taxing on the brain

The fortunate thing about having little to do on a Wednesday afternoon is that it allows one to take a nap as well as watch some mindless television. Then there’s the time one can spend perusing the internet. Perusing the internet is great: it’s informative, and funny, and though-provoking; right now, it’s that last quality that’s got me screwing up my face, pondering the merits of an email tax.

Yes, that’s right, I just wrote email tax.

And you just read it.

And I’m not quite sure what to think about it.

I found an opinion piece on Prospect Magazine’s website this afternoon that suggests it might be a good idea that an email tax be implemented to deter spam-sending scum-bags (my words, not theirs) and make the lives of the general business community, as well as those of the general, non-spam-sending populous, much easier. You can find the piece here, and read for yourself the relatively solid arguments Edward Gottesman presents in favour of such a tax.

After reading what he had to say, the first thing I thought was, “who is this guy, and does he really know what he’s talking about?” Evidently, he does. Or, he should. I Googled him, and I found this little blurb:

Edward Gottesman is a member of the New York Bar who has lived and practised law in London for 40 years. He is the senior partner of the United States law firm Gottesman Jones & Partners LLP and a former president of the American Chamber of Commerce (United Kingdom). He is a member of the President’s Council on International Activities at Yale University.

So, the man knows his numbers — and his law. Granted, these are things I don’t know a whole lot about, but what I do know is that I’m just not ready to jump right on board with an email tax.

Generally, I know that this is just something he’s putting out there, and it’s not something that’s about to become law or anything, but I’m conflicted about it. I think he makes some valid points, and part of me thinks it would be a great idea. It would certainly be nice not to have to go through and delete spam emails all the time. I think there’s something to be said for the time, and the headache, that being rid of spam would save us all.

Taking more time to write out a longer email instead of writing 50, one-sentence, back-and-forth emails would likely be a good idea, too. It’s like Gottesman says at the end of his piece: We may have a greater respect for our thoughts if we remember that sending them has a price.

I find myself both agreeing with that thought, and being annoyed by it, because I’m not sure that thought should have more of a price than it already has. I shoot out a number of emails into cyberspace in the run of a day, and (though I know it might make me seem like I’m a bit spoiled) I think the beauty of email is that it’s free. We pay for pretty much every other form of communication (aside from chatting face-to-face — and if you want to get picky, we actually pay for that, too), and it is quite nice to know that you can send emails to your friends and family members without thinking too much about how much it will cost you at the end of the day.

Gottesman is not proposing something that would cost an enormous amount, but it would cost, none-the-less. It’s not lost on me that proposing that we pay more for things when we’re in a situation where many of us don’t have more to spend, is a bit much. I’m just a lowly blogger, though. What do I know?

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