While walking* home from work on April 15th, I approached the main branch of the post office on 8th Avenue and 31st Street. I heard very loud music. A band played on the southwest corner. There were also more cops than usual hanging around. I put two and two together when we passed the post office. Groups of protesters held up nonsensical signs equating paying for a functioning government to socialism. (And if that is what socialism is, by all means, sign me up!) I hoped that none of them would have a medical emergency that required an ambulance, as my taxes paid for those services and since they told me not to pay taxes, they would have some problems if they needed help. I also pondered what they would do if no one paid taxes and thus the police were not there to protect their Constitutional right to express their uninformed opinions. It seemed that many of them took public transportation to this rally that I also subsidized with my taxes, and it made me a little sad because if there was no public transportation, they would have been stuck in horrific traffic jams that prevented them from getting to their rally on time. Actually, without taxes, the roads would also not be maintained, which would probably make driving to their protest even less pleasant. And trash would line the streets because there would not be garbage pick up, adding to the stinkiness of their arguments. Life sure would be better if I didn't have to pay taxes, wouldn't it?

At any rate, as I thought all my unpleasant thoughts about these individuals who claim they love individual choice and responsibility so much that they have the right to impose their will on me and destroy the infrastructure of the nation, I ran into a group of students handing out stickers in front of Penn Station, across the street from the post office.

"What are these?" I asked.

"If you haven't sent in your taxes yet, you can put this on the envelope," a student replied. I looked at the sticker he held out. It said that I wanted my tax dollars to support schools.

"Cool," I said. "So you are doing a counter-protest!"

"No, they are doing a counter-protest."

"Huh? But it seems like you are for taxes."

"No, we're not for taxes."

"But you want tax dollars to go to schools, right?"

"Yes."

"Then you support the idea that people should pay taxes."

He stared at me for a moment and then shook his head, confused. I realized that he was just a kid who was trying to do something good and it wasn't his fault that the grassroots organization who sent him to hand out stickers didn't train him well, so I congratulated him on the good work he was doing, he beamed, and I went on my way.

*Triple bottom line benefits of walking 3 miles home from work: exercise, lowering my carbon footprint, and supporting public transportation since I have a monthly MetroCard pass and not using it after I paid for it means that I help subsidize the MTA! (OK, that third benefit was a stretch, but I'm sticking to it.)

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