There’s just too much information on the Internet these days, and it’s killing the poor old newspaper. That’s why we need a tax on information technology to reduce the flow of information, according to one proposal.
You heard right. The proposal, put forward by environmental analyst Dusty Horwitt in an op-ed in the Washington Post last week, calls for a “progressive energy tax.” It would “reduce the supply of information” by “making some computers, Web sites, blogs and perhaps cable TV channels too costly to maintain.”
And worst of all, he’s serious. Horwitt is an analyst at the Environmental Working Group, where he “focuses on public lands, energy and transportation,” and was a former deputy press secretary to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), according to the group’s energy-consuming, information-filled Web site. EWG, perhaps best known for its online farm subsidy database, got into some tax trouble a few years back when it was accused of doing illegal lobbying.
Indeed, an op-ed like this is exactly the sort of thing that EWG does. It specifically targets the news media in order to disseminate the group’s messages. In the past, EWG “has also declared war on nail polish, hairspray, playgrounds, portable classrooms and ABC News correspondent John Stossel,” columnist Michelle Malkin wrote in 2002. In 2008, EWG seems to be preparing to declare war on the Internet.
Bloggers are taking eyeballs away from the traditional news media, and this opinion piece would likely be published by any newspaper editor who received it, simply because it points out that fact and proposes a way, however insane, that the newspapers might get their audiences back. After all, there’s too much information, and if everybody can speak and publish, then traditional media outlets like newspapers can’t “educate millions of citizens” (Horwitt’s words) about whatever ideas they’re pushing this week.
“He then goes on to suggest that true social movements have only happened because of the scarcity of broadcast media options, which somehow forced everyone to hear only a single message,” writes Mike Masnick at Techdirt. “This is, apparently, a good thing — because obviously the big professional media only reports on the important stuff, whereas everyone else only reports on bad stuff.”
A proposal like this is music to the ears of most “progressives,” who would love nothing more than to shut down as many sources of speech and press as they can, at least the ones they disagree with. Under this proposal, you can be sure that any source of information they agree with will be subsidized, while sources they disagree with are taxed out of existence. This is the way progressives use the guns of government, after all.
“Who wouldn’t support a policy of higher energy costs to shut up the riff raff and make Americans have to pay more for just about everything?” asks Masnick.
Anyone who’s ever published anything of importance and realized the power of the Internet to place even the smallest publishers, like myself, on par with the largest, like the Washington Post, would be insane to give that up. This article, for instance, may only be read by a few thousand people in the next week (unless you digg it) but many of those few thousand are actual opinion leaders in Washington and elsewhere who can act on it. That sort of reach is within anyone’s grasp today, and that’s what this proposal means to stop you from doing.