In Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," the irrational regulations of an incompetent government progressively wreck the economy. The government and a like-minded press respond with further denunciations of "greed" and still more onerous layers of regulation, until society collapses completely.

With Democratic leaders rushing to blame Wall Street's "greed" for the unfolding credit crisis, life is imitating art. Greed, to be sure, is always with us, but greed, alone, can't wreck an economy. At the same time, effective regulation can promote the public good while misguided regulation invariably harms it. Democrats might ask themselves whether the collapsed and bailed-out mortgage leviathans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't a perfect example. Misguided government interventions in the economy do more to harm the public good than private greed ever could.

Thomas J. Eastmond

Costa Mesa, Calif.