If you were an investment banker, wouldn't you take your bonus?
Of course you would. You're in it for the wonga, aren't you? You're not there to provide some kind of social service, for goodness sake. For the hours you work, the tedium of what you do, and the ease with which a bad quarter can see you sacked, you deserve it.
It wasn't you who personally brought the financial system crashing down, so why should you pay the price now?
And there are no bragging rights in Soho wine bars to be had from handing your pay packet back to the group finance director to park in the bank's Basel-friendly capital reserves.
This may not be the orthodox view of investment bankers, but it seems worth saying that looking after Number One comes naturally for them - as, indeed, it does for quite a lot of us. They are only behaving rationally, within the internal logic of their super-charged world.
Perhaps we need to change the question - not why are they awarding themselves such huge bonuses, but why are they making such large profits from which to draw those bonuses?
One reason is pretty clear this morning in a report from the Office of Fair Trading. Investment banks are basically over-charging their corporate clients with inflated fees.
This is in the business of under-writing equity. It's one of the roles of investment banking - marketing new share equity in a client company and, in the rare event that there aren't enough takers, you promise to pick up the shortfall.
The OFT has found that the market isn't working effectively. Between 2003 and 2007 - before the crunch - fees rose from 2% or 2.5%, up to 3%. That's not much of an increase, you'd have thought.
But it's a lot of wonga when you consider that, in 2009, share issues in Britain raised about £50bn, and the fees charged amounted to £1.4bn.
It could be explained by increased market volatility, but the OFT observes that subsequent reduced volatility doesn't seem to have been matched by reduced fees.
Why is this allowed to happen? The OFT says it's because the client companies don't pay enough attention to fees, preferring to focus on making the share equity work smoothly. They don't do many share issues, so they lack the expertise and adequate knowledge to negotiate a good deal with banks. And institutional investors are not sufficiently active in questioning why such high fees are paid.
But surely there's more than that. Couldn't it also be because there's not enough competition in investment banking. The excessive profits being made by these banks, and reflected in ludicrously high bonuses, are because the market isn't functioning properly.
In any other market with excess profits, newcomers would be attracted into the business, and prices would be driven down. But not investment banks, where the barriers to market entry are formidable.
The OFT is recommending the answer to this market failure is for clients to become more active in negotiating better deals. It's not recommending a reference to the Competition Commission.
But is that sufficient? Isn't the answer to these excess profits to tackle the cause rather than the symptom, and to challenge the dominance of so few global players in investment banking?
It's something that might be usefully considered by the Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, which has just released the submissions it's been sent.
There's an eye-catching proposal from Sir George Mathewson that Royal Bank of Scotland should be split from NatWest. This is a strange one, given that Sir George and his protege, one Fred Goodwin, made the takeover of NatWest the deal from which they extracted immense value, catapulting Edinburgh-based RBS into the international big league.
The Royal's become a by-word for corporate hubris since then, but if it hadn't been for the subsequent ABN Amro deal, it might still be the proud flag-carrier for Scotland's ambition to build global businesses.
Eleven years on from his buccaneering takeover, having been chairman of the Scottish government's Council of Economic Advisers and now scunnered by the lending practices of the big banks to the smaller companies with which he's now involved, Sir George is persuaded of the case for making RBS back into a Scottish bank for Scottish customers. What does that say about national economic ambitions?
Likewise, he doesn't only want to de-merge Lloyds TSB from Halifax Bank of Scotland - which merged in a rush in late 2009, building a 30% share of the British retail market - but to split Halifax from Bank of Scotland. Again, it's to create a Scottish headquartered bank.
Break-up or open up
Sir Peter Burt, former chief executive of the Bank of Scotland, who did the deal that merged it with Halifax, is less clear what should happen to his former charge. He's strongly against creditors being forced to take the pain of a bank's collapse, while observing that it would make more sense to split up mega-banks vertically than horizontally - thus keeping investment and retail elements together, but having more of them in competition, instead of splitting investment from retail operations.
Lloyds Banking Group, which took over HBOS and its colossal lending problems, is (predictably) opposed to break-up, even though its 30% share of the retail market is seen as bad for British banking.
But it offers some concessions to the Independent Commission, such as a much easier system for switching current accounts, instant switches of ISA accounts and printing the prevailing interest rate on all statements. That way, customers would quickly see when introductory interest rate offers have been cut back, close to zero.
It could start the latter without delay, without waiting for the Commission's recommendations - so why not?
I've also read, several times, the submission to Sir John Vickers by John Swinney, Scotland's finance secretary. And I'm none the wiser as to whether the Scottish Government wants to see Royal Bank of Scotland broken up or not.
It wants better lending to small businesses, and more competition, but it isn't saying if that should mean a break-up of the giant, with consequent impact on its Edinburgh headquarters.
It's a big question on which to be silent.