Well today is tax day! I thought I’d wish everyone a happy tax day and remind you to not only pay taxes by midnight, but also, make sure that you know what you are getting for your tax dollars. Now is a good time to pause and reflect on our system of government. While we must pay taxes and receive essential services from our government in return, I believe that paying taxes also gives me the right to share my opinion. Our tax dollars fund a most inefficient bureaucratic mess called the federal government. I believe that the government has little or no incentive to innovate, oversee and test. Therefore, if the government cannot act efficiently, how can we expect it to tell business what is and is not right and inform consumers what is and is not safe? The framers of our Constitution envisioned problems with government and created the seventh amendment guaranteeing the right to trial by jury:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
The dollar amounts may have changed over the years, but the central protections have not changed nor should they change. The Seventh Amendment has an extremely important place in the federal government to provide sufficient checks and balances on the way our democracy operates. On a day like tax day, I wanted to make sure that we all continue to embrace these checks and balances.
As I have consistently indicated in prior messages, based upon a past record of spending and wasting precious taxpayer dollars, I believe the government should stay away from owning and operating businesses. Do you trust the government to manage taxpayer resources? Does the government manage our money efficiently? Except as a licensing authority, if the government cannot manage taxpayer resources efficiently, how can we expect government to effectively oversee how to run a business and make our products safe? The private sector and not the government should tell us when business does something wrong. That means preserving the right to trial by jury so that citizens can conclude if a product is dangerously defective. By the way, Article Two, Section Twenty-Three of the Arizona State Constitution contains similiar jury trial protections. If these protections have served us well over the last several hundred years, why change them?
The whole debate about “tort reform,” “damage caps,” and other catchy code words really boils down to an attempt to modify the fundamental protections afforded to us by the framers of the Federal and State Constitutions. So when you send in your tax returns today, ask yourselves whether you trust and believe in our government to be the most efficient custodians of your money. If not, why would you trust our government to be most efficient with our system of civil justice?