Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Wonder if I am on a List

Blake would probably know, but he probably can't say.

I recently started using Google Reader. I guess I've talked about that before. One of the knock ons is that I am reading some things I used to look at only occasionally every single day. Sites like EFF, Think Progress, Consumerist, Open Congress, and yes even the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Previously I read quite a few papers as part of composing the green page. But that was just arts coverage. Now I am seeing quite a bit more about government and legislation.

Combine that with the relative ease of sending an email to various government officials and you come up with a rather squeaky wheel. In the last month I have written to my Senators, Congressman, State Representative, and the FCC just to round it out. I've talked about education, copyright, smoking, impeachment, a real range of causes. It leaves me to wonder two things.

First I have to wonder if anyone really reads the things. I get responses from the various offices. My Congressman sends me a letter through the USPS every time I send him an email. That can't be very cost effective. The FCC sent me a nice email saying that they are not permitted to intervene just because someone says something despicable on the radio because of the first amendment. Now, if they said "fuck" that would be a completely different story.

But really, with every desk bound whackjob like me emailing so often it must just all go right down the drain, yes? I can't imagine they would even task an intern to read all the email. The federal correspondence goes through a web form. Maybe they have some kind of bot that does the work for them.

Second, well, second I wonder how many letters you have to write before you get on some kind of whackjob index.

Whatever it is, I fear I may have exceeded it.


Ben said...

The one thing I've heard (from probably 2 unreliable sources) is that the way to make a change with your congressman is to HAND write them a well crafted letter.

The idea is that a phone call or e-mail is very easy to put together, a fax is generally a lobby campaign, and a typed letter is either a form letter, or around the same effort as an e-mail. But it actually takes a LOT of effort to hand write a letter.

If the people who screen the mail see a hand written letter, it (supposedly, see above caveat about sources) gets pulled aside and actually paid attention to.

I'm sure there's some scale of like 1 hand written letter = 20 well-crafted e-mails = 500 faxes, etc.

David said...

I think I remember seeing some Washington based fiction where they suggested that they actually DO that math - so if they get one letter they assume it reflects the opinion of 100 people or something.

I wonder if its true.

RandomGirl said...

Hmm... I hadn't thought about it. I wonder if there is something that I can do to further my "you shouldn't have to pay the company you work for to park on property the own" idea. Really, how RIDICULOUS is it that I start a month at a deficit of 8 hours of work.

I wrote my state rep about that...hmm...

David said...

clearly you never had to pay to park at CMU...

Peg said...

Keep at it, DB. Just keep writing. And if you've never been to Thieves', I recommend it.