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DTCI: Who needs government? Maybe we do!

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DTCI-Tyra-Kevin.jpgWhen I got out of bed this morning, a Tea Party activist on the morning news was decrying government intrusion into our lives and our freedom. He seemed to be saying that our lives would be so much better without government getting in our way and getting in the way of businesses trying to make our lives better through the free market system.

I assume he was referring to businesses such as AIG, Goldman Sachs, BP, and Massey Coal Company.

But I’m really onboard with what the Tea Party guy was saying. After all, whatever I have accomplished in my life is the result of my own hard work, right? I’m sure it wasn’t because of the federal government’s implementation of the G.I. Bill of Rights after World War II, which allowed my father to go to vocational school and my father-in-law to go to college, which made a world of difference in the socio-economic conditions of their families. And the fact that I, my wife, and our son, daughter, and daughter-in-law all received college educations at Indiana public universities subsidized by Indiana taxpayers (as well as numerous federal grants) doesn’t change the fact that we got where we are just through our own hard work and not with the help of the government.

I continued thinking about this as I efficiently made it into work on an interstate system largely financed by the federal government, and on city streets that have properly working traffic lights and are mostly pothole-free thanks to state and municipal funding and employees. I didn’t need to concern myself with risks to my personal safety on the way in since the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indianapolis Fire Department have a pretty good handle on things. Not much by way of highway brigands. And thanks in large part to the Department of Homeland Security and related agencies, there wasn’t much chance of being caught up in a terrorist attack either.

As I arrived at work, our paralegal, Amy, was already gathering docket updates and data we need on various cases through government online sources such as in.gov and Doxpop. She was also on the phone to a Superior Court clerk with a question about a recent filing. When we file a pleading by mail, it’s pretty certain it will arrive promptly thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.

One of our associates, Jerry, was heading out to the federal courthouse for a settlement conference in which a federal magistrate was serving as a mediator in one of our cases, at no charge to the parties.

That afternoon I argued a summary judgment motion before an impartial judge in a court financed through a combination of tax dollars and filing fees (paid by the plaintiff, not by my client). Although sometimes the judge is wrong (defined as “the judge ruled against my client”), it’s still about the best system anyone could come up with.

Well, perhaps our ability to function in society, and to make a living, and to enjoy the kinds of lives we want to live, isn’t solely derived from our own efforts. Perhaps government isn’t merely an intrusion into our lives. In many respects, governmental activity makes the lives we enjoy feasible. And perhaps Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was right when he said, “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.”•

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Kevin C. Tyra is the principal of The Tyra Law Firm in Indianapolis. He is a member of the DTCI board of directors. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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