So while yes, part of this story has been simple greed, a willingness to believe that we could and should massively increase consumption no matter what, I tend to take this desire as a given. The question is how you design an institution that channels those given desires into productive ends. Markets, for example, channel self-interest into exchanges that result in gains to both sides; government lobbying channels that same self-interest into rent-seeking that makes society as a whole, and at least one major party to the exchange, worse off.
Megan ignores power inequalities that inevitably arise if self-interest goes unchecked. McArdle's dominant drive is self-interest, and fortunately for her, others have refined it into both a political and moral philosophy. Lack of charity and empathy is encouraging self-reliance. Callousness is individualism. Greed is supporting free markets. Elitism is rewarding hard work and innate superiority. There is always an excuse for what would be considered moral underdevelopment and self-indulgence in a child, but is found acceptable in an educated, privileged middle-aged woman.
McArdle's frequent excuse for the exposure of her philosophy's failure is that nobody is smart enough to know what went wrong, and it's useless to try. This is an incredibly weak and patently false lie. For three years a few economists and journalists warned of the coming storm. I read them every day; John Hussman, Bill Fleckstein, Mish, Bonddad, Calculated Risk, The Big Picture, Angry Bear, The Oil Drum, and of course Nouriel Roubini. They warned and explained, showed graphs and charts, but were mocked and vilified, often by McArdle herself. People knew, and to say otherwise is a lie. People were just making too much money to care. As long as the party continued, Wall Street could siphon off as much money as possible. When the party ended they demanded more money to clean up the mess, and McArdle supported that too. Then they ran off without cleaning up and again, nobody who isn't paid to look the other way is surprised.
We are in deep shit. McArdle is nothing but the Magician's assistant put on stage in a short skirt and low-cut top to distract the audience while he pulls off his magic act of disappearing the audience's money.