Monday, March 26, 2007

Spam Costs You Money

Spam is more than an irritant. It costs you and me money.

I well remember the days when spam was just a sort of meat. It wasn't that great a sort of meat, but it was edible and quick.

Today, most of us think of the unsolicited commercial email (UCE) that increasingly floods our mailboxes. I certainly do. I estimate 95% of the email that enters my system is spam. Other reports suggest 70-90% of total email on the Internet is spam.

Spammers are robbing from us all. They rob us of time and they rob us of money.

Think of the time you waste deleting spam. Even if it is only one minute per day, after a year's time, the spammers have cost six hours of your life.

The money part isn't as obvious, but it is real. Internet Service Providers and others in the Internet industry are working to reduce the level of spam that comes to you. These businesses are employing technicians for the work, and paying them real money. That money comes from somewhere, and in this case, it comes from you and me. This work is paid by increasing ISP rates, or at least rates that do not fall with reduced costs.

We create web marketing solutions for clients. Naturally we want to minimize the spam that comes to them. Recently, I spent most of one work day dealing with a problem that resulted from spam.

There are some solutions to this, but they will require some fundamentally different ways of using email.

First, it would help a huge amount if we just...don't....look. If we purchase products or services from spammers, we're part of the problem. The reason these people continue churning out millions of emails is that people buy their stuff. It may be only one in a million, but it's enough to keep going.

Second, if everyone signed their email with a verifiable signature that would allow anyone to trace a message to its source, I believe spam would slow to a trickle and we would once again own our email boxes.

Until we demand effective steps be taken to stop them, we're going to continue paying small amounts of money to the thieves called spammers.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Marrieds With Children Proportion Shrinking in American Society

MSNBC News reported recently that "married couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four households -- a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is the lowest ever recorded by the census."

It's an American tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Not only are unmarried couples shunning the institution that will serve them best, most are dooming the children of their union to second-best status. A great weight of social science evidence is piling up that far from liberating Americans, cohabitation provides few of the benefits of marriage at a much higher social cost for both adults and their offspring.

Lest I sound like a pharisee, I'll point out that earlier in my life, I was in a not-so-different situation. Marriage is the best physical thing that ever happened to me.

Not only is this a tragedy, it is acting to widen the divides between social classes. MSNBC again: "As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock."

Children of married parents do better in school, socially, and economically later in life than the children of unmarried parents.

The sexual revolution has truly shot our society in the foot, and this is just one more part of the infection of that wound. We can do better than this -- we must do better than this if our civilization is to last and prevail against the competitors now gathering strength around us.

We can start by changing our laws and tax structures to make marriage more economically beneficial. In our churches and other social institutions we can work to lift up marriages and come alongside those who are struggling.

Somehow, we must change our culture back again to one that is friendly to life-long marriage. The life of unborn millions in this land depend on making right decisions now.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

ND Repeals Anti Cohabitation Statute: Progress?

North Dakota's legislature recently repealed a statute on the books since statehood that made it a crime for a man and woman to live together without marriage, Time Magazine reported recently.

At first glance, one is tempted to think that progress has been made. How could it be in 21st century America some state or locality could be so benighted as to have such an antique law still on the books.

But social science is demonstrating that our forefathers knew what they were doing in firmly placing such arrangements outside the fences of legitimate society.

Cohabitation hurts people. As I wrote earlier "counter intuitive as it might seem, social science has demonstrated that couples living together before marriage suffer a 50 -100% higher divorce rate when they do marry. And it’s not just higher divorce rates that hurt: as a group those who live together are statistically less equalitarian, more violent, less successful in remarriage after divorce, more depressed, and less caring of children than their married peers, to name a few.

The reality is that while living together may be popular, it most often diminishes rather than enhances quality of life. For the sake of future happiness for millions, this misbegotten approach to relationship belongs in the dustbin of history along with other failed social experiments."

It is in the interests of our civilization to legislate morality. We hear it all the time that "you can't legislate morality," but even the most casual inspections of our national and state laws show that we do it constantly. In this case, North Dakota is taking a step further into moral darkness that will damage its citizens, not free them.