Op-Ed: How to pay for it: Covid and after

Because of the covid crisis governments have incurred huge debts. How might they be repaid?

Some kind of tax must be imposed. Increasing existing taxes will be both unpopular and possibly damaging to the economy. How about a new tax? The place to begin to tax is activities which we want to discourage. Hence, existing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes which both raise money and deter an undesirable activity.

Social media has probably been a net cost to society during the current crisis. The internet is a huge benefits to scholars and other seekers after information. But, via social media, it has also amplified some of the worst tendencies in human nature and contributed to civil unrest. Social media are supported by advertising, information/scholarly sites, not so much.

So perhaps advertising is where should look to recover our debt?

A tax on internet advertising need not affect business adversely. Advertising is an arms race: the more you do, the more I must do in response. Almost any economic model will show that we have too much advertising. The advertising industry is “inefficient”.

So, perhaps some kind of tax on internet advertising would raise the necessary amount of money as well as reducing both advertising and, if properly designed, some of the malign properties of social media — and all without damaging economic growth.

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