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Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 290

by GPS Pilot (#46783523) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: System Administrator Vs Change Advisory Board

Did the Vice Chancellor know you were on his side -- i.e. that you thought this policy was ridiculous? I would have said "Sir, I will be your best ally in getting this policy repealed, but in the meantime we have to follow it." Or could he have gotten the impression that you were just gleefully implementing the policy like some tool? The former would set anyone up for promotion more than the latter.

Comment: Engel's Law (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46782051) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Why shouldn't I talk about valid statistics? Here is one of the many places you can find the statistics: http://www.motherjones.com/blu...
This article says Americans spent 33% of their incomes on food in 1963, and by 2009 this had dropped to only 6%.

It's called Engel's Law.

I know you're not the only person making less they did 15 years ago. There are probably millions like you, but in spite of that, Mother Jones can still point out how much more affordable food tends to be these days. Engel's Law has not been violated. Instead of writing another ad-hominem attack, you'd do better to use that time learning about Engel's Law: http://my.safaribooksonline.co...

(Hey, that author also cites milk as an example of something that is now consuming a smaller fraction of family budgets.)

Comment: Re:The reason why the laws are for sale. (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46781771) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Last time I checked, elections still work on the basis of one-person-one-vote. But how do you attract votes to your cause or to your philosophy? With political advertisements and marketing campaigns. Those cost money, and always will. Like it or not, speech really is money: if I stand on a soapbox in a vacant town square and express my views, I am exercising my First Amendment rights, but in a completely ineffectual way. If I purchase a full-page ad in the New York Times instead, my ideas will have infinitely greater impact.

This is why donations matter in a democracy. They affect the way that each one person exercises his or her one vote.

Comment: Re:The reason why the laws are for sale. (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46770953) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

What you are saying is that Political Action Committies with large budgets should have exactly the same amount of influence as PACs with small budgets. You have robbed Jane of her power to strengthen FooPAC by making a $15 donation to FooPAC, because it will have the same amount of influence regardless of whether Jane donates.

What also follows from this is that if the Build-a-KKK-Statue-on-the-Washington-Mall PAC raises $40, and in the outraged backlash, the We-Mustn't-Build-a-KKK-Statue-on-the-Washington-Mall PAC raises $53 million, Congress must give an equal amount of attention to both of those organizations.

Sorry, seems like you haven't thought this through.

Comment: Re:The reason why the laws are for sale. (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46767043) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

How would you implement your proposal?

Suppose Jane feels three time as strongly about issue foo as Joe does, and therefore she donates $15 to FooPAC and Joe only donates $5. Are you suggesting that FooPAC should be forced to refund $10 to Jane? Then no one would be free to act on their ethos more strongly than the weakest actor.

Comment: Re:Automating away bureaucracy... (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46766873) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Your anecdotal situation doesn't change the fact that there's a long-term trend in which basic commodities consume an ever-smaller fraction of average family income.

Your personal milk consumption habits don't change the fact that milk is a basic commodity.

Do you have a recurring habit of allowing your desire to be argumentative sap people's productivity, or of valuing anecdotes over bulk statistics?

Comment: Re:Benefits of third-party sites (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46764099) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Colorado had a perfectly simple online form, and then one year they rebuilt it to require Silverlight 2.0, of all things! Now, Silverlight 1.0 was the last version that supported PowerPC; that meant my not-that-long-in-the-tooth PowerMac G5, perfectly serviceable for all other web sites, was dead in the water.

I sent them a nasty nastygram, and the next year Silverlight was gone.

Comment: Benefits of third-party sites (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46760741) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Taxact.com, like Turbotax, provides an online "interview" that guides you through the process, makes complying with the law much easier, and finds deductions that you might otherwise overlook. I am glad that a third party is providing that service. And I'm glad that multiple third parties are doing this, and making continuous improvements because they are competing with each other on the basis of ease-of-use and correctness-of-calculations.

If the IRS had a monopoly on providing this service, and developed it in-house, you can bet it would be as user-friendly as waiting in line at the DMV. I'm not so naive as to claim that the third-party efforts are bug-free, but they're better than the IRS would do, because what motivation would a faceless IRS bureaucrat have to fix bugs in the software?

There's also a motivation to be secure: Third-party sites can be sued if your private data leaks out, but the IRS cannot be sued.

Comment: Quantifying the damage done by the tax code (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46760607) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

I once read that the amount of resources expended to simply comply with the IRS is equal to the gross state product of Iowa.

Think about it -- the entire output of a fairly prosperous state, wiped out by the overly-complex tax code!

(And that was about 20 years ago, when the tax code was less complex than it is now.)

Sure, tax simplification would be disruptive to Intuit (and also to firms that act less like vampires, like H&R Block). But no more disruptive than any other awesome efficiency-boosting development, like the invention of the LED.

Comment: Automating away bureaucracy... (Score 1) 416

by GPS Pilot (#46760387) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Think about this: thanks to incomes growing faster than the rate of inflation, basic commodities, like a gallon of milk, consume a significantly smaller fraction of a family's income than they did a generation ago. And that effect is orders-of-magnitude larger for technological commodities, like a gigaflop of computing power.

Government services, too, ought to be costing a smaller fraction of a family's income. (Especially because government uses technology to provide its services. Most government workers sit in front of a computer all day.) But government services are about the only thing that is bucking the trend, and consuming a larger fraction of a family's income!

Your fault -- core dumped

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