A Take on Public Service Announcements
You’re looking at a billboard along the road. It presents you with two simple scenarios. The first a withering, yellowed leaf, dry, wilted and discolored; the second, a verdant, supple leaf, bursting with life. The line below reads, Özün Seç! (Choose for yourself!) I think you know which one to pick.
The question for you is: What could this billboard possibly be advertising? Maybe something like an environmental message, about keeping our trees healthy. Or maybe it’s about empowering oneself, seeing something desirable and making the choice to go after it. Or maybe it’s about taxes. Hm. Yep, it’s about taxes. Who knew? I remember being in the US and Statue of Liberty mascots getting paid to stand in the street around tax time, advertising tax preparation services. That doesn’t happen here. As far as I can tell, there are no services provided for preparing taxes, but apparently the Ministry of Taxes is putting out a campaign to encourage tax payment. This is just another peek at the type of place I’m living in, a feature of a society where taxes are regularly not paid. Instead, the normal way of things is to pay the tax collector a bribe that is slightly less than the tax itself. Then you get a break for a while. The government doesn’t get its due, you keep a little more cash for yourself, and the tax collector enjoys the rotten fruit of the system. Neat, huh?
I’ll also point out that the Ministry of Taxes has a pretty interesting website, which you can access in English. Among other things, there’s a Taxes & Children section (note the quote from “Volter,” by whom I think they mean Voltaire), a spot for contests (most recently: Best Tax Slogan contest), and even a place to write in your own suggestions for writing the Azerbaijan tax code. If you’ve got any great ideas, send them in!