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When dealing with a tyrant like Putin, don't show him your good stuff
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, serves as an object lesson in the hazards of interacting with tyrants. The New York Post reports:
Putin did it because he could. The little joke about being able to kill someone sent the message with mordant humor. You had it, but you handed it to me, and now it's mine.
The power of the state, with its monopoly on the legitimate use of force, must be restrained by law and custom. Russia, the heir of the USSR and the czars, has few safeguards against a man like Putin, ruthless and self-interested.
Unfortunately, in the United States we have seen an erosion of respect for our own constitutional and customary safeguards against tyranny. When dealing with the IRS, the only circumstances under which a citizen must prove himself innocent, Americans sometimes feel as if they face an analogous situation. Nobody shows off their good stuff to an IRS auditor.