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We have lost the ability to communicate rationally and intelligibly

This is the time of the year when I have to pay the municipal taxes for my business and, to do it, I went to the same municipal web site I have used for years, to pay online. Yet, to my surprise, the payment was not accepted. An automatic message said the information I entered was incorrect. 

I began the process again and this time I carefully checked every number, every detail, and every word. But the problem persisted. A new automatic message said the information was still incorrect, but it was not. 

I called the municipal help line and I asked for an explanation. I was told that there was probably a discrepancy in their records. They asked me to scan the documents of my business and email the documents to them. I sent the information requested and I got a message saying in 48 hours the issue would have been solved. 

Two days later, trusting the “48 hours” message was true, I went online to pay for taxes and, once again, an automatic message told me “Rejected”, indicating the information was incorrect. To avoid delays and potential fines, I went in person to the municipal building and I explained the problem. 

“Mr. Miraval”, an employee told me, “when our system asks you for tax number, please ignore the request for your federal number or your personal number. Please use the municipal tax number we gave to you”. 

“Very well. But, when did you give me that number and how can I access it?”, I asked. 

The employee then told me that, given the fact that all payments were now digital, the number I needed to use was sent in a message to the account I needed to access to pay my taxes. Of course, to access that account I needed the number that was inside the account. 

Let me be clear: there was a change in the way the local municipality handled tax payments. And the new number to pay taxes was inside the system to pay taxes. But without that number you can’t access the system to know the number. 

For some reason, perhaps looking at the expression of horror, unbelief, and frustration on my face, the employee checked something in his computer and then wrote down my tax number on a piece of paper. I went back to my office and went online to pay and… nothing. Still the same message about “incorrect information”. 

I called again the municipal help line and I explained the problem. “How many digits the number has?”, she asked me. I told her “14”. “That’s the problem. You only need to input the first 8 digits”. 

“And why nobody ever told me that before?”, I wanted to ask, but I didn’t, fearing that there were more secret and unknown codes to discover. 

I finally paid my taxes online, but something is now clear: we have lost, probably forever, the ability to communicate with each other in a reasonably and intelligibly manner. 

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