The Dictator's Handbook
- Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
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By looking at how much tax has to be paid at a given income level across countries we get close to comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
In autocracies, it is unwise to be rich unless it is the government that made you rich. And if this is the case, it is important to be loyal beyond all else.
As for all the rules and exceptions that make the US tax code so complicated, these inevitably result from politicians doing what politicians inevitably do: rewarding their supporters at the expense of everybody else.
Taxation, resource extraction, and borrowing are the foremost ways of acquiring funds for enriching a coalition. Discussions that portray taxation differently are either window dressing to make the process seem more palatable or are making arguments based on how people would like the world to work. Leaders tax because they need to spend on their coalition.