Don’t call me

It’s that time of the year when politicians compete for the attention of voters. Signs are posted on street corners. Resumes are sent in the mail. Ads appear on the radio and, closer to the elections, on television.

I can cut politicians some slack. Anyone depending on public acceptance for their living needs to get their message out. It’s no different from a business. No matter how great the product or service, the producer won’t gain anything if people aren’t aware of it. The people won’t benefit if they remain ignorant of who is offering the best products and services.

However, in the world of marketing there are acceptable avenues along which advertising can be posted. There are others that irritate and annoy. I don’t mind someone posting their message on the radio, for instance. I understand when I turn on the radio that the service for which I don’t pay for exists because someone else funds it. I either tune out the advertising or I think critically as I listen. Ads in the newspaper can be ignored. But, if someone emails me, they have crossed the line. There has been a well-deserved rejection of spamming. We now have laws that hold spammers accountable.

Phone spamming is another highly irritating type of advertising. I have a telephone because I want to be able to speak with friends and relatives. I also want, when necessary, to be able to call a business for information that would otherwise necessitate a slower form of communication or a trip to the store. But, I don’t own a phone so that every joker with a product to sell can call me. I don’t own an email account because I want to receive emails from people selling viagra and get-rich-quick schemes.

Congress, a few years back, listened to the people when a public backlash against phone spamming developed. They created the national do-not-call registry allowing people to place their phone numbers on a list indicating to businesses that they don’t want to be interrupted with inane sales pitches. It’s a good law.

The lowest of the low among phone spammers are the businesses that employ machines to do the calling. I have wondered about the people who respond to pre-recorded, unsolicited messages. Why aren’t they as annoyed as I am when the person running a business isn’t even willing to employ person-to-person marketing? At least when I am called by a call-center employee I can appreciate that the business hawking their wares is willing use someone’s time to interrupt mine. But, when I receive a call from a machine I become angry that the people at that organization value their time so much, and mine so little, that they would employ a robot to interrupt my day. I either hang up, or, I wait for the invitation to leave my phone number, which I use to instead express my displeasure at their rudeness.

This week my wife has been telling me about a certain Mark Anderson running for congress that has employed a phone-bot. I haven’t researched this person, yet, for his positions on the issues nor his competence. That is because I don’t care if he is a good choice for public office. If he is willing to phone daily, for a week, to interrupt our time using his robot, his likelihood of earning my respect and subsequent vote diminishes proportionately.

Why is it illegal for a business to call me if my number is on the do-not-call list, created by congress, but not illegal for some hack wanting to be elected to congress? This is the sort of behavior indicating a double-standard. This is not the type of person I want representing my district! Mark Anderson needs to understand that he is swimming with the same sort of fishes that spam my mailbox with ads for viagra, penis-enlargement, pornography, and online gambling. The only other people recently phoning me via robot have been selling mortgages.

My wife mentioned to me every day this week that Anderson’s machine called. Today the phone rang and she went to pick it up. When she heard Anderson’s latest pitch she brought the phone to me and dropped it in my lap. I was busy reading a good book.

I took the time to listen to the message because I wanted to hear what type of things he was saying. It turns out that Anderson wasn’t speaking. Instead, he had some other office-holder vouching for what a great guy he is. He was said to be a “good conservative”.

What does it mean to be a “good conservative”? Conservatives generally advocate small government, something I can appreciate and respect. But, they also have a habit of violating that principle by employing the government to meddle in other people’s affairs. They try to pass laws that would, for instance, prevent gays from marrying. I tend to believe that government should limit itself to protecting the rights of the people. I have a hard time discerning whose rights are being infringed when gay couples marry. Conservatives recently have also been the biggest advocates for the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of our civil liberties. Is a good conservative the same as a good human being?

And, do good human beings use phone-bots to promote themselves?


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