November 13, 2006

The Inevitability Factor

Death, Taxes, and Global Warming. If the Taiwanese put as much energy into cheating Global Warming as they do cheating on their taxes pictures like this one would be relegated to the "Remember When" files:

At our previous place of employment, my wife and I came into daily contact with the friendly-ish bureaucrats from the Tax Office. Lovely people, with a great sense of fashion. Bless their hearts. So, we recognize most of the folks in the office, and when we see them out on the street, there's a glimmer of recognition. Whether or not this is a good thing is negligible.

We recognize these government workers in the breakfast shops at half past nine, and we drive by them as they do their vegetable shopping in the market at half past ten. They must rush back to the office to clock out for lunch at a quarter to noon. When they come back from lunch at two, there's a whirlwind of activity to see what work absolutely probably shouldn't be put off until tomorrow as well as rush down to the first floor to see what the fruit peddler has loaded on her blue truck.

Hell, by the time all that's over, it's time to shuffle the papers around a bit, decide what's a priority for the next morning, and clean off the desk in time to be in the elevator at five o'clock, promptly.

Those tax office folks. What a bunch of maroons. They used to come into our school to apply for classes and loudly remind the secretaries that they were employees of the tax office and ask for their discount. There was never, to my knowledge, a discount for folks in the tax office, but the implication seems to be that a discount would help to stave off any unwanted attention from the auditors.

And the auditors, I'm finding out, are nothing if not creative. Certainly not accurate. In the school we are opening, I had hoped to have displays of students' names and reading records and stuff, just to give the students the opportunity for public recognition of achievement and touchy-feely stuff like that. This was vetoed before I got most of the proposal put into words, for the reason that representatives of Taiwan's government are known to show up in school to count evidence of students. If a school has evidence of x students, it is assumed that, because people cheat on their taxes so much, the number is closer to 3x. If the assessor is able to chisel you for a larger sum, they get a bonus. Either the tax office is corrupt because people are crooked, or people are crooked because the tax office is corrupt. The assessors think that no school would be stupid enough to accurately declare how many students they have, so any number you give them, no matter how honest, is bound to be considered an under-reportage.

To go from day to day, I try to convince myself that everywhere in the world is just as corrupt as Taiwan. I'm not doing too well.

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