It is the time of year when several unwanted, large phone books covered with refrigerator magnets start arriving on our door steps.
Some say the government needs to step in and stop the waste of the unwanted delivery of phone books. You may have heard the indignant refrain: “There oughtta be a law! We need to BAN the delivery of these unwanted and wasteful phone books!”
Surprisingly enough, however, no government action is required.
As the ad salesmen for the phone books continue to pitch their delivery numbers when they call on local business owners, the potential ad buyers will say:
“Yeah, you deliver a gazillion phone books, but none of these people you deliver to actually LOOK at the books. Most just throw them away the same day you deliver them. (The more environmentally-minded will, of course, recycle them). In any event, they ain’t being read. They ain’t bein’ looked at. I’m not going to spend my ad budget on your soon-to-be-extinct, useless paper phone books. I’m sorry, but I have an appointment with a Search Engine Optimization guy, followed by a Google Ads and Facebook advertising expert coming over now. Please excuse me.”
The paper phone book will soon be in the same category as the eight-track tape.
Until then, I’ll deal with throwing them away. I do not want the government banning them or mandating some “opt out” process overseen and administered by the Department of Unwanted Phone Books, with accompanying regulators and a schedule of fines and penalties for those that try to skirt the ban or regulatory scheme.
Picking them up off our front porch and throwing them away is annoying. It is inconvenient.
Surprisingly enough, Thomas Jefferson had something to say on the topic of unwanted phone books. He said, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
As usual, he was right.
Postscript: A Facebook commenter noted that she did not want people leaving litter on her property. Fair point. I responded thusly:
“Fair enough. Trespassing and littering laws already exist. It is up to you if it’s worth the hassle of enforcing the existing laws.”