Last week I praised TMQ for defending Mike Vick. This week, though, he’s gone off the deep end.

First, he makes the moral equivalence argument. Why is it so bad that Mike Vick beat, shot and electrocuted dogs when we do this to livestock? I’m with Easterbrook on the animal cruelty in our food system. But the two things are not even comparable. There is a huge difference between killing an animal looked upon as food and killing an animal looked upon as a pet — a virtual family member. (And don’t come here with the “other nations treat dogs as food” argument unless you are prepared to legalize honor killings of raped women.) I will admit, however, that the comparison he makes to dog-racing is very troubling an should be addressed.

But where he gets stupid is this:

One or two years in federal prison, and perhaps state prison time if state charges are filed as well; plus $25 million in lost endorsement income and, oh, $50 million in lost or returned NFL income. That’s overkill! Often the indirect financial consequences of legal proceedings are worse than the official ones, in the same way that a speeding ticket might cost you $75 but add $1,000 to your annual insurance bill.[MHS – try speeding in Virginia!]

In effect, the federal indictment of Vick is resulting in him being fined around $75 million, which is far too much retribution.

This, from the usually brilliant Easterbrook, is pure unadulterated dog-poop. Depriving someone of future income is not the same thing as fining someone. By that logic, if my employer fires me for insubordination, I have been “fined” a couple of million bucks for the lifetime earnings I would have had. If a bankruptcy court forbids me to play the lottery and my numbers come up, they’ve “fined” me $200 million. If a trader under SEC investigation is forbidden from trading a stock that subsequently tanks, he’s been “fined” millions. If a corrupt CEO is put in prison, he’s “fined” millions from not being able to work.

This is ridiculous. Michael Vick is not being fined. He’s being deprived of potential future income. It’s no different than what happened to Ricky Williams (by Gregg’s logic, “fined” millions for smoking pot) or Kobe Bryant (“fined” millions in endorsements for cheating on his wife). The NFL and endorsement agencies are Mike Vick’s employers. They agreed to pay him money on certain conditions, notably not behaving like a complete idiot and lobbing plenty of passes into the waiting arms of defensive backs. He has violated that agreement. And like all people who violate contracts, he is losing the benefits that contract.

Would it be right for him to get millions of dollars for not playing football and not hawking expensive sports shoes to low-income kids? This is not something being done to Michael Vick. This is something he did on his very own.

Easterbrook’s assertion that Vick is being “fined” is especially offensive in a nation where thousands of Americans routinely have their money or their property taken from them because it might be from illegal activity. The DEA and the IRS confiscate money and property — often from the poorer Americans — without any hint of due process. It is up to the robbed to prove their innocence. And the Supreme Court has decreed that this is fine by them.

For God’s sake, Easterbrook, get some perspective.