Monday, May 02, 2011

A good use for robocalls ...

Mostly the capacity for a cost of pennies to send a recorded message to our telephones is merely an annoyance. Do I care who Bill Clinton wants me to vote for, to cite just one example of the luminaries I hear from before elections? Not much.

And there's solid research that automated calls neither persuade voters nor increase turnout in elections.

But just now I acted on a robocall: some elder citizen outfit (didn't catch the name) sent a recorded message about how the House-passed budget would gut Medicare and Social Security. Would I hit "O" on my phone, right then, to be connected to Senator Diane Feinstein's office to urge to her reject any such thing?

I would and I did. I also took the opportunity to remind the Senator that given yesterday's success in killing bin Laden, we could find lots of money by bringing the troops home. The receptionist was bored, but dutifully took my zip code.

This trick will wear itself out quickly, but for the moment, it should cause some volume of calls to Congress.

I assume that I was targeted because, as an older registered Democrat in a liberal area, I could be counted on to already know enough about the issue to be willing talk to the unfortunate who has to answer the phone. I wouldn't have been willing to call if the issue have been something I knew nothing about, say the continued need for a space program. But on a high profile issue where opinions are already pretty solid, this works.

Of course, I also had to be the sort of person who listens to a robocall long enough to find out what the caller wants now. That makes me a more and more rare bird ...

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