Because if you get into the actual gory details of what went on in those years, there’s just no way you come out of that story not wanting to see every banker on Wall Street strung up by his testicles. The crimes of this era were monstrous thieveries, committed against ordinary people in a highly systematic and organized fashion with the aid and compliance of a bought-off government, and the only way you can not perceive what happened as a profound indictment of capitalism is if you blow off the specifics entirely and try to hide the details in vague, airy words like “irresponsibility” and “excesses.”
Because the specifics matter. It’s one thing to say that Citi wasted some of the money taxpayers sent its way via the bailout; it’s another thing to say Citi wasted some of the taxpayers’ money by upholstering the pillows on the private jet Sandy Weill took to Mexico over Christmas vacation with Hermes scarves. It’s one thing to say Wall Street bankers felt pressure to chase profits; it’s another thing to say they achieved those profits by systematically robbing a whole generation of pensioners and working-class homeowners, under the noses of the politicians they bought with tens of millions in campaign contributions.
Matt Taibbi, on Fareed Zakaria, in True/Slant