Friday, March 8, 2013

The Wozniak EMail Tax

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, is justly revered in Silicon Valley. Wozniak built the Apple I and the Apple II, unleashing the power of the chip onto the world. The Berkeley grad is in the Inventors Hall of Fame. Gordon Wozniak shares Steve’s last name. The Berzerkeley City Councilman, is also brilliant. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Berkeley and was a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Research Lab from 1980 – 2002. Gordon went to Berkeley as a graduate student in 1966 and never left. He was there during the Free Speech Movement, People’s Park, and Vietnam. He’s lives and breathes Berkeley. Gordon Wozniak was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 2002. He could not have survived in Berkeley politics as a conservative. The white-bearded, white haired, professorial looking Gordon Wozniak is living proof that brilliant people can be incredibly stupid at times. He proposed last Tuesday an internet bit tax of one cent per gigabit and 1/100 of a cent per email. How stupid is the idea? The Berkeley Clog, the online blog of The Daily Californian headlined a blog: “Taxing email? We can’t make this stuff up.” G. Wozniak’s purpose is, believe it or not, to save the Post Office, especially the architecturally beautiful Berkeley Post Ofice, which is earmarked for sale by the Post Office. He wants to tax email to save snail mail as well as to discourage spam. Liberals believe the solution to government’s problems, such as a $16.5 billion postal deficit, is to raise taxes.Imagine a century ago if government taxed the Model T to save the horse and carriage. Berkeley is progressive - not regressive. Traditional mail is dying in the age of the internet. The Post Office has to adjust to reality. Gordon Wozniak cannot save the Post Office from itself, even if he goes back to snail mail for personal and official communications. Nor will the tax work. For example, the government would have no way of taxing spam originating from outside the borders of the United States unless it taxes either the internet provider or the recipient of the spam. For now an internet tax is illegal. President Clinton signed the Internet Tax Freedom Act in 1998. It imposes a moratorium on government, federal, state, or local, taxing the internet. It expires in November 14 unless Congress renews it. If it doesn't, the Democrats will lose much of their Silicon Valley financing.

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