The House of Representatives, in exactly the kind of populist fever the Founders imagined when they put limits on government behavior, have voted in favor of a punitive tax on people they don't like -- in this case, employees of AIG's Financial Products division. The goal: take away the money of a tiny group of people -- fewer than 500 -- so that they can stand in front of television cameras and prove they're tough.
This is the kind of silliness I expect from Democrats, but the fact that 85 Republicans in the house joined in bodes poorly for the future. That these are the same Republicans who, every time the Democrats want to talk about limiting executive pay, howl bloody murder about free markets and the sanctity of private contracts makes me think Congress has been invaded by body snatchers.
I haven't seen any polls yet, but I'm sure this will turn out to be highly popular, just like the Patriot Act or the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
Some time in the future Congress will find another class of people it doesn't like -- some other tiny group inspiring public outrage -- and relying on precedent and doing what the mob demands, Congress will pass a law reaching back through time to rob them of money they've legally -- if not quite deservedly -- earned.
We need to stop giving these people power. Haven't we realized that when we do that, they end up using it?