It’s no secret the electorate is an impatient, fickle lot. In good times when real estate is booming and the stock market is providing mouth-watering returns on investments, it tends to ignore political imperfections. But good times or bad, election-day judgments often just express satisfaction or disgust rather than carefully developed insights.

For folks who hung onto businesses and homes during the depression, paying off a mortgage when prosperity returned was a measure of success. Big wage earners several generations later, however, thought it rank foolishness to be fully invested in one’s home instead of The Market. They could be called the leveraged society borrowing against what they assumed was a never-ending source of funds for whatever tickled their fancy. And the folks on Wall Street were said to be the smartest people around. Even today, big banks insist huge salaries and bonuses are required to retain talent, a baffling assertion in light of financial-industry machinations that ushered in a deep recession – – not exactly any commonly understood definition of talent.