Should bankers repay bonuses?
Here's the argument for why no senior banker should receive a bonus, perhaps for several years.
This is not to say that all bonuses are the devil's currency and should be outlawed.
But it's about the idea that a bonus should be a reward for exceptional performance.
And the reality is that there is no big bank in the western hemisphere whose share price hasn't fallen in the past 18 months.
In other words, the senior executives of our banks have been responsible for the destruction of wealth (the wealth of anyone whose pension scheme is invested in shares) on an unprecedented, mind-blowing scale.
Since the owners of banks have been impoverished (and, to repeat, millions saving for retirement are owners of banks), it's very difficult to see how senior executives of banks should receive a penny of bonus.
There's a double argument why über-bankers should not be paid even a farthing of performance-related remuneration - and this argument can be extrapolated from no less august a source than the recent magisterial speech by Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority.
It's that almost every senior banker trousered bonuses over the previous few years on the basis of profits that turn out to be a chimera, an illusion, unreal.
The point - which is implicit in Turner's analysis - is that banks' wholesale banking and treasury operations booked as profit both capital gain and income from assets that have subsequently turned out to be poisonous.
Much of this capital gain never crystallised, it was not converted into cash. Yet bonuses - in the form of hard cash and shares - were paid out on the basis of this nebulous capital gain.
Over the past 18 months, these assets - the collateralised debt obligations, the credit default swaps, and so on - have generated mind-bogglingly huge capital losses, which have hobbled not only individual banks but the entire global financial economy. And the global recession is the malign progeny of this banking disaster.
So if bonuses are really supposed to be generated by exceptional performance, bankers should now be paying money back to their organisations.
Which means that almost any senior banker who feels that he or she deserves to be paid more than their basic salaries (and these salaries are not trivial) may not be living on the same planet as the rest of us.