Spam Solution Isn't Legislation, Regulation or Technical -- It's Economic

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The Federal Trade Commission panelists got it right when they said the way to stop spammers is to hit them in the pocketbook. They got it wrong when they sought to do so through fines and lawsuits. This is hardly surprising since they are lawmakers and lawyers, not economists, and when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

The answer is right there in the beltway at the quasi-governmental organization known as the U.S. Postal Service.

Here's a riddle for the attorneys general of the sovereign states and the brain trust at the FTC: Why is it that e-mail's overwhelming volume is a problem the USPS would like to have?

The answer: It costs m-o-n-e-y to send snail mail!

The solution to the spam problem must be obvious at last to all -- it's not legislation, regulation or litigation. It's not even technical. It's economic.

It may even be a tool familiar to all in the beltway, what makes such munificent conferences and all other endeavors of our government possible -- a tax!

Charge e-mailers a penny a piece, payable in advance, at the ISP level, regardless of volume or content. Use the proceeds to pursue pornographers (leave it to the lawyers to define them) and charlatans, and even subsidize universal snail mail delivery -- whatever you like. Relax and let the invisible hand of the marketplace do the rest.

Terry Nugent, Director of marketing, Medical Marketing Service Inc., Wood Dale, IL

This is a 40 Under 40 Profile. Click here to see all profiles as well as previous year's winners.

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