While I am sure that there were many scammers involved in the "bubble," the vast majority of
the lost money was "lost" (transferred actually) in perfectly legal/ethical ways from people
who "cared less"/"payed less attention" to risk/value to those who "cared more"/"payed more
attention" to risk/value.
This is in no way an evil thing, and the implication that the vast majority of this money was
stolen (it would have to be the vast majority, for it to affect the vast majority of people,)
is simply a dishonest/misleading use of words.
Markets go up and down, values change, but mostly in the upward direction. Most people get
richer all the time even including the losses from bubbles. Those who are better at managing
risk survive this better than others and were probably the ones to whom much of this money was
transferred (as with the current real estate crisis). This is a GOOD thing, not a bad thing
(although it may feel bad when you're on the losing side of this transfer). Those who are
better at managing money (read "resources") will get to manage more of it than those who are
not good at managing it. Would you prefer it the other way around?
The key is to remember that we all (vast majority) are better off and get richer because of
this because there will be more resources all around! While there may be a greater gap
because of this between the richer and the poorer sometimes, the poorer are still better off
in the vast majority of cases.
Those who "lost" money will learn to manage it better next time, and will have less to waste
on bad investments (that "bad" feeling mentioned above will help ensure this!) "Bad
investments" here does not imply scams, but rather simply things such as: research that simply
did not pay off, or over -investments into areas that were already (too) well funded... Those
who stopped investing in bad investments early enough (the ones who received those loses,)
helped the economy correct itself eventually. Without this withdrawal from the bubble by the
more conservative, the bubble would have gotten worse and worse (more and more resources
wasted), making everyone poorer and poorer!
So while, yes, there were many scammers riding a wave during the bubble, this does not account
for the losses that most people attribute to the bubble bursting, and these scams therefore
affected way fewer people than implied in many of the posts above. Of course, it is easier to
imagine that one was scammed out of one's money than to admit that one simply didn't manage it
well (this is not implied about any of the posters, just the general populace).