While I have no strong feelings one way or the other about the bonuses paid to AIG employees — a drop in the bucket compared to the larger crime of the government bailing out AIG and other firms in general (not to mention every other thing government pays for) — I was pleased to see that esteemed law professor Richard Epstein, in a Wall Street Journal editorial this week, shared my fear that the government just keeps getting more and more comfortable with what once would have been considered bills of attainder, those unconstitutional (yet now rampant) cases where laws are fashioned to punish specific individuals on a “make it up as we go along” basis instead of as broad, general rules applying to all citizens and all cases (the basic idea behind the phrase “general welfare,” though no one remembers that anymore either, of course).
If the law’s so bendy it gets refashioned anew with every discovery of a reviled exec (or kid who falls down a well, or one-in-a-million garden tool mishap, or freak storm), we may as well give up on law and have the current crop of potentates rule by arbitrary decree, in keeping with the swinging mood of the crowd.
All the same, nice to see John Carney likening the wasteful AIG folks to the Joker setting a big pile of money on fire in Dark Knight. This sort of thing will make the populist revolt against both government and its big-business cronies that much easier. The time is fast approaching, I think.