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

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the let's-also-tax-keystrokes-and-thinking-about-cats dept.

Government 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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FP? (3, Funny)

dosius (230542) | about a year ago | (#43115357)

Good luck taxing e-mails sent from privately maintained offshore servers. :P

-uso.

Good idea (1, Redundant)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year ago | (#43115439)

Good idea; I wish there were a way to implement it.

Basically, emails do have a cost, both a real cost in the connections and computers that transmit and store them, and a time cost in the time I spend deleting them, and the fact that the senders don't bear this cost means that they overuse the resource. Hard to calculate that cost, but the hardware alone is certainly more than 0.01 cent per email if it's correctly pro-rated-- maintaining the internet is not without cost. A 0.1 cent per email cost would mean nothing to me, or to any legitimate users, but would stop indiscriminate spam.

Good idea. Only problem: how could we implement it?

Re:Good idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115591)

Yeah, they have a cost..,. that is why we pay for the Internet connections and servers that run them... tool.

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115787)

And our tax dollars already go towards the up keep of the internet's infrastructure.

Re:Good idea (4, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | about a year ago | (#43115595)

Like the ISP with google, you fail to remember that everyone with a network connection already pays for this access to their ISP.

Also, no one ever sends spam from their own computer, what do you think all the hacked windows botnets are used for? This would just make innocent people get smallish extra charges added to their normal ISP bill, and won't cost anything to the senders of spam.

Best case scenario if they managed to make this stupid idea into reality is that ordinary folks at home will pay more attention to computer security to make sure they won't get charged those extra dollars each month.

Re:Good idea (4, Funny)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#43115663)

>> "Good idea; I wish there were a way to implement it."

Your time would be better spent trying to save the Buggy Whip industry. They haven't been doing so well since the arrival of the horseless carriage.

You do have a Buggy Whip in your car, yes? If not, you're part of the problem.

Re:Good idea (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43115769)

You do have a Buggy Whip in your car, yes?

Well sure! How else are we supposed to fend off the street urchins?

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115907)

Well sure! How else are we supposed to fend off the street urchins?

Shotgun loaded with rock salt?

Re:Good idea (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#43115867)

The buggy whip industry died (and is used as a common example because it died) as a result of something better that completely and utterly replaced the horse drawn carriage. Unfortunately, its a bad example to use because often, especially in debates here on Slashdot, the industry being compared has not been replaced either in whole or in part.

I'm not defending the point of the article, but email has only replaced a small part of the packet mail delivery industry - I can't send a physical item through email, I can't send documents I need to confirm someone at the other end received, I can't get an email insured etc etc etc.

Yes, the packet mail delivery industry is suffering, and it needs to do one or more of three things - raise prices, find other revenue sources or lower costs.

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115699)

A 0.1 cent per email cost would mean a lot to me. For a start it would mean my bank account had to be tied to my email address.

Re:Good idea (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43115819)

Or you could get a bill monthly from your ISP or something. They would just be monitoring emails sent from your IP. Of course, that wouldn't work for webmail in which just a browser session, and not the email itself, is sent to you.

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115753)

and when your pc or your spouses, or oh wait this is slashdot - so back to my original entry line and when your computer is taken over as part of a spambot, you get to pay your .01 cents for each of the 15,000 e-mails you send via your hacked computer.

Way to go waste your money...

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115805)

Emails may have a cost. But if you exclude the recipient cost (which varies), it'll cost far more to set up systems to charge for them.

But if the customers are fine with it, I'm sure the ISPs will be very happy to invest in systems so that they can charge us 1/100th what the mobile telcos charge for text messaging.

Re:Good idea (3, Informative)

srbell (164773) | about a year ago | (#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:FP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115459)

Indeed. Taxes will simply encourage all of our job-creating spam corporations to offshore their lucrative jobs.

Re:FP? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115465)

No tax ever stays in the advertised form.

Just in case someone reads this who has not experienced many examples already, consider the US federal income tax. The amendment describes a progressive tax of 1, 2, or 3 percent, and the reason it does not include the original line of "and not to exceed 10 percent" is because the politicians of the day thought that adding such a line would be seen as permission to raise the tax to 10 percent by their successors.

I have in Real Life(TM) ranted plentifully about road and bridge projects with a toll that were sold as "until the building cost is paid off" but persist many decades after all possible construction expenses had been paid simply because the regional government likes the revenue.

Re:FP? (1)

dosius (230542) | about a year ago | (#43115497)

You mean like the Grand Island Bridges between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY?

-uso.

Re:FP? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43115733)

or the entire NYS thruway

Re:FP? (3, Interesting)

satch89450 (186046) | about a year ago | (#43115631)

Regarding bridges/roads and tolls: One of the rationales for keeping tolls on roads and bridges is to collect money to maintain the roads/bridges once they are paid off. I've seen this reasoning used in three states, and in all cases the tolls were increased "because the cost of maintaining the roads keeps going up." In Cook County IL, the real reason the tolls were kept on is because sub-standard work had to be torn up and re-done -- multiple times. The reason the work was sub-standard is left as an exercise to the reader.

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

Dig a little deeper, and you find out that the governments appreciate how tolls free up general revenue for other spending.

Re:FP? (3, Informative)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#43115723)

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? (4, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43115789)

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:FP? (2)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#43115871)

Eh? The crash was the impetus, but from TFL: "While the 1983 Stratford accident was cited as the main reason for abolishing tolls in Connecticut, the underlying reason was the fact that federal legislation at that time forbade states with toll roads from using federal funds for road projects."

Either way, the point is that there exists at least one state in which 'tolls were retired and the booths torn down.' It's not unprecedented.

Re:FP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115951)

One of the rationales for keeping tolls on roads and bridges is to collect money to maintain the roads/bridges once they are paid off

Then they may as well be privately owned. Seriously -- what's the difference? Especially on highways where tolls obviously defeat the entire purpose -- it might as well be privately owned and operated for profit. After all, that is exactly what the business of government is doing, the only difference being that government falsely claims to be doing it "for the people".

Hashcash (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#43115531)

On the other hand, hashcash would work. No tax revenue from people offshore, but you still force them to burn CPU cycles which has basically the same effect.

Re:Hashcash (1)

green1 (322787) | about a year ago | (#43115715)

What Spammer sends anything from their own machines? When you're sending from a botnet of millions, what real effect will chewing up someone else's CPU cycles have?

Re:Hashcash (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#43115839)

Well, let's put it this way: if the spam can send ten messages per second per machine in a botnet, and you force them spend one sec per message to compute hashcash tokens, then you have reduced the rate of spam by a factor of ten. Reducing the rate of spam doesn't end spam, but it does help.

Re:Hashcash (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43115927)

It affects everyone by a factor of 10, and does nothing to fix the problem. All it does is add a ton of implementation costs and new ways for the system to break.

Re:FP? (2)

ledow (319597) | about a year ago | (#43115535)

Or botnets.

How will it stop spammers who aren't even sending the messages from their own computers anyway? All it will do is add $50 to the bill of anyone who gets infected (which is not, of itself, a bad thing, but it adds a whole new level of complexity, collection and appeal problems) and the original spammers will not pay a penny.

And all that will happens is that email will move offshore. Will you tax per email received or sent? Sent from US only? Sent through non-US servers from a US computer with a VPN? Sent from original accounts or relayed through webmail (e.g. will GMail have to pay for me to send email even though I'm not in the US?)?

To be a tax, it has to be collectable. That means people paying it (instead of avoiding it) and a way to determine who needs to pay it with some level of accuracy.

If you want to push tech companies off-shore, it's a good way to do it, I grant you. Even then, it's uncollectable.

Re:FP? (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43115833)

All it will do is add $50 to the bill of anyone who gets infected (which is not, of itself, a bad thing...)

Oh, yes it is - it's an example of victim blaming, [wikipedia.org] and it is a very, very bad thing.

Not that I disagree with the concept that folks need to be 'incentivized' in order to do things they should be doing anyway, but I don't believe punishing people for being attacked is the right way to go about it.

Re:FP? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43115961)

If people are leaving their car keys in their cars, and there have been a rash of incidents where cars were stolen (keys already being in them) and used to commit various crimes and hit/ runs, then people who continue to leave their keys in their cars are absolutely part of the problem.

Victim blaming is incorrect if it tries to assign all blame to a victim, but there are many cases where the victim made poor choices which directly contributed to whatever has happened to them. You cant just pretend we live in a world where thats irrelevant, because its not.

Re:FP? (5, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#43115709)

No-one's explained -why would I want to fund the post office?

I just get spam and bills and rubbish. If it cost loads for these clowns to post me rubbish perhaps it would dissuade them and they'd have to actually provide value. The post office should be helping me by preventing it; instead they've stated they need all the spam to survive. Well, I'd rather they not survive.

Berkley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115365)

Stupid Fuckers.

yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115385)

Your idea will not work because...

Re:yeah. (4, Funny)

Inda (580031) | about a year ago | (#43115443)

[x] You're an idiot
[x] It's a dumb idea
[x] Email doesn't work like that
[x] You're an idiot

And you know what would help even more? (5, Insightful)

dosius (230542) | about a year ago | (#43115389)

How about not forcing the postal service to keep 75 years' worth of back-funding for pensions?

-uso.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (2)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43115585)

How about converting everyone to 401k retirement plans, like he rest of us.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (-1, Flamebait)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43115651)

Because that's forcing the government to invest in private institutions, and also: 401ks suck. They're awful, and only really represent a way to fleece a few more cents out of workers, in a way that leaves them no legal recourse when they blow up(and they blow up every 20 years like clockwork).

Re:And you know what would help even more? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115771)

Then suck it up and FULLY fund the pensions and don't depend on a government bail out when they fail to fund it fully.

We, the taxpayers, are tired of EVERY federal agency offering large pensions that we don't get, that get bailed out every time there is a shortfall forcing OUR retirement to reduce because of corrupt officials. We are not your personal pocketbook to decide how much of our money we should be allowed to keep.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115891)

We, the non contard tax payers are sick of your lies. The postal retirement fund does not need to be funded for 75 years to be solvent...LIAR.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43115919)

You sound like you have no understanding of accounting, nor of human life-spans. Why 75 years?

Re:And you know what would help even more? (2)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43115845)

Because that's forcing the government to invest in private institutions

You mean like...G.M.?

Besides, the taxpayer will take it in the ass regardless. 401k plans are better than us being on the hook to pay some guy his full salary and benefits after he's retired.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43115911)

Yes, I do mean like G.M. That was unprecedented, and I'm pretty sure many people believe there were better alternatives to stock purchase.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115939)

Because that's forcing the government to invest in private institutions,

No, no it's not. It forces *individuals* to invest in private institutions. It also has the benefit of being at least one level removed from politicians seeking to spend someone else's money.

Additionally, pensions funds are typically invested in private institutions as well. What do you think CALPERS does with all of that money they collect - just sit on their hands? They invest pretty much every dime they collect. So in effect, the government is *already* investing in private institutions.

401ks suck

If you can think of a better investment vehicle for retirement, by all means, feel free to share it with the rest of us. (Be aware that Roth 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, and the corresponding 403 plans for government employees are all roughly the same outside of the tax implications and some other minor features.)

They're awful, and only really represent a way to fleece a few more cents out of workers,

Really? The 401(k) loads are typically on the order of 0.75% per year, and less if you invest in index funds. That means that any employer match over 0.75% is a net GAIN of a "few cents" for workers.

in a way that leaves them no legal recourse when they blow up(and they blow up every 20 years like clockwork).

Every generation, but yes - you need to be able to survive a short- to moderate-term recession. Diversification is important. The people with diversified 401(k)s didn't see an erosion of their wealth.

Also, see above: pension funds suffered the same fate, because they were invested the same way.

Pensions are seen as good only by those irrational enough to assume that rainbow-colored unicorns fart dollars that cover the pensions in the event of a "market correction" or company bankruptcy, instead of being covered by the 60% of people that actually pay federal taxes and fund the PBGC. Additionally, there's a good reason that we make Congress and the USPS fund their pensions out to 75 years: those of us that actually pay taxes have watched union leaders and politicians negotiate in bad faith over pension benefits that can never be paid. If you think I'm making this up, just look at the state budgets and pension obligations for California, Illinois, and New York - they are so far in the hole on pension obligations that it is unlikely they will be able to pay their pensioners in a number of years.

So yeah, everyone should get converted to 401(k)s (or 403s) in place of pensions.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115717)

Yes. Let's immediately dump a large sum of money into the stock market. There is no way that can fail.

As a current owner of stock, I REALLY hope they do this and do it quickly. I can't wait to make a killing just like I did the last time it happened.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115941)

It is getting tiring seeing this being pushed repeatedly. The postal service has to estimate what retiree costs will be out to 75 years and account for these projected costs on their balance sheets. But they are under no obligation to fund anything but the expected costs of current and former employees.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/45018432/The_Truth_About_The_Post_Office039s_Financial_Mess

Re:And you know what would help even more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115979)

Why not privatize the Postal Service? Fed-Ex and UPS do one heck of a job getting things delivered at as much as you are willing to pay to get it there in a specific time frame. The USPS offers the same but regularly fails to deliver on time, in a reasonable time and even not ever at all.

Plus besides adverts, mags and bills, who uses them anymore anyway? I pay everything online and have to dig for a while to find the pack of forever stamps I bought a few years back when I do have to mail a letter.

If they can't keep up with the times, do their jobs properly in a timely manner and provide the services paid for reliably, then why not change the way they do business.

Re:And you know what would help even more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115985)

Just like with borrowing from Social Security, by forcing US Postal Service to pre-fund pensions lets government to borrow money from pension plan without affecting the credit markets. The Social Security used to be almost endless well of free money to borrow but it started to dry up lately so they had to come up with another source of free money.

If not for those loophole US Government would be forced to pay higher interest rates on their obligations. So literally the US Government is stealing money from these organizations, because it pays lower interest rate than it would have been if they borrowed on the open market.

Do you think they would stop if you ask them nicely? I don't think so.

Stupid politicians don't understand that once Social Security will have to call in all those Treasury bonds the interest rates will hit double digits and there will be no way for them to balance the budget even if they try and country will be faced with default.

Didn't Gates suggest this a long while back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115393)

Didn't Bill Gates suggest this a long while back?

Cute idea (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43115397)

It's a cute idea, but clearly this city councilperson doesn't understand how email works.

Even if he did understand... (5, Funny)

neoshroom (324937) | about a year ago | (#43115635)

The day after email is taxed is the day fmail is created.

__

Re:Even if he did understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115727)

f-mail, because f-you, you worthless parasites!

(shortly afterward, Google is sued by the city of Berkeley on claims that the 'g' in 'gmail' means 'gank')

OMG, the post office is closing? (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43115401)

where else will i go to meet and talk to people i know for an hour or two at a time? its like a town meeting square where people go for hours just to stand around

Berkeley City Council (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43115403)

Berkeley is a college town, so a large block of voters are students with no long term interest in the community. So a lot of kooks get elected.

Re:Berkeley City Council (3, Insightful)

serialband (447336) | about a year ago | (#43115613)

That would be true of any November ballots, if students even vote in large enough numbers. June ballots are not affected since students are out of town. The kooks are voted in because the town is full of kooks. A lot of people have settled in and taken root.

Many Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115405)

still seem to believe that USA == World

Haven't needed this in awhile... (5, Informative)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#43115415)

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:Haven't needed this in awhile... (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#43115795)

Came here for this. /thread

Re:Haven't needed this in awhile... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115803)

The list above is moronic. It is wrong for the following reasons:

1) Mailing list etc.: Screw them. We don't need to let them come close to illegal activities without a cost to them. If you want to do a business that is very similar to a criminal enterprise, then you should bear reasonable costs to prove you are not a criminal enterprise. Even if what you are doing is legal.
2) Collecting money: If the email doesn't have a legal code showing it paid taxes, it gets automatically rejected and sent back to the sender
3) I am a user of email and I not only will put up with it, I WANT it.
4) Microsoft has no power or right to stop it.
5) Why do you think people can't spend 1 cent per hundred email? But anyway, it is not our legal responsibility to make life easy for the incompetent. See answer #1 above. Regulations are a part of business. If you can't comply, then you don't deserve to run the business., or get a job. But honestly, this w
6) We don't need a central authority for emails, we can do it with codes. Pay a tax, get a code number. Email software rejects those without the code.
7) Open relays in foreign countries are fine, it doesn't affect those that use the code rejection system
8) Screw the Asshats - and send them to jail for tax crimes
9)Armies of virus infected window boxes might actually get cleaned up if they were costing the idiots money by spamming
10) We are reducing the profitability of spammers.
11) Technically illiterate politicians are still smarter than YOU and came up with this solution
12) Saying something should should be free, it doesn't make it so. In fact, it isn't free - it costs the ISPs money every time you send an email, just such a small amount (electricity, electronic upkeep), that they don't charge for it. They should. The fact you don't know this represents your own foolishness.
13) This isn't a feel good measure, it actually solves the problem.

14) This idea is smarter than you - You are moron that can't actually come up with a valid counter-argument, so you resort to a list that other people made.

Reasons why this hasn't actually been tried yet:
1) A bunch of idiots like you that don't even want to try
2) Lobbying from the 'legal' mailing list people whose activities, while not actually criminal, are very close to it. They don't want to take responsibility for their

Re:Haven't needed this in awhile... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#43115981)

Sorry, Gordon. The truth hurts some time. If this idiotic suggestion didn't make it clear that you have no clue how things work, this post certainly does.

Stick to taking your kickbacks, Councilman. Leave the technical stuff to the professionals.

Re:Haven't needed this in awhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115929)

Specifically, your plan fails to account for:
(X) Asshats

Does anyone ever properly account for asshats?

Maybe, instead... (1)

Ashenkase (2008188) | about a year ago | (#43115447)

The city councillor can impose a liquorice tax on all emails sent within his jurisdiction. For every 1 trillion emails sent, a person must place one stick of liquorice on the councillors desk.

That makes about as much sense as what the councillor is proposing.

Just to be clear, I don't like liquorice all that much.

Let's use a gas tax to fund horse and buggies (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115457)

After all, who are we to say that buggy whip manufacturers are any less deserving of our support?

Finaly some who does his job (1)

Krneki (1192201) | about a year ago | (#43115467)

WTF?! Seriously, why are we paying this idiots for?

This idea is so stupid it doesn't even need a technical explanation why it will fail to produce anything good.

Here we go: (0, Redundant)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#43115473)

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
( ) 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
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) 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
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) 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
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) 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
( ) 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!

After I lick the stamp, (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115489)

Do I put the stamp on my monitor or insert it into my computer's cup holder?

If only they'd thought of this ... (5, Funny)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year ago | (#43115491)

For only a few dollars extra per car, all the blacksmiths would still be in business.

Clear lack of understanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115493)

Considering most spam is sent via botnet computers, you'd end up just taxing John Q Taxpayer who just happens to have a virus, and not discourage spam at all. Just raise the rest of our tax liability.

USPS full of junk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115517)

If USPS were private firm, it would already have been through chapter 11 and had courts re-organize the pension plan. Promises were made by management that can't be kept. And shame on unions for greediness.

If rates are to be raised on anything, let it be done on *JUNK* mail, or as USPS euphemistically puts it: "standard" mail. Really. Very telling.
http://www.nooga.com/157417/usps-leaders-aim-to-increase-standard-mail-aka-junk-mail/

Re:USPS full of junk (2)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43115577)

So what this guy wants is to tax a service that the USPS doesn't provide, to help fund the USPS. That's fucking idiotic. Second, if you want to reduce the cost of the USPS, don't stop delivery on Saturday. Stop it on EVERY day of the week, except one. It's 2013 and nobody uses the USPS for anything that is time sensitive. The only thing I get in my mail is junk. I have a trash min literally at my door, just so I can reach out the door, get the mail, and directly dump it into the trash every day. Anything that is a package, I get through UPS or FEDEX or DHL. Almost everything else is handled online. I do not need mail delivery five or six days every fucking week just for the one letter that a person might send me two or three times a year. Weekly delivery would completely suffice.

Re:USPS full of junk (1)

Pope (17780) | about a year ago | (#43115781)

So, stop the mail service because YOU don't use it. Gotcha.

Re:USPS full of junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115949)

I'm having to post this anonymously so I don't undo the mods I've made in here...

At any rate, several companies are using "UPS Mail Innovations" for shipping now (I'm looking at YOU, newegg!), which uses the USPS for, at minimum, local delivery. More packages are being delivered at least partially via USPS than you seem to think...

Re:USPS full of junk (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115703)

Normally I'm rather polite but since you're a complete idiot I'll forgoe that. You have no clue what you're talking about. The only reason the USPS is doing poorly is because the Republican controlled congress forced them to prefun their pension plan for the next 75 years over a 10 year span. Any entity corporate or otherwise would be going through hardship due to this. Nothing to do with "greedy unions", "poor management" etc ad nauseum. You clearly have no fucking clue what you're talking about and the postal service isn't even allowed to expand to other services because "that would hurt the private sector" wahhh wahhh wahh. It's funny for all the crap about how private sector runs better, this governmental organization has continued to stay afloat despite running a deficit, while under extreme duress and without government funds and while paying their workers a decent wage. Maybe the private sector could learn a bit from them.

Re:USPS full of junk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115855)

Normally I'm polite, but you are a socialist, so I'll forget that. USPS is a has-been, barely surviving by dumpster-diving for junk mail. The pension plans were based on wild optimism. You are clearly want taxpayers to be held responsible for everything, no matter how stupid.

Taxes are not free to collect (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#43115563)

This has been pondered before. Issue is always the same. The cost of collection would be greater than any perceived benefit.

Gas Taxes to Save the Buggy Whip Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115605)

In practice, this is no different conceptually than what the subject of this post suggests. Taking money for the use of new technologies that supersede an older technology in order to sustain the now obsolete technology. This is waste pure and simple. While there will always be a need for old fashioned mail delivery, it simply doesn't need the infrastructure and resources that it use to. Will individual letter deliver be more expense, sure; but you'll only use it when you really need.

This is the same sort of thing that happened train passenger service in the U.S. (leading to Amtrak) and also demonstrates why goverments cannot manage economies: they make very uneconomic decisions like this.

No compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115653)

We are not going to pay an email tax, period.

I pay for the internet connection, I pay for the hardware, I pay for the software, and I pay for the communications. I would withold all taxes, if that is even attempted.

Not a completely useless idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115659)

A minor modification could turn this into a viable method for the post office to generate revenue from email.

What if, instead of taxing email, USPS was to provide end-to-end encrypted email for something like $.10 per message?

Re:Not a completely useless idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115915)

What if, instead of taxing email, USPS was to provide end-to-end encrypted email for something like $.10 per message?

But I want decryption on my end!

I want the tax on emails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115667)

Look, I email as much as the next guy. But a 1 cent tax per hundred emails would cost practically nothing and kill many spammers.

I say tax them and be done.

As for the idea of taxing per gigabyte, that is garbage. It would kill video.

Re:I want the tax on emails (1)

Andrew Lindh (137790) | about a year ago | (#43115825)

You would think that an email tax would stop SPAM, but YOU will now have to pay the tax receiving all the SPAM. Then if your system (or your neighbor using your wifi) is infected with a bot net you'll have to pay the tax for sending all the SPAM!

Better idea (5, Insightful)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#43115683)

How about we levy a $10,000 "tax" for politicians that introduce stupid legislation.

Hot air idea (2)

no-body (127863) | about a year ago | (#43115701)

Those polititians can't fix the real issues, so they dream up nonsense to make headlines and get reelected.

There is enough money around to fix all problems, it's not used properly by the people controlling it.

Let it die. Seriously. (2)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43115725)

Why exactly do we want to find yet another way to siphon money from the public to maintain an obsolete business model that, as far as I can tell, exists solely to deliver snail-spam to my door?

I have no objection to paying $4.99 to FedEx for the once or twice each year I actually send something in a #10 envelope... As long as it means the literally hundreds useless catalogs (plus credit card and life insurance offers, plus political fliers in even-numbered years) I get per year need to do the same - By which I mean, hopefully that would effectively end unsolicited commercial/charitable/political mail.

Wealth Tax (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115741)

How about we transition from an Earned Income Tax to a Wealth Tax?

Everyone with a disproportionately large share of the wealth must pay something like 10% of the difference annually. That way, only the 1% would pay any tax, and government would have more than enough funds to provide essential services like the post office, broadband, and other services it is constitutionally obligated to provide under the general welfare clause.

Mission creep (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about a year ago | (#43115763)

The Postal Service was sort of a socialist effort to raise up the American people and equalize access to information and commerce.
The USPS is primarily a taxpayer subsidy of a few dubious and onerous types of predatory businesses. (Raise the price of junk-mailing, anyone?)
The Berkeley city council probably was set up to regulate local social intercourse and promote local business interests,

as they say, the rest is history.

Re:Mission creep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115995)

The Postal Service was sort of a socialist effort to raise up the American people and equalize access to information and commerce./i
Never mind that clause in the constitution or anything...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Enumerated_powers

"To establish Post Offices and post Roads"

Geeze some peoples kids...

Think globally, act locally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115765)

Start by taxing all emails in Berkeley. Problem solved (at the next election)!

Very tiny tax? (2)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about a year ago | (#43115785)

"Very tiny tax"? That's how they all start off. Just pay us a little more. It's not much, so you shouldn't complain. And then it becomes a little more. And a little more. And a little more, until suddenly you find more than a quarter of your annual income is going to fund all kinds of crap you never wanted in the first place.

No, no, no ... (2)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about a year ago | (#43115791)

... this is so lame! Think how much better it would be to put a tax on verbs! Then you could derive income from speech, text, posts, signage, display, heck, even thinking!

More of the PO blaming email for its demise (1)

yt8znu35 (1202731) | about a year ago | (#43115813)

Only a complete moron would support this. Once a tax, always a tax.

Here's a better idea: deregulate the mail (2)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | about a year ago | (#43115863)

Why not? Fedex and UPS have perfected delivery of packages so why not the mail? I'm not sure what magic the USPS possesses that private industry couldn't do better anyway. Barring that, how about mail rates that make sense ? I live in Maryland and it doesn't make sense to me that I can send a piece of first class mail to New York City and Nome Alaska for the same price.

Uhmmm... NO (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#43115879)

Stop making the PO pre-fund pensions forpractically hundreds of years in advance, and get rid of the pension plan and go to 401ks like most of the people have instead and the PO will be fine. Don't try slapping another tax on people to support the bad business decisions the US Congress forced on the PO.

Government is eternally greedy. Status: True (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43115883)

Looks like Snopes spoke too soon [snopes.com] .

How will it slow spam? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115897)

So who would pay the tax on the spam emails?

If it is the recipient then that will not curb spam. Why would I pay for unsolicited emails.

If it is the sender, well that does not fix it either. Spammers will send email outside of anywhere that supports this tax.

Per usage does not work either for curbing spam. If I pull up my mailbox and it pulls in the spam, then I still pay for unsolicited data.

Spammers don't follow the laws in place now, why would anyone think they would do anything that cuts into their bottom line?

This is like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115903)

Digging a hole to get the dirt to fill another hole.

Road tax can reduce drive-by shootings (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year ago | (#43115909)

It might work, but there may be a bit of collateral damage.

Contact address (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43115917)

Here is the email address of Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak

gwozniak@cityofberkeley.info

You know what to do.

no way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115937)

Why fund a dying defunct business model with a business that has nothing to do with it.
Raise the cost of the mail to the people that send the SPAM MAIL in the regular mail.
Duh!
And I think the reason why post office is broke. Its about paying all the retirements.

Ive worked all my life. No one is paying my retirement.
The only thing I need in mail is ...... can't think of one..... I gave up netflix a couple years back. Maybe the post office should tax online streaming services. Netflix was a huge part of their business. Now that's gone.
Ups and fedex deliver better than the post office too.
Maybe they should pay a tax too....
Or perhaps the post office should start being run as a business. That's responsible to its shareholders to create a profit.

What about the cost to implement it? (1)

dsvick (987919) | about a year ago | (#43115953)

Sure charge everyone a hundredth of a cent for each email, assuming my account doesn't get hacked, I'll need to pay a penny or two each month. No problem.

But wait .... who's going to pay to set up the monitoring process, the billing process, the dispute process, the collection process, and the method of getting the money to where it is that it's supposed to go? So my $.01 per month just turned into $1.00 or $2.00.

Politicians should be required to prove they have a minimum IQ and a certain level of common sense before being allowed to run in an election

No new taxes -- you clowns waste the money. (1, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year ago | (#43115969)

I don't think our problem is a lack of revenue; it's bad spending.

First, government is massively inefficient at every level thanks to the "government job" mentality and the tendency to over-hire bureaucrats.

Second, many government programs are pure pork barrel designed to appease certain special interest groups or make cronies rich.

Finally, government is a self-justifying agenda. In order to justify its cost, it needs to constant invent new mission creep in order to give a "legitimate" need for increased and continuing funding.

Let's do this like we would do in a private business, and get out the red pen and go over the books and cut the fat, not tax people even more. Even if this is a tiny tax, the mental outlook on which we embark with it is a bad precedent and will only get worse.

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