I often get asked a Wall Street variation of the Ronald Reagan 1980 campaign saw, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

To wit: Are we safer than we were four years ago? Will the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and the regulations that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are writing prevent another financial meltdown like the one in 2007 and 2008?

Just as in November 1980, the answer is easy: a resounding no. Neither Dodd-Frank nor the Volcker Rule nor bank-capital requirements nor the other regulations that will ultimately get written - with a lot of help from Wall Street's lawyers and lobbyists - will change the behavior of the hundreds of thousands of bankers, traders and executives who work on Wall Street and who do the things every hour of every day that slowly but surely have had a tendency to lead to financial crises.

Need some evidence? President Obama signed the 2,300-page Dodd-Frank law nearly two years ago, in July 2010. Since the law has been in place, here are some of the things that have happened (that we know about):

At the end of October 2011, the commodities and futures broker-dealer MF Global Holdings Ltd. filed for bankruptcy, the largest collapse of a financial company since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The chief executive officer of MF Global was Jon Corzine, a former co-CEO of Goldman Sachs, a former senator and governor of New Jersey. Could anyone have a more gold-plated résumé?

So what did Corzine do? He ratcheted up the financial risks the formerly sleepy firm was taking, and ran it into the ground by making a huge, leveraged bet on the risky sovereign debt of European countries. When the market discovered the extent of Corzine's bet, and how leveraged it was and what might happen to MF Global's capital if he was wrong, investors, creditors, counterparties and customers fled. On Oct. 31 the firm collapsed, taking with it billions of dollars in shareholders' and creditors' money as well as 3,000 jobs.

What else has happened? Well, as we all know now, Jamie Dimon directed JPMorgan Chase's chief investment office into risky and riskier investments in a swashbuckling effort to increase profits for his bank - exactly what his compensation structure rewarded him to do. But this was not his money - it was his depositors' and shareholders' money.

Then, this spring, the strategy went haywire after a group of highly compensated, high-flying traders in London made a big bet with some of the money on an esoteric "synthetic credit portfolio." The losses on the bet - $3 billion and counting - have not proved an existential threat to JPMorgan Chase, in part because it is the biggest of the too-big-to-fail banks. The bet has wiped about $27 billion off the company's market capitalization.

Why does this kind of gambling continue unabated? Why does Wall Street continue to serve best the people who work there at the expense of the entrepreneurs and businessmen who actually rely on our markets to provide their businesses with the capital needed to hire workers, build plants and equipment, and try to provide people with a better life?

For that answer, one need look no further than the kind of fawning comments that many members of the Senate Banking Committee - on both sides of the aisle - used to greet Dimon during his two-hour hearing last week.

Instead of pushing him to explain why, two years after Dodd-Frank, he encouraged risks that shouldn't be taken with his depositors' money, we got this from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.: "We can hardly sit in judgment of your losing $2 billion. We lose twice that every day here in Washington. And plan to continue to do that every day. It's comforting to know that even with a $2 billion loss in a trade ... your company still, I think, had a $19 billion profit. During that same period, we lost over $1 trillion." He concluded: "So the intent today is really not to sit in judgment but to maybe understand better what happened."

Good Lord, can this really be happening?

William D. Cohan, a former investment banker and the author of "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World," is a Bloomberg View columnist.