What an interesting juxtaposition in the Senate Tuesday. At that hearing of the Investigation Subcommittee, the parade of insolent Goldman Sachs gangbangers basically made it clear they were way higher and mightier than the peoples' elected officials of any government.
In effect, they told astonished committee members that concepts such as honesty and ethics, and certainly shame, were alien in Goldman snake pits. All that mattered, as they peddled their indecipherable and deceptive exotic mortgage packages, was that they added new profits to their pile of ill gotten gains.
Meanwhile, over on the Senate floor, the Republicans once again were blocking the Financial Reform legislation, which, among other things, would establish requirements and oversight for the very derivatives Goldman Sachs and the other hustlers in their cabals used in their elaborate and massive financial flim flams.
While the debate raged on over regulation and what to do about companies deemed "too big to fail," the Goldman executives were presenting a strong case for the argument that there should really be laws against organizations that are too big to succeed.
Back in history, a President or two, along with some concerned members of Congress and a few judges, concluded that certain companies had become so huge they could crush the economy, squash competition and pulverize any efforts to hold them legally accountable. So they broke them up.
How quaint. After the last several decades of mergers and the other wheeling dealings, the so-called free market is not free, but under the control of a few behemoths who believe they don't really have to answer to anyone. The fact is, they're usually right.
But even these rulers of the world can sometimes get tripped up by their own hubris. That's what we witnessed from the Goldman spectacle Tuesday.
Their well-coached but transparent attempts to deflect questions were not enough to obscure the brazenness of their security manipulations. The blatant disregard for decency that under pins their business practices was on full display.
One of their main arguments is that all they have been doing was routine business practice. Shifty behavior is the norm. They were merely operating the way the other operators did. That is exactly the point. To a large degree our destinies rely on a system of deceit.
Those who can change that, our members of Congress, face a real dilemma. They somehow must take care not to offend the bankers and captains of industry, who, after all, fund their campaigns to stay in office, while at the same time do something to cool down the fire of outrage from a public ready to vote them out if they don't make changes.
The legislation they're considering is a small step toward bringing a little order to the lawless money frontiers. If that doesn't work, maybe it's time to serious consider taking the huge out-of-control structures that overwhelm the terrain and break them into smaller, manageable pieces.
One would think that what we witnessed from the Goldman Sachs hearing will inspire them to finally take meaningful action. But what we saw on the Senate floor suggests that even that was not enough.