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— Fraud suits filed by plaintiff lawyers are important to thwart mischief, says Aguirre. They are "a militia, a reserve force. Even if the SEC were not dysfunctional, trying to do its mission, even with the right leadership, it would still need plaintiff lawyers as part of the process to contain market abuse."

In trying to make its case for relaxed regulation, the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation complained that last year, 46 percent of securities trading was done in the United States. But we have been sending jobs abroad as we worship the so-called global economy. We are no longer the dominant power we were immediately after World War II. In fact, U.S. economic output is only about 25 percent of world output. So what's the complaint?

"Profits of investment bankers have never been higher," points out San Diego lawyer James Krause. Ditto for compensation. For example, Treasury Secretary Paulson raked in $38.8 million last year at Goldman Sachs. His counterpart at Merrill Lynch took in $35.5 million and the chief executive at Lehman Brothers, $34.5 million.

Strong regulation, by bolstering investor confidence, helps markets rather than hamstrings them, Krause says. "Increased transparency and confidence in the market, helped by such things as Sarbanes-Oxley, are promoting U.S. capital market growth," not hindering it, he says.

But Paulson and his buddies have been making only $35 million a year. They feel they deserve more.

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