(Bloomberg News) It's not every day you get to peer into a billionaire bond trader's soul, but Bill Gross affords everyone that rare opportunity in his latest investment outlook, Devil's Bargain. In addition to his usual, trenchant market analysis, the monthly newsletter is part confessional, part prescription for all that ails the financial world.

"As a profession, we have failed miserably at our primary function: the efficient and productive allocation of capital," the founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. writes. "This country desperately requires a rebalancing of priorities."

It's hard to disagree with Morningstar's Fixed-Income Fund Manager of the Decade here. Wall Street greed helped precipitate the Great Recession. Common justice requires we now be part of the solution, rather than the problem.

Gross saves his harshest criticism for those in the money business who have used their positions of privilege for the sole purpose of enriching themselves. "How can bond traders make ten, one hundred, one thousand times more money than an engineer or social worker given their dismal historical performance?"

More than a year ago, a broad cross-section of financiers came to the same conclusions--namely, that excessive greed undermined the economy and violated an implicit social contract.

In Devil's Bargain, Gross seems similarly inclined to self-reflection. "Hang your heads, moneychangers." He goes on to advocate regulation from above rather than within. "After readjusting the compensation scales via regulation and/or free- market common sense, America needs to anoint a new set of Mensans who can create something more than a cash machine."

Record Bonuses

While undoubtedly well intended, it remains unclear how these propositions would work in practice. Compensation doesn't seem to be coming down either by regulation or the invisible hand--just a few years on from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s immolation, Wall Street compensation is back near record highs.

It would be great to find Mensans who could predict the future and identify winning industries. But history inclines otherwise. Mensans advocated ethanol subsidies and expansive balance sheets for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, after all. Even the wisest, most altruistic men and women make disastrous public investment decisions.

"America requires more than a makeover or a facelift," Gross says. "It needs a heart transplant absent the contagious antibodies of money and finance filtering through the system."

'A' for Intent

To redeem Wall Street's soul, radical solutions are clearly needed, but advocating the eradication of profit-based markets that have served humanity well on balance without a viable replacement is fanciful. Gross deserves an "A" for intent, but something more practical than a "heart transplant" is required to restore trust and efficacy to our banking system.

Besides, our problems aren't finance or money or trading per se; riding the world of hunger, poverty and disease will require fully functional, competitive capital markets. To ensure these markets serve the common good rather than common crooks, however, the intents and objectives of those structuring transactions and committing capital must change.

Human development requires financiers whose preoccupations are civic, not selfish. Just like doctors, teachers, soldiers and firefighters, they have essential roles to play in creating an ethical society. To succeed, we need only put the interests of our clients, colleagues and communities ahead of our own.

Unfinished Tasks

Gross is right about one thing more: better regulations are needed. Capital adequacy, resolution authority for every financial institution regardless of size, less systemic risk, pay rules that fuse shareholder and wage-earner interests--these unfinished tasks remain the rightful province of regulatory Leviathans.

But Faustian impulses will always prove impervious to supervisory fiat. If the Devil is to be defeated, he'll need to be fought off, one financial professional at a time.

"Are record corporate profits a fair price for America's soul?" Gross asks rhetorically. Never! Souls must not be for sale at any price. But an economy based on something other than profit risks misery and injustice of another sort. The antibodies now needed aren't those that negate profitability. Rather, they are the ones that bind financial engineering to value creation and advancement of society.

More than Mensans, we need mensches. Many thanks to Bill Gross for igniting the debate.