Jake entered the local tax office and approached the customer service desk with a sense of purpose. “I’m here to collect a refund.”
Angie, the middle aged woman behind the desk raised an eyebrow. “Did you receive a notification of overpayment?”
“No, I just want a refund.”
Angie looked at him over her glasses. “I’m sorry, we don’t do that here.”
Jake looked around the office. It was filled with fellow citizens facing the bureaucratic machine. “So where do I go?”
Angie sighed. “I’m sorry, sir. We don’t do that.”
“It’s the government. They don’t give refunds.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” said Jake.
“I can’t help you,” said Angie.
Jake shifted from one foot to the other. “This is the place that takes my money, right?”
“Then it only makes sense this should be the place that gives it back.”
“Why do you want your money back?” sighed Angie. It was a question that slipped out without thinking.
“Well, the way I see it, I give money to the government and they provide services. If they give bad service then I should get my money back. I’m not paying for bad service,” explained Jake.
“It doesn’t work that way.”
“Why not? Haven’t you ever returned something you bought from a store or complained to management for bad service at a restaurant?”
Angie glared at Jake. “Yeah. So?”
“That’s how it should work with the government. They waste my money, so I want it back. They obviously can’t be trusted.”
Angie thought for a second. “What about the services the government provides that we can’t live without, like roads and hospitals?”
“And they don’t do a very good job at either of them. Did you know the Department of National Defense once spent $14,000 on a public opinion poll just to learn what people thought about the powers of super heros? Seriously. One city built a public fire hall on land it didn’t even own. Now it has to try to buy the land. It’s stupid,” explained Jake. A small crowd of other citizens gathered around.
“I didn’t know that,” said Angie meekly.
“The only way they’ll learn is if we demand our money back. I’m tired of paying for bad service,” said Jake.
“Yeah,” cheered another citizen.
“Me neither,” said another.
“I say we get what we pay for or we get our money back,” concluded Jake. He was enthusiastically applauded.
A manager approached. “Is there a problem here?” he whispered to Angie.
Angie leaned into her boss’ ear. “This man is thinking for himself.”
The manager nodded and picked up the phone. “Yes,” he said. “We have another independent thinker. That’s right. I’ll declared him mentally incompetent so you can rehabilitate him. Exactly. Bye.”
“What was that about?” demanded Jake.
The manager smiled. “Don’t worry, sir. We’ll have you well taken care of.”