I can't disagree with Esther more than I do. Tacking on fees (and taxes in the case of municipalities) as a means of changing business or consumer behavior rarely works, always engenders anger and inconvenience, and drives up cost of living for everybody.
Sin taxes MAY help reduce smoking or drinking, but not by that much. Most of all they just have the effect of soaking drinkers and smokers above other tax payers. The oft-proposed gas taxes to reduce oil consumption would do the same thing--leave behavior largely unaffected, but force people to pay more.
Forget the cyberlibertarian, free-to-be-you-and-me bullshit, Goodmail just doesn't make any sense.
Let me get this straight: the sender pays to have its mail tagged as "not spam" and bulk mailers agree to send the mail along for the price of a piece of the action? How exactly is that a service to a spam-inundated receiver of e-mail? It seems to me the only people who would find that a "service" are organizations and companies doing electronic direct mail. It's almost like a protection racket for spammers. The check and balance in the system is that receivers can complain enough to get a sender blocked? How many people will do that vs. just trashing the offending e-mail? 4%? Hell, only 20% of consumers redeem rebates, something that's worth MONEY to them.
Furthermore, when was the last time in the history of the commercial Internet that metered messaging won the day? As a business model, metered messaging requires a bespoke pipe--text messages over wireless, land line telephone conversations, Blackberry over pager network, etc. If the Internet is the "pipe," then free, or MAYBE flat fee is the price for messaging (I pay a flat fee for Vonage which is, in essence, an Internet messaging business).
Would I, qua consumer, pay a premium for guaranteed spam-free e-mail? Maybe. But such a service would have to fulfill three requirements:
First, it would have to be extremely cheap for me to shell out dough over and above the fees I already pay for bandwidth. (Cable's '$50 a month for 1.5 Mpbs' pricing is already dead with fiber-to-the-home speeds of 5 Mbps minimum selling at $35).
Second, it would have to be bulletproof. NO spam can get through. (That's still the real problem--no solution is bulletproof short of humans reading every email.)
Finally, it must work without my active involvement, or at least with very minimal involvement. Spam blockers that require me to approve senders on a piecemeal basis are MORE of a nuisance than hitting the delete button on FREE VIAGRA!