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Government Communications The Almighty Buck

City Councilman: Email Tax Could Discourage Spam, Fund Post Office Functions 439

New submitter Christopher Fritz writes "The Berkeley, CA city council recently met to discuss the closing of their downtown post office, in attempt to find a way to keep it from relocating. This included talk of 'a very tiny tax' to help keep the U.S. Post Office's vital functions going. The suggestion came from Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak: 'There should be something like a bit tax. I mean a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email.' He says a one-hundredth of a cent per e-mail tax could discourage spam while not impacting the typical Internet user, and a sales tax on Internet transactions could help fund 'vital functions that the post office serves.' We all know an e-mail tax is infeasible, and sales tax for online purchases and for digital purchases are likely unavoidable forever, but here's hoping talk of taxing data usage doesn't work its way to Washington."
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City Councilman: Email Tax Could Discourage Spam, Fund Post Office Functions

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  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Friday March 08, 2013 @10:33AM (#43115415) Journal

    Dear nitwit,

    Your post advocates a

    ( ) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    (X) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    (X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    (X) Users of email will not put up with it
    (X) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    (X) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (X) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (X) Asshats
    (X) Jurisdictional problems
    (X) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (X) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (X) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    (X) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    (X) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (X) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

  • Re:FP? (Score:4, Informative)

    by JeanCroix ( 99825 ) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:00AM (#43115723) Journal

    I've never lived in a state where the tolls were retired and the booths torn down.

    It happened in Connecticut, but at the cost of an accident with 7 fatalities: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_Turnpike#Connecticut_abolishes_tolls [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:FP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:07AM (#43115789) Homepage Journal

    I've never lived in a state where the tolls were retired and the booths torn down.

    It happened in Connecticut, but at the cost of an accident with 7 fatalities: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connecticut_Turnpike#Connecticut_abolishes_tolls [wikipedia.org]

    According to the Wiki page you linked to, the 7 fatality crash is why they abolished tolls.

    Your post seems to indicate the opposite.

  • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by srbell ( 164773 ) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:23AM (#43115983)

    Good grief! And how exactly is it that the post office is due ANY funds from an email someone sends??? If they want more funds they should EARN it like the rest of us have to, not steal it from someone else that has earned it. If they're not making enough to keep things going then they should do like any other business and manage their costs and set prices appropriately.

  • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:52AM (#43116363)

    in fact, to further add to myself: the post office owned and operated the first telegraph lines. so there is precedent.

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:42PM (#43116997) Journal

    It's just a bunch of statements with no actual argument behind them.

    No, it isn't even slightly. Every point has been rehashed again and again and again on usenet and then again and again and again on forums. That's why this form was invented, to neatly summarize every sane argument about anti-spam systems ever made, and it does a very good job. Spend 2 minutes thinking and you can see how the checkboxes expand. Look, in order:

    Mailing lists and other legitamite users will be affected. Now, mailing list operators will become laiable for large tax bills. This will adversely affect a lot of open source projects and other things, no doubt.

    So, how do you propose to find the email senders and collect money? That's very non trivial (see later).

    How will you get the users of email to all adopt the system? For it to work, the entire system has to be switched worldwide overnight, otherwise people won't be able to receive emails.

    You think microsoft will implement that? If they don't who else will use the system? How much use will it be if you can't send an email to an Exchange user.

    Can you afford not to receive emails from abroad and thereby alienate those customers? Or, will you not tax emails from abroad?

    So what central controlling authority which does not exist is going to (a) scan every email to check for taxes or (b) enforce non-receipt of emails for which tax isn't paid. Since there's no global authority, how will this work?

    The trouble is if you don't tax users from abroad then open relays in other countries will be used to send spam. If they are taxed, how on earth do you propose to get the entire world to switch to this new system overnight?

    Asshats will find ways to sneak spam in anyway and leave some poor sap picking up the bill.

    There is no worldwide jusisdiction. How will the tax be implemented?

    Do you think the entire population will accept this new tax, or vote for hte guy who promises to repeal it?

    The armies of worm-ridden boxes will keep sending SPAM. Sure the users will foot the bill (then at least temporarily fix their box) but it will still be a game of whack-a-mole with no decrease in spam.

    Spam is profitable, so spammers will spend lots of money to figure out ways of sending spam. Just look at how much money is invsted in botnets now. If soverign governments cannot secure their networks from botnest, what hope do you think everyone else has?

    The person who suggested this is technically illiterate because he has failed to account for any of the problems.

    Philosophically, I feel sending mail should be free. It's just regular peer-to-peer internet communication like everything else, none of which is taxed. And tacing it would be hard. First: define email unambiguously.

    This is indeed a feelgood measure because it sounds nice but will not address the problem (see above).

  • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:15PM (#43118159) Homepage Journal

    The USPS isn't losing money, their budgetary problems stem from Congress, who mandated that they fund their entire pension system 75 years into the future. Nobody else is under those constraints. Without that artificial baggage, they make a profit every year.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.