So screw those who got screwed! That’s the old blame-the-homeowners chestnut modified to acknowledge the preyed-upon but put them down the list of priorities—as if they were on top anyway.

All this twisted logic begets a twisted conclusion:

Rather than stop lenders from hurting consumers, the first priority should be to keep the banks from harming themselves.

No, that’s wrong, and it’s captured thinking. The point of a banking system in an economy is to serve consumers, not to serve itself profits. They’ve knifed consumers with near-impunity for too long. Suggesting that the stability of the financial system should be prioritized over protecting consumers is wrong—and a false choice.

What a mess.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.