When A Deal Isn’t A Deal

July 14, 2005 

When the Supreme Court finally gets something right, the devil is in what they didn’t say.  By finding for the petitioner in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, the Court was logically correct that the respondent “did not, for purposes of the Due Process Clause, have a property interest in police enforcement of the restraining order against her husband.”  The Court was correct not to invent a “property interest entitlement” in the Fourteenth Amendment where none existed.  This doesn’t mean that the respondent wasn’t defrauded by her own government.  She was. 

Before this argument goes any further, there are two things that must be understood...and understood clearly.  The government of the United States serves at the sufferance of the American citizen and, it is paid for by the American taxpayer.  You, the citizen, created it, you own it, you pay for it and it serves at your beck and call.   

An elected official is nothing more, nor less, than a corporate board member with a single share of ownership who is voting by proxy for his/her constituent base.  Bureaucrats are employees tasked with executing the day-to-day operations of the organization.  The government was created by “we the people” and it is owned by “we the people” and it only exists to serve “we the people”.  Just like the Congressional screams over corporate abuses, when the government becomes self-serving, it breaks the deal with its shareholders and those shareholders are entitled to damages. 

There never seems to be any problem with comeuppance when a shareholder breaks the deal with the government.  Just try telling the IRS you don’t feel like keeping your end of the bargain next April 15th.   

In Castle Rock v. Gonzales, the respondent, Jessica Gonzales, sued the city of Castle Rock, Colorado for not vigorously enforcing a restraining order against her estranged husband.  Gonzales contended that the city’s lax enforcement efforts resulted in the murder of her three young daughters by her husband.  The city of Castle Rock (petitioner) contends that it did all it could do and that this litigation could “unleash a potentially devastating flood of cases that could bankrupt municipal governments.” 

For her part, Gonzales made the simple point that, “restraining orders are not worth anything unless police officers are willing to enforce them. They are just paper.”  Colorado is one of a few states with a law requiring police to enforce restraining orders.   

Gonzalez had a permanent restraining order against her husband, which required him to notify her before he could see his children.  On June 22, 1999, her husband abducted the three daughters from Gonzales’ front yard.  Her repeated calls to the Castle Rock police were answered with the request to “call back in two more hours”.  I wonder if a robber stole the police department pension fund...would the response be that “I’m at the donut shop and call back in two hours”?     

At 3:20 a.m. on June 23, Gonzales’ husband drove to the Castle Rock police station and died in a shootout with Castle Rock officers.  The dead bodies of the three daughters, ages 10, 9 and 7, were in his truck. 

In the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Congress put corporate America’s feet to the fire.  Corporate C.E.O.’s and C.F.O.’s can be held personally and criminally responsible for almost any corporate malfeasance.  Yet the people who pass these laws and enforce these laws, and even type these laws, expect their bosses, the American people, to expect a different level of accountability from them...which is often no accountability. 

Consider a few examples:

-       John Couey, a convicted sex offender, murdered 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Florida and confessed to it.  Couey also admitted that Jessica was alive and hidden in a closet when officers visited his mobile home shortly after her disappearance and that officers could have found her alive if they had searched the home.  Because officers who continue to receive their pay and benefits botched Couey’s interrogation, his confession will probably not be admissible in court.

-       In Idaho, 8 year old Shasta Groene and her 9 year old brother Dylan were repeatedly molested by their kidnapper Joseph Duncan.  Dylan was probably murdered by Duncan.  Duncan had spent more than a decade in prison for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint in Tacoma, Wash., and was a fugitive at the time of his arrest after he was charged with molesting a 6-year-old boy in Minnesota.  He was free on $15,000 bail in the child molestation case when he snatched the Groene children. Police had been “looking” for Duncan since May, when he skipped bail.

-       The Center for Immigration Studies reports that “the illegal-alien population in 2003 stands at at least 8 million. Included in this estimate are approximately 78,000 illegal aliens from countries who are of special concern in the war on terror.”  This number is growing by 500,000 per year and bankrupting many state treasuries.  The government’s response is to declare an “amnesty”. 

These, of course, are just a few examples of government incompetence that has become the norm.  Not only are you burdened with the costs resulting from this incompetence, but you have virtually no choice in being taxed to pay the salaries, benefits and pensions of those who perpetrate this incompetence.  You are paying the plumber to clog your toilet and being told to just shut up and keep paying. 

Just when isn’t a deal a deal any longer? 

The problem with Castle Rock v. Gonzales is that the ACLU tried to turn it into a great precedent of Constitutional entitlement when, in fact, it was as simple as the 8th Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." 

If you give your government your money to do the job you wish it to do and, that government takes the money and fails to deliver the services...a fraud has been committed.  Civil and criminal penalties are designed to keep people honest and bring victims some redress.  They are a disincentive to fraud. 

When a government ceases to live by the same laws burdened upon the governed, it breaks the deal.  Once the deal is broken, there are only two choices.  One is to redress the fraud.  The other would be to unburden the government of the burden which it is apparently incapable of bearing and “reorganize”.   

The former seems so much simpler.  Just hold those in government to the same levels of personal accountability as those in the private sector.  When a bank teller steals your deposits from a bank, that teller is personally liable.  When a government “official” accepts your tax dollars and promises delivery of services “next Tuesday”, that person should be held to the same accountability as the bank teller. 

Now that would not be a deal...it would be a miracle!


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