Lessons From Junk Mail

Three requests for money in yesterday’s mail. One from Paralyzed Veterans of America, one from Doctors Without Borders, and one from The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Two of the three persuaded me to give. Guess which one did not.

PVA sponsors research in spinal cord injury, rehabilitation projects, outreach programs. They sent me a sheet of return-address labels, and asked if I could send a contribution, to help paralyzed veterans rehabilitate themselves.

DWB provides emergency medical care to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. They sent me a project brochure (they sent me labels last year). They asked if I could contribute this year to help battle drug-resistant TB in the Republic of Georgia.

DCCC wants to “protect our new House Democrats being targeted by the Republicans, and to increase our Democratic House Majority in 2008.” They sent me a Democratic Presidential Strategy Survey (my own Registered copy). They too would like some money from me, noting that gifts at the thirty-five dollar level are urgently needed.

How did I choose among them?

PVA and DWB told me what they do, why they do it, and how they plan to use my money. Worthy causes. I’ll send them some money.

The DCCC asked for my opinions — a courteous gesture, to be sure — but did not tell me exactly how they plan to use my money. (They have a “goal,” but no clearly defined programs or services or facilities.)

As it happens, I think maintaining a Democratic majority in Congress is a good idea. But why couldn’t DCCC say, “Send us thirty-five bucks so that, with a strong majority in both houses, we can push for universal health care… or for better schools… or (heaven help us) for a sane pull-back from our Middle-East adventuring.”

No. They send me my very own Registered copy of the Democratic Presidential Strategy Survey, in which they ask my opinion on such intense and thought-provoking political questions as, “Should Congress investigate allegations of price gouging by Big Oil companies?” and “Should every American be guaranteed access to quality health care?”

Hmmm. You think?

Here’s the kicker. The DCCC tells me to “remember to validate your survey by signing and dating it where indicated and return it with a generous contribution in the postage paid envelope provided.” Sounds like thirty-five dollars is a basic fee to validate my respones to their survey.

A careful grammatical analysis of that line probably would show that I don’t have to to include a contribution to validate my survey. Yet a quick or casual reading certainly leaves that impression. And come to think of it, just what is so goddam urgent about thirty-five dollar gifts?

The Repubs never get around to asking me for money, except at the local level. But I sort of expect the tone of a National GOP hustle to be more along the lines of “Send us money so we can Win the War on Terror… or protect your investments… or build the Bush Memorial Chain-saw Repair Shop.” With the Dems, it always seems to be, “Send us money, and oh, by the way, what should we do if we get elected? We don’t have any ideas, or if we do, we don’t have the wit to articulate them or the balls to push them forward.”

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One thought on “Lessons From Junk Mail

  1. I was asked to be on a radio show out of Lakeland because the woman who would interview me is part of my Yoga class. I didn’t want to do anything that would upset Mark, he is upset enough. So I called him. Here’s what he said:

    “Funding the troops is a buzzword for funding thw war. Please do not fund my troop. Funding my troop is funding the war and war is what is killing the troops. Please do not fund my troop.”

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