Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but only a few can test by feeling. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

One of the first rules of politics is that perception can supplant reality. An entire industry of professional advisors and public relations experts exists to effectuate this end. It is with this truism in mind that I took great interest in Fox Business News' recent report that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and another Republican senator met with a group of Wall Street executives to explain how "financial executives might help prevent" some of the "least market-friendly aspects" of the proposed legislative financial reforms currently being discussed in Congress.

The proposed legislation calls for more oversight of derivatives trading. A handful of investment banks have made billions from their ability to control the unregulated derivatives market; and unsurprisingly, like things the way they are. Apparently, the Republican senators advised the banks that their best hope of killing the financial overhaul is to argue that the proposed legislation is too weak.

Machiavelli would be proud. As Andrew Leonard writes in the article attached below, "This is a display of hypocrisy that is impressive, even for the modern GOP. The big banks don't want key portions of the bill passed because they fear their profits will be crimped. So to serve [the banks'] bidding the GOP is attempting to kill the bill by framing it as too friendly to Wall Street."

In reality, the banks are robber barons. Let us hope they seem that way to enough of us to force the legislative changes that are so needed.


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