Paul Krugman does a nice dissection of the wake of the Madoff financial scandal.
In my own years in college I ran into many extremely bright people — far smarter than I could ever claim to be, really — but whose ambitions were essentially to graduate and then go to work for a big company and make a lot of money, or run the company and make even more money. Isn't it a failure of imagination to not think of much of anything else to do with one's intellect except turn it into a cash cow? (And, from what I've seen, when your mentality is at that level for openers, you run out of things to do with that money in the first place except buy overpriced versions of everything you already have.)
I'm not arguing here that poverty is somehow ennobling, or anything that stupid; I'm just frustrated that we don't do enough to make other kinds of work for such people. And at the risk of sounding like I'm contradicting myself, it should be decently-paid work. Not golden-parachute level pay, but enough to live comfortably and provide for the future. One of my best teachers in high school had to part-time it in a women's apparel store to make ends meet. He wasn't a stupid man, or a bad teacher; he had just picked a career that was desperately underfunded, and I didn't blame him for being cynical.
I'm not against capitalism or free markets; I don't see how I could be, given that I've made a living myself because of such things. I'm just disgusted with the whole way we've unthinkingly built whole careers, businesses and economies on top of wealth that's entirely fictional — except for the men who draw $150 million paychecks to keep it running, and get $20 million lifeboats when they mistakenly burn it all to the ground. And I have trouble seeing how anyone can not be disgusted by this.