This time of year, we think about taxes, but we really should think about that every day. Many people think the amount of their paycheck is the amount they earn, forgetting that what they really earn is the amount before taxes.
The Declaration of Independence describes the foundational principles for our system of government. Most of us are familiar with the sentence that reads, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The next sentence is not as familiar, but it is the key to protecting those rights. It says, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Notice the order of authority. God gives to individuals the right to life and liberty, and individuals delegate to government the authority to protect those rights. The only way to keep that government in check is for the people to notice what the government doing and then give or withhold their consent.
So don't just pay taxes; pay attention to how those taxes are being spent. That's your responsibility under our system of government.
For the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, I'm Forest Thigpen.