Thursday, March 19, 2009

Out of control

This is horrifying.
Acting with lightning speed, the Democratic-led House has approved a bill to slap punishing taxes on big employee bonuses from firms bailed out by taxpayers. The vote was 328-93...Republicans called it a legally questionable ploy to paper over Obama administration missteps.

Honestly, doesn't this kind of heavy-handed punitive taxation frighten anyone? If Congress can do this (which I don't think it actually can constitutionally, though that's obviously not going to stop it), what's next? What's to prevent them from deciding that tobacco company profits can be taxed at 90%? Or oil company profits. What is to prevent them from deciding that MLB or NBA player bonuses are excessive and unnecessary and confiscating them? And what is to prevent them from deciding that a salesman making $100K doesn't need that $20K bonus that he earned?

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

- Pastor Martin Niemöller

Look, I know that this isn't Kristallnacht . I know that no one is rounding up Jews or dragging anyone off to concentration camps. But this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad precedent, and as a free people, we ought not allow our representatives to get away with this abuse of their powers. And I know that the class envy card works really well in this country - still - but it has to stop.

And I know this - once Congress decides/realizes that it can just confiscate some individuals contractual bonus, it is extremely unlikely to stop there. Any one in the middle class who is exulting that some rich Wall Street banker is getting publically flogged and robbed needs to stop and consider how many people are making less than he is. And he needs to consider that the same constitutional protections for his income are the ones being abrogated to attack the AIG bonuses. And he should be terrified.

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