When I was a kid, the boy next door once played a nasty trick on my brother, Paul. Our neighbor held his cat in his arms, brought it within a few inches of Paul's face, and pulled its tail. The suddenly angry cat bit Paul's face. My brother and I were upset; we both thought that the cat, if it bit anyone, should have bitten the perpetrator. I think of that incident whenever politicians and others call for economic sanctions against a whole country. On Tuesday, December 15, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 412-12 to impose sanctions on Iran. Let's put aside the fact that the bill, taken literally, would give the U.S. government the power to cut off much of our trade with China. Even if that weren't true, economic sanctions rarely achieve their stated goals and almost always harm innocent people. These innocent people will not thank our government for its action.