... environmental attorney Dusty Horwitt, who recently published this outlandishly stupid and highly offensive editorial in the Washington Post calling for an information tax to reduce the supply of information in society. "[I]n our information-overloaded society," he argues, "the concept of [too much information] is no joke. The information avalanche coming from all sides -- the Internet, PDAs, hundreds of television channels -- is burying us in extraneous data that prevent important facts and knowledge from reaching a broad audience." His repressive solution?
It's possible that over time, an energy tax, by making some computers, Web sites, blogs and perhaps cable TV channels too costly to maintain, could reduce the supply of information. If Americans are finally giving up SUVs because of high oil prices, might we not eventually do the same with some information technologies that only seem to fragment our society, not unite it? A reduced supply of information technology might at least gradually cause us to gravitate toward community-centered media such as local newspapers instead of the hyper-individualistic outlets we have now.
Mike Masnick of TechDirt and Richard Kaplar of the Media Institute do a fine job of ripping Mr. Horwitt's absurd proposal to shreds. As Kaplar argues, it is "sheer lunacy" to "tax the technologies of freedom." Unlike gasoline, there are no good reasons -- not one -- for government to ever take steps to reduce the supply of information. Mr. Horwitt is calling for public officials to use their taxing powers to destroy or limit opportunities for human communications and the free exchange of speech and expression. It is completely antithetical to a free society.
Moreover, if Mr. Horwitt really thinks there is too much information in this world, then perhaps he should lead by example and take his own site offline first! The rest of us will take a world of information abundance over a world of information scarcity any day of the week.