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costs of bureaucracy (was Re: [xml-dev] Not using mixed content?Then don't use XML)

On 4/7/13 9:40 PM, David Lee wrote:
> Totally agree, abuse of bureaucracy would be so much easier without
> those schemas forcing you to be creative.

Taxes are the classic "There Is No Alternative" argument here.  Are you 
really sure you want to use it?

If there's a precautionary tale where "everyone should pay the same, for 
X definition of same" has evolved to take on mythical levels of 
complexity, abuse in many forms, and mega-industries built to support 
all of those opportunities, it's taxes.  The abuse companies and 
individuals apply to their own workings to (legally) twist themselves 
and their data into a form that (efficiently) fits those structures is a 
cost we never even calculate.

We depend on those mammoth bureaucracies to make things work, but 
despite frequent bursts of frustration about their many costs, the 
situation generally improves only marginally, and the number of data 
structures grows rapidly.

There are a few taxes that are simple, but the system overall is not, 
and even their maintainers have a hard time keeping up. To take a non-US 
example from a source you may have heard of, see:


We haven't even gotten to the vexing question of how much people should 
pay in taxes - just the form.

> It would be really awesome if in he US I Didn't have to fill in those
> tax forms precisely and could just supply whatever data in whatever
> form I wanted, especially if I could skip those pesky constraints
> about how to calculate how much I owe.

You certainly can lie on tax forms, and people do.  The validation of 
that data is less about the form and more about redundant collection of 
data from an ever-growing number of perhaps independent sources.  If 
they all line up, then the data that happens to be in the form is likely 
true, or close enough.

Validating the calculation is about the simplest smallest piece of the 
puzzle, though it's certainly a place where people make mistakes.

Simon St.Laurent

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