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>US is really odd how it emphasizes the benefit of the middleman over the benefit of the individual citizen (it seems).

I wonder what extent this is decided by how we vote. As long as voters pick the politician who prioritizes the middle man and gets their campaign contribution is selected over the politician who prioritizes the public but whose opponent gets the middleman's campaign contribution we will continue to see this behavior. The moral of the story is to look at the voters' actions and not their words. They select candidates based on oftentimes harmful criteria.

Is the public really to blame for this? Is there an actual broad constituency that doesn't want this, or at least who trusts an interest group to represent them and who doesn't want this?

Want and behavior aren't always aligned. Does anyone want to be unhealthy? Yet many people act in ways that makes them very unhealthy, some of whom have the ability to change it but choose not to.

How much does someone want something if they aren't willing to change their behavior to increase the chance of getting it?

Well, first of all, lobbying for good laws is a public goods/collective action problem, so it may not be optimal to spend money on pursuing it even if you are the "go getter" type.

Second, I was just addressing the claim that politicians pass these laws in response to broad support, by questioning whether such broad support actually exists, even if it doesn't translate into lobbying (since the implicit model i that politicians will still care about it).

I don’t want this? We are very bad in America about hiding taxes, e.g. through unfunded mandates and mandatory cross subsidies. We don’t need to do anything more for people to have even less insight into what the government actually collects from their paycheck.

That seems more like an argument for a different interface than against the service entirely -- that would justify making it so that you still have to see and sign a form that shows how much you're paying against what earnings.

I think you're falsely equating (as do the Norquist types)

a) "the financial burden of the tax should be explicit" (which is fair) and

b) "the paperwork should be unnecessarily burdensome" (which is sadistic).

Can someone explain how rayiner's argument goes against the idea of IRS-prepared taxes itself rather than the UX of the implementation? It sounds like he’s just trying to be devil’s advocate (to put it nicely).

Why are Norquist types inclined to impose even more burden on what the tax burden actually is? Even if the IRS calculated your taxes, you'd still get the bill to pay it. That's already more than could be said for payroll withholding, which is the primary "unseen" tax.

I don't know! I actually strongly lean toward the Norquist "taxes suck and need to be lower" approach. But for me, that was about making sure people are aware of the rate and amount. Making it painful to file is just sadistic (as I might have suggested before).

As I always like to say, we are getting the government we deserve.

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