Paul Krugman's column about Ponzi schemes is good. Two highlighted quotes:
"In recent years the finance sector accounted for 8 percent of America’s G.D.P., up from less than 5 percent a generation earlier. If that extra 3 percent was money for nothing — and it probably was — we’re talking about $400 billion a year in waste, fraud and abuse."When I was finishing my B.S. in Physics, I felt a bit foolish heading off to Astro grad school -- when my classmates were off to jobs at Wall Street investment banks, large consulting firms, and internet start-ups. And several of the junior scientists I'd met left academia for hedge funds.
"Meanwhile, how much has our nation’s future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?"
Then came the tech bust, the accounting scandals, and now the financial meltdown. So now my choice looks less obviously financially dumb than it did. But it would be nice if young scientists were paid at levels that allowed, as Krugman says, "our best & brightest young people" to go into science. A post-doc salary in L.A. doesn't go far....