Americans face a difficult dilemma right now. On the one hand, there's no question that the profligate investment practices of the financial sector not only caused the credit crisis, but allowed for the shockingly inappropriate compensation decisions of companies like American International Group (AIG) and Merrill Lynch. The natural temptation is to exact revenge as deeply and broadly as possible. On the other hand, it's also true that giving in to any such impulse that punishes the sector as a whole could have grave consequences for the hoped-for recovery.
In order for the economy to heal, the financial and credit markets must heal. And in order for the markets to heal, Americans must get over their antipathy toward financial professionals and allow them to do what they do best: make money.