I'm sure all of you have encountered power tripping folks in life who lord it over others when given a small amount of contextual power. There are horrific stories of abuse, rape, and death in war zones and during routine encounters with people in authority. These stories, large and small, have a common feature to them: people who abuse their power, or power trippers. I have a philosophy about karma coming back to bite back power trippers. For those who've committed crimes and/or otherwise caused harm, I believe they never have happy and deserving lives and that the same thing happens to them. For others whose actions are petty and don't really have an impact: I sincerely hope they are happy and fulfilled but my experience is that such bitterness and pettiness only leads to more of the same - karma!
I am fortunate in my life that I've had only a few such experiences, all of it minor, and many of it occurring when I was relatively powerless in society, i.e., when I was a younger and poor: There's a story I've written in the past about a power tripping security guard at Woodstock '94. Then there was an interesting situation with a censor when my site was in its infancy. My wife, who grew up very power, has a lot of other crazy stories as well: police who harassed her, shop keeper who underestimate her capacity, etc. (Amusingly, my wife doesn't take the zen view I take here that they'll get what's coming to them and she tends to give her abusers an earful.) We both have encountered power trippers during our travels, especially back to our countries of birth where we are (fortunately infrequently) treated differently for reasons stemming from jealousy to otherisation.
In all these situations, I don't really think there is a karmic force per se that is meting out judgements, after all I am an atheist. What I do think is that the behaviour of these people influences what happens to them. Eventually they will encounter someone who is more powerful than them and cross them the wrong way. The likelihood of it happening is very high. Alternately, they may show their true selves only around people with less power: this also is indicative of a sad existence; they are not able to be their true selves and will chafe at those they feel are not deserving of their deference.
This is why I feel some empathy for such folks, since I often observe these people that are not at the highest rungs of society and the same people of the kind that may be abusive to us when we were younger, as evidenced by their behaviour towards other powerless people, are now extremely deferential. But my empathy is limited to those whose actions in petty contexts resulted in no tangible outcomes and only resulted in wounded ego/pride (which may even be thought of as a positive if you one is an ego-driven or prideful person, to check your own power-tripping impulses). However, anyone who has caused tangible harm to others deserves to face consequences for their actions.
Ultimately, the reason people behave this way is because power corrupts, and the more power you have, the more corrupting it becomes. I have written extensively and touched upon this, including in this missive, but never have tackled the subject directly. Maybe there's not a lot to say by itself except in the context of other topics like atheism, law and order, government, society, voting, judgement, travel, and enlightenment.