Oh I quite agree re: mature/well-regulated.
But certainly countries like the UK and most of Northern Europe (and actually the US as well) is well-regulated and mature enough to handle high taxes without corruption related to that. There is also some complexity with low-tax regimes attracting criminals and money-laundering, because for various reasons it tends to be easier there.
Other parts of the world? Less so, for the reasons you point out.
Yeah and this is an interesting issue.
To understand it you have to go back to the roots of the welfare state, and a big part of that was equality and helping everybody. What perhaps doesn’t make so much sense now was that, back then, the difficulty was convincing the wealthier segments of the population that the poorer deserved any kind of equal treatment.
By not means-testing benefits (which reeked of Poor Laws and stuff, that’s a whole big UK historical rabbithole you can go down if you like!), they managed to create much better buy-in ACROSS society, because people thought “Ok, yeah, they take money and give it to the poor, but when I’m in the same situation, I get it too”.
When you start means-testing, whilst it makes a very simple rational sense, you create a divisive political climate where people do indeed think “Hey they took my money and gave it to those filthy poors, who can’t run their lives, and they’ll never give me anything!”. (Which again I think with history and the global nature of the economy - which has always been a thing since like 4000 BC - is naive - not stupid, just naive or shortsighted).
So do you see the logic behind the lack of means-testing?
As an aside, the boldest angle I’ve ever seen on this was from actually a lawyer, Patrick Atiyah who had a very deep insight into these issues, and wrote this terrifyingly compelling argument, that is kind of upsetting to read, but basically suggests that instead of have compensation systems and insurance and socialized medicine and so on, we should just have one giant “insurance” which everyone is forced to pay into, and compensates people when things go wrong.
One of his big bugbears, and something he was very right to be concerned about was that, in our societies, when a very serious and harmful wrong is committed, often no-one is technically at fault, and no compensation is due, to lives are ruined, and nothing can be done to help - and this is a huge reason why we have welfare and so on.