Conroe, November 25 – It’s only a $10.00 check from the Montgomery County government for jury service, but it’s morally important to void the check anyway. Since the entire jury service involved only about an hour of time, it was certainly fair pay.
Nevertheless, voiding the check and not accepting the money from the government is the right thing to do. Here’s why.
In one of The Golden Hammer Publisher’s last conversations with Marc Davenport, the corrupt political boss who leads the Davenport Ring of corrupt officials and candidates who are working very hard to turn Montgomery County’s government into a government openly “for sale,” accused the Publisher of being a “puppet.” Davenport, of course, meant that the Publisher was a puppet of Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, whom Davenport, County Judge Craig Doyal, his “chief of staff” jim fredricks, and City Councilman Duane Ham love to vilify and demean by referring to him as “little Jimmy” and other derogatory expressions.
In response to Davenport’s accusation, the Publisher admitted “I am a puppet. I’m a puppet of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Robert Nozick.”
In Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government, the English philosopher began with an examination of man in his “state of nature,” in other words before formal governments existed. Locke then traced how governments formed beginning with “mutual protective associations” which more efficiently provided safety for groups of individuals. Of course, the concept of safety included protection both from external threats (what we might call “national security” or “defense” today) and from internal threats (what we call “law enforcement” or “public safety”). Those mutual protective associations were entirely moral, because the individuals who belong to them formed them and joined them voluntarily.
John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick agreed across four centuries that government has a natural purpose of providing law enforcement and national security. Those two functions of government are the central purpose of citizens gathering together to form “mutual protective societies” that, in some instances, they now call the Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Defense. It’s somewhat arguable that there are very limited other instances where government is morally justified, such as if there is core infrastructure that free markets would not otherwise provide. Those instances are very rare and very limited
When government extends its reach into other functions, where citizens have not unanimously agreed there is an appropriate purpose, government tends to fail in its actions. Governments are terrible at economic development planning and implementation. From the Soviet Union to Craig Doyal’s and Charlie Riley’s Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, government has failed at directing businesses and the economy. In three decades of existence, the Montgomery County Airport has never even broken even. Worse yet, the Airport has largely failed to boost businesses to congregate near its perimeter. The Montgomery County Airport region is largely a congregation of convenience stores and government buildings, as well as the ghost town known as the “Deison Technology Park.”
The Montgomery County government spends far too much money, hires way too many employees, fails to supervise those employees, does a terrible job prosecuting road and bridge projects, and fails to take measure of its budget. The County lacks any substantive ethics policy, suffers rampant conflicts of interest, operates largely in purposeful secrecy, and is overwhelmed by elected official and employee nepotism. The County government’s pattern of giving tax dollars away to favored recipients is the same type of corruption that one witnesses in the Genovese crime family. They take protection money away by force and use it to butter their favored political supporters. Those are the greatest negatives of government.
Other than law enforcement and national security, government is bad at almost everything it does.
Nevertheless, it’s still important, morally, to remember why we have a mutual protective association called the Montgomery County government. It’s there to protect us. That protection involves apprehension of bad guys, prosecution of bad guys, fair trials for the defendants, and sentencing for the purpose retribution or incapacitation.
One of the steps along the way, however, is one of the few direct duties that we all have a citizens: jury duty. Juries are critically important. The right to a trial by jury is a guarantee under Article I, Section 10, of the Texas Constitution and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Juries are what protect accused individuals from despotic governments prosecuting them unfairly or by whim. Juries really do work. They’re essential to government.
While it’s probably a fair compensation to pay people to perform jury duty, citizens should serve as a public service, a sacrifice to make our representative form of government work the right way. Just as elected leaders don’t have a right to a salary, and should serve as a sacrifice, so should citizens serve as a sacrifice.
Citizens should serve on juries because it’s the right thing to do. It protects ourselves and others from tyranny and despotism. It’s a direct method by which citizens may help to operate one of the moral aspects of government’s functions, law enforcement and public safety.
County Auditor Phyllis Martin, District Clerk Barbara Adamick, County Clerk Mark Turnbull, and County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, thanks for check. Please put in your bookkeeping that check 1076438 is a “VOID.”
Don’t thank me. Please thank my puppet-masters: John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick.