Two stories in today's New York Times caught our attention because the contrast between them was so stark. 

This article adds fuel to the explosive debates over "guaranteed" bonuses awarded to the dealmakers on Wall Street, regardless of their performance or the financial state of their companies.

Over in the business section, we read a story about college graduates, who are now competing with laid-off workers for work. The article touts the services of a company that charges $8,000 or more to land students placements into unpaid internships (in many cases, parents are writing the checks to ensure their kids don't get left behind.) Other companies are creating auctions, selling off internships to the highest bidders. 

We admit to a bias, as our daughter, who has a master's degree in nutrition, just paid $5,000 for a 9-month unpaid internship so she can get certified by the American Diatetics Association. (We, however, did not write the check.)

So one system pays out millions, regardless of performance, and another requires you to pay for the privilege of working for free. There seems to be a statement about our nation's values there, and it leaves us feeling uneasy.