What 'courage' Looks Like to a Big-Time Newspaper Columnist: Taxing Email


Profiles in courage. ||| Sactown Magazine
Sactown Magazine

You've almost certainly never heard of George Skelton, but he has been the main California-politics columnist for the Golden State's largest newspaper for the last two decades, and he covered politics for the L.A. Times (in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C.) for the two decades before that. You can plausibly use him as a stand-in for the basic political values commonly found in our nation's leading newsrooms.

And George Skelton not only wants to tax your email, he thinks proposing a tax on your email marks the height of political courage. Stand back, people, it's newspaperin' time!

The most courageous politician in California — probably the nation — is a Berkeley city councilman, Gordon Wozniak. His gutsy act: proposing that the government tax email.

Wozniak, 59, suggested taxing email during a recent council meeting as the city went on record opposing the sale of the Berkeley main post office and urging the Postal Service to maintain all its services there. […]

An email tax — as part of a broader Internet tax — could raise money to help keep the Postal Service afloat, Wozniak told the council.

"There should be something like a bit tax," he said. "I mean, a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year…. And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email."

So crazy it JUST MIGHT WORK. |||

I don't know about taxing gigabits. I'm not even sure what they are.

But email I'm as familiar with as a nagging toothache. I spend way too much of my day, as do many workers who depend on computers, hitting the delete key or — even more time-consuming — routing spam into the junk file and trying to block out the arrogant sender forever. […]

So leave me alone. And stop clogging my inbox.

Or how about you leave me alone, George Skelton, by not taking my money in the name of keeping open money-losing post offices?

Read the whole column for such columnar brain-fartery as "I'd allow everyone a certain number of untaxed, private emails a month — 100, maybe 200. After that, each message would cost one cent, up to a certain size." Hat tip to Michael C. Moynihan.

Reason's past George Skelton archive.