Ring! Ring! Hello?

Lily Tomlin's Lifetime of Funny Characters
“Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?” The inimitable Lily Tomlin

I have a computer.

The first version of a digital computer by any stretch of the imagination was the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in 1937. The first personal computer, the Altair 8800 was available to geeks and other hobbyists in 1973, but required knowledge of computer and electronic technology. The first IBM PC—generally accepted as the first consumer-friendly (more-or-less) was unveiled in 1981.

My computer has a firewall, anti-malware, virus detection, virtual private network, spam filters, and other protective software that are readily available and affordable. This seems reasonable.

I have a telephone, a smartphone.

While many inventors were involved with the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell introduced the first- commercially viable telephone in 1876. That was almost a century before the Altair 8800 and just over a century before the IBM PC. For years, the telephone company controlled every aspect of consumer telephones, which led to such advancements as telephones with dials and eventually, telephones with push buttons (yawn).

Even with ~100 years head start, the telephone manufacturers and telephone companies have done little to help their consumers. I’m average so that 90 percent of the telephone calls I receive are spam. The spammers make so much money that when they are sued, the judgement is considered a (tiny) cost of doing business.

With my smartphone, I can surf the internet, send text messages, make international calls, and find the nearest Lithuanian-Italian restaurant. However, I can’t do anything about the 10 spam phone calls I receive each day because the spammers spoof the phone number they’re calling from.

Why don’t the telephone companies address this? My suspicion is that a) they aren’t willing to invest any money in solving the problem and; b) they just might make money off the spammers who maintain a thousand phone lines to call the rest of us.

Since it’s all driven by money, I suggest that Congress (if they ever decide to agree on anything) pass a law that the telephone companies have to pay their customers twenty-five cents for every spam call we receive. That will be the end of spam.

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