LA Times columnist George Skelton this week came out in favor of a brand new tax: on the emails you send. He likes the idea of a Berkeley city councilman who believes we can cut down on spammers with a tiny per email tax. It would hit only those people who send a lot of emails, Skelton says, mentioning disreputable groups like mass marketer and con artists.

I reacted negatively at first to the idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw its wisdom. The government needs taxes. And other forms of communication – phone calls for example – are taxed. And as Milton Friedman liked to say, when you tax something, you get less of it. Who wouldn’t want less email?

Heck, by that standard, the problem with Skelton’s idea is that he doesn’t go far enough. There are no shortages of scourges that we might reduce through taxation: belly lint, tailgaters, D-list celebrities, reality television, and, well…

Blog posts

Can’t we agree that there are too many blog posts, thrown together without much reporting, obscure sites with animal names? They chew up gigabytes on the Internet, make us mad, and divide us. And sometimes they just waste our time, especially when they are jokey efforts to get hits and readers by mocking crazy tax proposals. One sometimes wonders why anyone reads even five paragraphs into such posts.

It’s all very meta.

The one small potential problem with Skelton’s push for a tax on annoying things, particularly communication, is knowing where to stop. First, you’re taxing spam, then regular email, then blog posts, and before long, they’re putting a tax on political columnists who throw out impractical ideas about taxing political and journalistic communication, all to fill some space on a Tuesday.