What we don’t do about phone scammers

Are you a bit amazed that we still deal with phone harassment roughly the same as we did at the advent of caller ID, with no advancements? (We got caller ID in the 1990s, around the time cell phones were still big enough to use as bludgeons.)

If you think about it, our telephone providers in all forms could easily enable us to block calls from any number we wished. Yet they do not; it is treated as almost a constitutional right for any jackass, scammer, charity or freak to bother us at any hour, unless it rises above the considerable threshold for the law to pretend to care. And the only solution our precious government could devise was a new government program called the ‘do not call’ list, which doesn’t work well even on domestic harassers, and has zero impact on foreign harassers. Easiest thing in the world: a law requiring telephone providers to permit a phone number’s owner to block calls from chosen numbers. Wasn’t even up for consideration.

This is a good example of why whether something is legal or illegal is never a factor in my judgment of its morality. It always amazes me when someone confuses the two, as if law were moral. Morality is about behavior; the options we select. Law is about control, and nothing else. Conflate the two, and you let a bunch of people so stupid and/or evil they will not give you a way to block a phone number dictate right and wrong to you.


4 thoughts on “What we don’t do about phone scammers”

  1. Man, you hit home with your legal vs. moral argument. I’ve been preaching that for years and years and never fail to get annoyed when someone conflates the two. Hell, sometimes the two are even diametrically opposed.

    It doesn’t “surprise” me that we’re still dealing with the same garbage re: scammers & telecom trespassers, but it does disappoint me. The tech is obviously there to obliterate the problem, but, as is often the case, the will of the government is not in tune with the will of the governed. If laws on the book were actually enforced (no robocalls, no spoofing, must adhere to no call list, etc.) the problem would end.

    Even when not crossing the border into illegality, it is a parasite industry. The only way to stop them is hit them in the pocketbook. Government has no problem freezing bank accounts and seizing assets for tax violations or spurious civil forfeiture actions that enrich themselves. Theoretically, they s/b able to redirect those resources into something that would directly benefit everyone with a telephone.


    1. All well said, Ken. It’s a strong counter to the concept that the solution to all problems can be solved by government action. In many cases, like this one, government doesn’t plan to take any effective action and doesn’t understand why people don’t appreciate its ineffective action. I always have fun with people who argue, “Well, it’s the law.” And I rejoin: “Which means that it compels my obedience at gunpoint, and can probably get that. What it may not demand, and cannot compel, is for me to say it’s okay. Just because a bunch of criminals made a law, and hired enforcers to control me, has nothing to do with morality.”


    1. I tried a piercing whistle, Jason, and that did no good, so I moved on to the next step: do my share in attrition. If I am willing to donate a few minutes of time here and there, as a public service, I can make those unprofitable minutes for criminals. And if it were widespread, criminals would have less profitable minutes.


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