A reader writes:

You're right, it should not always be a crisis when the market adjusts after a bubble.  Real estate and many stocks are still too high.  But as non-participants in recent bubbles (we rent and don't invest in vapor technology), we have not been rewarded.  Our income has been flat or falling, our conservative investments plummeted, and low interest rates assure few viable low risk savings alternatives.

Yes, being debt-free will (hopefully) allow us to suffer less than many.  But why does massive stupidity by some always result in universal punishment?  You make it sound like everyone benefited from the overindulgence.  We did not, but fully share the overdue hangover.

That's a very fair point. We don't all equally deserve this recession; but equally many of us who didn't load ourselves up with debt we couldn't repay enjoyed the material gains of the last two decades - from iPods to the Internet. And collectively we had it coming. What I liked about the austerity of Obama's Inaugural was that he almost said it in those terms.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.