Everybody hates robocalls — 48 billion last year, nearly half of all calls and getting worse — and Do Not Call is laughably ineffective. Why then is making this a political issue so delayed? Is the telemarketing industry so powerful that they hold our politicians in thrall?

Internet providers have blocked spam for years, and phone companies claim they try to block telespam. They go slow, however, offering specious free-speech arguments. Some add free-market arguments: No one may restrain trade, and that includes the right to advertise. A few note that by owning a phone you are open to getting phone calls.

And do we on the receiving end have no rights? The right to finish a calm dinner uninterrupted? The right to enjoy a tranquil evening? Older people (I’m one) may need afternoon naps for their well-being and composure. Sleep disruptions may be a health hazard. In addition, many unsolicited calls are crooked, certainly those that ask for payment or your personal numbers.

Come on, politicians, do something against this evil wave! True, attempting to outlaw unsolicited calls may encounter overstretched constitutional arguments for free speech, but the Constitution also enjoins Congress to set rules for interstate commerce. Congressional paralysis is bad governance.

One measure would be effective, revenue-enhancing and cheap to implement: tax all phone calls. Robocallers can operate because their costs are low. Robocall outfits offer robocalls for one cent a minute per call or lower. Solution: Boost this cost. Even a small tax — say, 10 cents per call — would persuade most robocallers to cease. If not, make it 20 cents.

And you wouldn’t have to laboriously separate out robo and other unwanted callers from legitimate callers. Phone-company algorithms to automatically do that are flawed and evaded. No one would care about paying a dime to talk to a relative, friend or customer, but 10,000 robocalls would cost $1,000. Political robocalls, currently unrestricted, should also pay.

Part of the problem is that phone-service providers got too good and too competitive and now provide cheap nationwide service for low monthly rates. This started with the competition unleashed by the 1983 breakup of Ma Bell. Now several providers continually offer more for less. In the early 1970s, I had to go through an operator to call out-of-state. The cost restrained my usage. Now I get unlimited use but pay for it in intrusive calls.

Could Do Not Call be made effective? Doubtful. First, many “spoof” their way around tracking with fake area codes, trying to appear like your neighbor. Many originate overseas. Second, most claim they are not selling anything, just advising you of their valuable service. And giving you a Caribbean cruise! And third, by the time authorities reach them, they will have changed boiler rooms.

Do Not Call, which has near to no budget, should get one last chance. Pick a few egregious unwanted callers and subpoena their phone records. Cross-check which calls have been made to Do Not Call listees. Then fine them the requisite thousands of dollars per call, double for seniors. Do not expect this from the Trump administration.

Absent action by the Federal Communications Commission, take steps to protect yourself. First, get in the frame of mind that all callers are crooked. Maybe they aren’t, but how can you tell? Simplest is to hang up immediately. This does nothing to dissuade the company that wants to rescue me from (nonexistent) credit-card debt. They — or the outfits they have sold the list to — have called me dozens of times. Multiple scamsters call under the same name.

You might string them along to waste their time, a cost they cannot reduce to zero. They still have to pay the boiler-room guy. You might respond: “How can you help me get out of my debt? Oh, how exactly does that work?” If they ask for your name and address, tell them the one on their screen is correct. “Oh, it’s not on your screen? Then you must be a scammer.” As a wrap-up, enrage them by asking, “How much of your time have I wasted?” The faint hope is that they’ll delete you from their call list.

Cruelest are bogus Internal Revenue Service and Social Security calls, threatening arrest or cutoff of deposits unless you pay or give your numbers. Remember, the IRS and Social Security never phone; they send regular letters. You might act frightened and promise to pay. But they’ll have to pick it up in person. They won’t, but if they bite, have them arrested.

The ultimate solution is to render the telephone worthless for cold sales calls, a situation robocallers are themselves creating. Soon no one will believe any phone call. Good. The phone companies basically don’t care. They should. Nothing can stop spammers but raising their costs. Another plus: It will increase desperately needed post-office revenue.