Whacking Moles

David Potenziani
2 min readJan 10, 2024
Creative Commons License

“Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam,” are the immortal words by Monty Python in 1970. Of course, everyone now uses the word for Hormel spiced ham to denote all unwanted electronic communications — emails, texts, phone calls, etc. (I add the “etc.” because there will be more types in the future as we invent new communications technologies.)

We all live lives burdened with these missives. We set up filters to catch and sequester them so we can later drown them in the bathtub, laughing gleefully while holding the little message under the water. (Okay, that might not be exactly true, but it feels good just to write the fantasy out.)

So far today, I’ve received over 70 email spams despite my email client automatically blocking all such senders and messages. (That’s about average for the modern internet denizen.) Of course, I routinely block the senders. I do the same with my text messages. Oh, and don’t forget the hundreds of blocked callers on my phone.

More than half of all emails are spam, according to people who actually count them. That’s more than 122 billion messages each day! Here’s the breakdown of most by type:

36% are advertising
32% are “adult-related”
27% are financial

It takes about 12.5 million spam emails to receive 1 (one!) reply.

OK, I’m sure there are many people who are even more inundated than I am. But there is a solution that requires invoking Benjamin Franklin. He once noted that there were only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

Let’s combine taxes with death-to-spam to address this problem. Tax every email a percent of a cent. Yes, it’s a nuisance and will reduce the number of legitimate emails by a bit. But for those who spam the universe, it may offer a way towards social benefits — paying for universal health care, cancer research funding, or finally having time to stop hitting the email delete button and finish that damned novel I’ve been writing.



David Potenziani

Historian, informatician, novelist, and grandfather. Part-time curmugdeon.