Regular readers of The Rant will be unsurprised to learn that I am coming down with a particularly hideous cold. Hence, while dinner is cooking, I am going to use my failing strength to type out a blog entry since I have let things go for too long. Then I am going to go to bed, and desperately attempt to sleep this thing into the ground.
As you can imagine, though, the current state of my health (chest pain, chest congestion, head congestion, sinus misery, aches, pains, listlessness, sore throat, possible fever, etc.) made me take a second look at a spam e-mail that I received in my inbox today. After all, with my health, I probably was suffering from one of the conditions this e-mail purported to cure, which were:
ARTHRITIS, OSTEOPOROSIS, SCIATICA, BACKPAIN, SPONDYLOSIS, PAINFULL KNEES, BAD CIRCULATION, TENNIS ELBOW, STRESS, FROZEN SHOULDER, MIGRAINE, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, I.B.S, REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURY, CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME, M.E., DIABETES, INSOMNIA, DEPRESSION, M.S., STROKE, ECZEMA, PSORIASIS, SPORTS INJURY, COLITIS, CHRON'S DISEASE.
Oh, yes. Chron's Disease (insert Phil Bronstein joke here). Well, fortunately, I don't have that or Crohn's Disease either. Anyway, this e-mail informed me that the cure to these ailments was just a mouse-click away via ... wait for it ...
You know, part of me wonders whether we are all wrong about e-mail spammers. Sure, when I get spam mail, I must admit that like many people, I get a very faint, very brief desire to see the senders strung up by their thumbs and thoroughly bastinadoed. On the other hand, it is pretty ingenious for these direct marketers to separate fools from their money, and do so at such little expense and cost. Can you imagine the profit margins these fellows must have?
Now, clearly I am writing in jest, but I will say it's interesting on an economic level. After all, with all the hassles that junk e-mailers get from the Righteous God-Fearing Citizens of the Internet, such sales must have quite high costs, both economic and non-economic. Yet apparently it works, as spam would cease to exist if it was not profitable.
But how to make it not profitable?
Of course, as we all know, excessive regulation can destroy profits faster than a termite colony can devastate a lumber yard. But we can also surmise that despite the existence or creation of tough laws forbidding such spamming, that rogue operators will continue wasting our time with e-mails about making money from home. Hence, the solution is clear: we must ban anyone who has ever purchased goods through a spammed e-mail from the Internet.
OK, I'll admit that might be a bit drastic. Let's try this instead.
Perhaps we could create an alternate Internet where the spammers could spam to their hearts' content and everyone using the system would have implicitly agreed to get spammed.
Heck, the market could work that out on its own, with a little kick from the regulators. Think about it. In fact, I am sure someone besides me already did, because it is a pretty nifty idea. So if that's the case, then I hope my readers will put them up on a pedestal in the comments section. I'm just thinking out loud here.
Spammers could only send from approved ISPs while only being able to send to addresses on approved ISPs. Breaking these laws would result in severe monetary and non-monetary penalties, such as steep steep fines and being sentenced to forced labor. Furthermore, since all right-thinking humanity receives and hates spam e-mail, it would be easy to coordinate a global enforcement effort.
True, we'd have to take steps to ensure that good people weren't caught up in the dragnet, but we could do that by defining "mass e-mail" and "fines" in a proper manner, and that task would be aided by having competent investigators on our side.
I think it would work. Surely some of the techies could figure out ways to make this happen!
OK. Rant's done for today. I shall return ... well, we'll see when I beat this miserable cold. But hopefully very soon.Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 23, 2003 06:57 PM | TrackBack