struck me that the sub-mortgage meltdown is just another manifestation of "the death of the grown-up" in our time. Remember when bankers were the very caricature of sober-suited caution, reliability and all-around straight-and-narrow business sense? If it wasn't a sure thing, it wouldn't fly.
Not too long ago, I watched The Best Years of Our Lives (pictured above), which chronicles the post-war readjustment period of three returning WWII vets, and noted the scene in which back-to-banking Frederick March (on the right) decides to take a maverick's chance on a loan to an ex-GI with no collateral, much to the agitation of the bank president. In our subprime crisis, such white-knuckle banking has been practically the norm. And why not? We are all creatures of our time. In the absence of adults, how could Wall Street not fall victim to the childlike cult of instant gratification? The question is, How to make it grow up? Lollipop-like government bailouts are probably not the answer.