In fact, it already is. On January 1, the FATCAT Act (technically, it’s FATCA, but we all get the acronymic message) imposes a whole new bunch of burdensome regulations and punitive fines on Americans with non-U.S. bank accounts. Not just Mitt and his chums with the numbered accounts in Zurich, but ordinary Americans teaching abroad at, say, the International School in Accra, or doing regular business in Ireland, or with an old family hunting camp in Quebec for which they’ve always had a small checking account just to pay grocery and fuel bills when they’re up there. Americans now enjoy less financial freedom than Canadians, Swedes, and Italians. When I mentioned this on NRO recently, I received a fair few e-mails from readers saying they have no plans to work abroad or buy a second home, so why should they care?
Here’s why: Because Washington is telling you something important about how things are likely to go when things get even worse. Which is the way to bet. American government is not noted for its sense of proportion. This is a bureaucracy whose Fish and Wildlife agents fine an eleven-year-old Virginia schoolgirl $535 for the crime of rescuing a woodpecker from a cat and nursing him back to health; whose National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agents threaten a marine biologist with 20 years in jail over whistling at a whale; whose Food and Drug Administration agents want a hundred grand in fines from some onanistic weirdo in Fremont who gives away his sperm to infertile couples. If you’re wondering which of the Food and Drug Administration’s twin responsibilities semen counts as, don’t waste your time: Whether your deposit belongs at a Swiss bank or a sperm bank, it’s all federally regulated.