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[P]
Penalize "opt-out" marketers: Donate your postage-paid envelopes as cash.

By gr3y in Op-Ed
Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 03:47:24 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

I'm tired of shredding credit card offers because of the risk of identity theft. The idea that I am somehow responsible for my "fair share" of the junk mail burden, i.e., disposing of someone else's garbage, is repellant and beneath contempt.


I'm tired of paying to review my credit report from three different agencies yearly to ensure that someone else hasn't received a credit card offer addressed to me and which I haven't requested, and used it to obtain credit fraudulently in my name.

I've opted out, but I still get junk mail. I'm also on the national do-not-call list. I use Mozilla's spam filtering to sort my email. I mute the television during the commercials. I had my landline disconnected because of the constant, incessant intrusion of telemarketers trying to sell me goods or services I don't want or need and never will. I keep my porch door locked when I'm at home to keep solicitors at bay.

You could say there's a pattern to my activity.

I have no prior business relationship with any of these companies, and have never indicated by any action of mine a desire to receive "exciting offers about products or services that may be of interest to me". I am an utter terminal for every "offer", "claim", "important document", and "sweepstakes" offer I have ever received. I never read them. I'm not interested. I couldn't care less. I don't want to receive them. Any company paying one dollar to send such an offer to me in the mail might just as well burn that dollar for all the good it does them.

I return postage-paid envelopes to the companies sending them to me, so the cost of harrassing me is passed on to their customers, eroding their profitability, in the vain hope that they'll learn the lesson and start marketing and advertising on an "opt-in" basis.

But none of this is working. These companies believe they have a right to my time and money and simply will not listen to me when I tell them I am not interested, in no uncertain terms. So I propose an alternative which, when codified as law, will decrease the amount of junk mail I receive:

  1. Require all postage-paid envelopes to carry a regular stamp. It can be for less value than a first-class stamp, as "bulk mail" or other non-first class mail, but it must have the same anti-counterfeiting measures as a regular, first-class postage stamp.
  2. Allow unused postage-paid envelopes to be redeemed as cash at face value by any citizen by donating them to a charitable organization in the United States.

That's it. I think the combination will quite nicely and very quickly effect a change in the way businesses in America market and advertise. They'll learn to market and advertise on an "opt-in" basis, only to those people who are interested. They'll learn that those people who have indicated they are not interested in receiving their offer are serious when they say "no".

Commercial speech is not protected free speech. They do not have a right to my time, even the time required to dispose of their offer as trash. Excessive marketing and advertising drives up the cost of goods and services in every sector of the economy, making businesses less competitive and draining profit that could be passed on to shareholders, re-invested, or used to buy down debt.

That is my proposal. Thank you.

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Poll
Would this help usher in an "opt-in" approach to marketing and advertising?
o Yes 32%
o No 45%
o Don't know 22%

Votes: 62
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o opted out
o national do-not-call list
o Mozilla's
o Commercial speech is not protected free speech
o Also by gr3y


Display: Sort:
Penalize "opt-out" marketers: Donate your postage-paid envelopes as cash. | 127 comments (89 topical, 38 editorial, 1 hidden)
Postage (2.90 / 22) (#5)
by b1t r0t on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 12:54:34 AM EST

They'll learn to market and advertise on an "opt-in" basis, only to those people who are interested.

No. They'll just learn to stop sending their crap with postage paid return envelopes.

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.

That's a good comment. (2.75 / 4) (#23)
by gr3y on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 06:16:10 PM EST

in which case, it might be necessary to modify the legislation somewhat. For example, institute some blocking of "bulk" or other non-first class mail on request, and require that all solicitations by first class class mail provide a postage-paid envelope with sufficient postage for the reply.

Frankly, I fail to understand the objection advertisers have to permission-based marketing. If I worked for a large advertising company I'd love to have a list of the addresses to which it would be an utter waste of my money to send my advertisement.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

Ignoring opt-out: an explanation (none / 1) (#79)
by Boing on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 04:55:06 PM EST

If I worked for a large advertising company I'd love to have a list of the addresses to which it would be an utter waste of my money to send my advertisement.

The problem is, nobody wants to receive the advertisements. Given the choice, people would opt out of every unsolicited advertisement, regardless of whether or not it was something they were interested in, just to be rid of them. Ignoring the opt-out requests profits from the difference between the set of which ads people want to see, and the set of which ads they are likely to be responsive to.

[ Parent ]

Not really (none / 2) (#81)
by ffrinch on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 07:11:21 PM EST

I'm not sure what kind of mail exactly you're talking about, but in Australia it's illegal to deliver advertising stuff to a mailbox with a "no junk mail" sticker on it.

Yet, hardly anybody actually uses the stickers. This article claims that 70% of the population actually likes advertising mail.

-◊-
"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick
[ Parent ]

Several reasons (none / 1) (#88)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 12:36:51 PM EST

There are several reasons advertisers still want to get through. One big example is gullible elderly folks. A lot of them are succeptible to high-pressure sales techniques, low level scams and the like. Their caretakers will add them to do-not-call or do-not-mail lists in a heartbeat, not because they are unlikely to buy, but because they are.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

All the more reason... (none / 1) (#104)
by gr3y on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 01:29:26 AM EST

to institute a ban on request.

When an individual preys on the elderly, that person is prosecuted, tried, and punished, if caught.

We know businesses are doing the same thing. So why reward them? Lately corporates have been justifying a lot of activity as "not illegal". Does that mean that a decision was made in the best interest of their shareholders, or employees? No.

I'm not interested in making advertising illegal, but I am interested in removing any profit motive in advertising to people who do not make a conscious decision to receive advertising, thereby encouraging businesses to change the way they perceive the people they are advertising to as people.

I understand you're not condoning it, but I don't understand why we, as a society, aren't asking the question: "what does this lead to?" Why do the rights of corporations and the profit motive supersede my rights?

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

Know what gets me? (2.83 / 18) (#6)
by Kasreyn on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 12:55:24 AM EST

I live in an apartment, and my mailbox is a small orthogonal space about 4"x4"x12". My mail carrier, to make the huge wad of junk mail catalogues I receive daily fit into my mailbox, folds them up. Now, I admit this makes sense, but he folds them up and secretes my REAL mail - the mail I get from persons and companies I really want to correspond with - amongst various folds and pages of the advertising.

So every night when I get home from work, tired and grumpy, I get to play a really fun game of "hunt through the advertising for my mail", which of course subjects me to the ads I'm trying so hard to avoid. This isn't just a minor nuisance - I have lost important bills and notices before and paid significant late fees on them due to it; the post office reported that the mail was delivered, so I must assume I threw it out still tucked into a wal-mart catalog.

Now I know I have a paranoid streak that's so healthy, several stakes through the heart and a barrel of napalm haven't stopped it yet. But this creeps me out. It's like I'm being required to jump through the hoop of spending valuable brainpower on ads, just to get the basic American privilege of receiving my own goddam mail.

Does anyone out there have any postal carrier experience, who can answer this question?: is it possible to request that my carrier no longer deliver certain mail to me? Specifically, anything without my own name on it? Or, anything from certain egregious offenders (Brighthouse Cable and Verizon DSL are two that come to mind)?


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
No (2.83 / 6) (#18)
by BadDoggie on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 03:31:12 PM EST

And the reason is that the Post Office gets paid to deliver this crap. It's why your stamps are still relatively cheap as opposed to those in the rest of the world. Your stamp prices would triple if the Post Office stopped carrying all the bulk mail. The stuff actually costs less than half of normal mail prices for a few technical reasons: pre-sorted, arranged in address delivery order, marked, paid in full, delivered to specific postal drop/pick-up points.

But you can stop a lot of it coming to you: see my poorly auto-formatted comment [#10] elsewhere in this story.

The CARRIER ROUTE SORT mail is harder to stop, since the companies pay to deliver to every address based on specific ZIP+4 locations, but few catalogs use this method because of the weight costs.

Once thing I forgot in my last comment was to also demand your phone and utility companies "cease and desist providing any personal information about you to any person, real or unreal, for any reason, without [your] written authorisation".

You could go to your local post office and ask them to block all bulk mail delivery, and be very nice when you do it. Some will mark your sorting cubbyhole and toss the crap. This is more likely to occur when the sorter is also the carrier. You must go to your local station to do this.

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

Working w/the PO to stop unwanted mail... (none / 1) (#85)
by astraea on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 02:53:37 AM EST

Consult your local postmaster on this, but as far as I know standard operating procedure is to write your name on a card and tape it inside the mailbox. The problem is this (and the "Deceased" tactic) won't stop the "Or Current Resident" stuff.
Luck,
Jay

[ Parent ]
Signal jamming (none / 0) (#119)
by skavookie on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 10:24:04 PM EST

Is this any different than, say knowingly interfering with someone's phone?  It's really just another form of signal jamming, the only difference being that the signal in question is a stream of paper instead of photons or electrons.

[ Parent ]
First off.... (2.00 / 15) (#7)
by blacksunrise on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 01:08:32 AM EST

Throw your T.V. off of the most dizzingly high point availiable. Then, (in a rapid succession of events), get MORE credit. Do not breed. Do not eat meat. Do not pay attention to sports. Read (until thyne eyes blur) the most notorious works available to man. Burn your motorized vehicle. Turn up your stereo VERY LOUD. Smile!

"He who angers you conquers you."~Elizabeth Kenny

Easy and effectife method for stopping junk mail (2.90 / 21) (#10)
by BadDoggie on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 06:05:21 AM EST

  1. Get a thick Sharpie
  2. On the front of every piece of maildraw a thin, diagonal line across the address from top right to bottom left.
  3. Either above or below your address, write:


RETURN TO SENDER
ADDRESSEE DECEASED

  1. Do this with all junk mail
  2. Be patient
Within three months you will see a serious decline in your junk mail. Within six it will be a trickle. The US Post Office will ignore this death notice since they go by address, not name. The companies will not ignore this notice because they have to pay for that return shipping; return-deceased mail is not just dumped at the post office. They will also remove you from the lists they sell to other companies because selling known bad addresses is fraud.

Another thing you need to do is contact all credit bureaus to inform them they may not distribute any information about you, to anyone, in any manner, for any reason, without your written authorisation. They'll send you back forms to fill out.

Do the same with for any credit card and bank account you have.

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."

Unfortunately, (3.00 / 7) (#21)
by gr3y on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 06:05:12 PM EST

I'd prefer a solution which doesn't involve declaring myself "dead". The solution I prefer involves shifting the onus from myself to the companies sending the junk mail to provide them with an economic incentive for ensuring that their advertisement is welcome.

Otherwise, your advice is sound. The problem is that those things impose an additional burden on me. I'm interested in a solution which minimizes my investment (time and money) in personal privacy.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

I already explained this (3.00 / 5) (#25)
by BadDoggie on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 06:44:05 PM EST

You're not declaring yourself dead to anyone other than the marketers. Being dead to them is better than not existing since they will actively avoid sending mail to dead people.

If you ever come up with a solution such as you prefer, you'll be rich, because it should work against spammers, considering that junk mailers actually pay and still find it profitable.

You live where you have no rights to privacy and your personal information. However, only a small amount of effort is required for huge effect.

I've told you how to do it. It's not difficult and doesn't require even an hour of your time a month.

You choice.

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

Your opinion. (2.85 / 7) (#29)
by gr3y on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 07:25:13 PM EST

As I said before, I've already been through it. I've opted out. I'll probably spend the postage and send those letters again, and I'll have to repeat my "request" again in two years, three years, five years, whenever I change addresses or telephone numbers, apply for a loan, undergo a change in marital status, or some website decides it doesn't have enough addresses to sell to its advertisers and changes its privacy policy. I'd prefer a more permanent solution.

I was also attempting to skirt an issue of ethics. Personally, I think that doing what you propose is wrong because it's a total lie. That's not to say that I never lie, or that I don't have a different perspective on some things which affects how I respond when someone asks me a specific question. I've been known to lie by ommission, but very rarely do I deliberately misrepresent the facts.

I'm also interested in a solution that requires the company sending the mail to see me as a citizen, not a consumer - as a citizen of the United States I have an implicit right to privacy.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

It's a question of ethics (2.75 / 4) (#64)
by BadDoggie on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 07:12:36 AM EST

If you ask the mailers to stop, they don't. If you demand they stop, they don't. In fact, any response from you is proof the address is good and it gets marked as such and will be sold, possibly at a premium since you took the time to write a response.

The only method which will stop it is one which tells them they have a bad address, because if it's bad, they are legally unable to sell the address. You break the chain.

Since you have no legally granted right to privacy, you only have two options:

  1. The post office returns the mail with "Addressee unknown" or "Bad Address".
  2. The recipient returns the mail with "Addressee deceased".
That's it. Those are the only two possibilities, and the first one won't work since your address is correct. That leaves number two.

Is it immoral to lie to a company whose only concern is the value of your known-good address? There's the sticky point. You don't want to lie, and I respect that. But since the companies themselves show no morals when it comes to your needs and wishes, you reach the same philosophical point which allowed Hegel and Voltaire to become so famous.

As to having to renew the opt-out demands, you don't use opt-out with the credit bureaus. You use a security demand: "You may not provide any information about me, for any reason, to any person, real or unreal, without my express written permission." That's an all-inclusive statement which stops others checking your credit record without authorisation and stops them from selling your address.

As far as banking and other such transactions, you add the same statement as a rider. This includes ordering checks, since the biggest check printers are also the biggest info collectors.

Moral dilemma, maybe, but your options are limited by the lack of morals in others, and there are no prizes for "honour". Being "better" than they are will only increase the amount of junk in your mailbox.

woof.

"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

Indeed, (none / 1) (#103)
by gr3y on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 12:59:02 AM EST

it's a question of ethics. Mine don't permit the only possible solution you propose.

And I believe that's the point. I believe that business intentionally targets that edge. In this case, they are legally allowed to send me as much junk mail as they can afford. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no interest in receiving it. Because they are not prohibited from sending it to me, and because some small percentage of unsolicited advertisement results in a sale, it is more profitable for them to send it to everyone, including the people who clearly don't want to receive it. The very worst thing that can happen is that people who already hate to receive junk mail and so throw it away, throw it away.

In other words, sending junk mail to people who don't want to receive it isn't the right thing to do, but it's not illegal. Is it wrong? No - I reserve the word "wrong" for special uses which require a decision as to whether an action is moral or not. Wasting money isn't wrong for a corporation because a corporation is an amoral organization of individuals, and the outcome is uncertain - some percentage of junk mail results in a sale. But which percentage?

It's a little like voting for the lesser of two evils. I'm tired of doing that. I want to vote for someone that I think is the best candidate for the job for a change. I want to have a real choice, instead of choosing the candidate I think will screw up the least, I want to choose the one I think is taking us in the right direction.

Likewise, I want to do business with a company that realizes that citizens are not "consumers", but employees, voters, mothers, fathers, homeowners, etc. who have a right not to be bothered in their homes if they so indicate.

I have an implicit right to privacy, and I want these companies to recognize it.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

How about this idea? (none / 1) (#48)
by Kasreyn on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 12:18:29 AM EST

There is an outgoing mail slot next to the inboxes at the mail kiosk. How about I just dump them right back in? For the route sort ones, it doesn't even have my apartment number on it, so unless they fingerprinted it, how would they know who was tossing their junk mail in the outgoing?


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
It makes me wonder... (none / 1) (#105)
by gr3y on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 01:38:36 AM EST

what would happen.

Would you want a credit card offer in your name being sent back to who knows where, or disposed of in the city landfill?

I know I wouldn't. The very prospect terrifies me.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

Beware 'helpful' postal workers (2.87 / 8) (#35)
by big fat idiot on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 10:33:29 PM EST

A lazy helpful postal worker might stop delivering other mail if he or she notices the addressee deceased notice.

[ Parent ]
Odds against it... (none / 2) (#37)
by bjlhct on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 10:54:21 PM EST

But hey, you could try talking to them if you wanted.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Odds against it? (none / 2) (#39)
by big fat idiot on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 11:00:50 PM EST

Do you have much interaction with your local USPS branch? I've seen almost exactly this type of thing happen before. While the branches might relay on computers to sort everything by address, a good deal of carriers deliver mail based on name and not address. Once these good folks get it into their head that a given name doesn't live at a given address, it can take a good deal of talking to get the problem sorted out.

Trust me, I've been there. I've had my automobile insurance coverage canceled before because of the post office screwing up a very similar type of situation with the result of me never receiving my invoice for renewal.

[ Parent ]

I went out of town for a couple weeks once... (none / 1) (#80)
by dickles on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 06:48:45 PM EST

The mail carrier disposed of all my mail.  She said she thought I'd moved.


[ Parent ]
i really hope you reported this (none / 1) (#94)
by joschi on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 03:19:47 PM EST

because thats a federal offense as far as i can remember.

[ Parent ]
Don't mail it from home (none / 3) (#78)
by MicroBerto on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 04:53:18 PM EST

put it in a public blue mailbox thing on the street

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
I do a similar thing (none / 3) (#65)
by bowdie on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 08:41:02 AM EST

except I just write stuff like "Return to sender - unwanted mailing"
And bung it back into the postbox.
Seems to have worked so far.

[ Parent ]
At the very least... (2.66 / 6) (#15)
by skyknight on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 09:44:25 AM EST

junk-mailers ought not to be allowed to address mail as "current resident". My mailbox is constantly clogged with stuff addressed as such... grocery store coupons, deals from the local pizza franchises, clothing catalogs. Bleh.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
I think the postoffice likes those though (none / 2) (#27)
by jongleur on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 06:48:58 PM EST

so it would take some real, official action.  And if congress can't summon the will to stop freakin' spammers, it won't for the more established junk mail of that sort either.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
Hm.. Create a company (none / 3) (#72)
by Mysidia on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 11:50:00 AM EST

1. Make a company Called "Current Resident, Inc."

2. Trademark the name and such... insist all mail To that name be sent to your address.

3. Get all the marketers for Trademark Infringement..

4. And have a nice big bonfire afterwards... Invite all the execs from the marketing companies to watch their mass-marketing materials go up in flames

5. Profit

6. ???

7. Thwap the poster of this comment because he didn't use the <ol> and <li> elements for his list



-Mysidia the insane @k5
[ Parent ]
Just do what I do (2.55 / 9) (#16)
by godix on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 11:26:08 AM EST

Toss all your junkmail in the car and next time you're near a mailbox drop it off. They won't deliver it again since it's already been delivered once and they never harass you about it. I have no idea what happens to it, probably the same thing that happens to the millions of other undeliverable junk mails.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
Start your own business following your guidelines (2.90 / 10) (#19)
by rujith on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 03:39:27 PM EST

Excessive marketing and advertising drives up the cost of goods and services in every sector of the economy, making businesses less competitive and draining profit that could be passed on to shareholders, re-invested, or used to buy down debt.

So you're saying that all these businesses are losing their competitive edge by wasting money on "excessive marketing and advertising"? That might very well be true, but if you really believe it, you should start your own business that doesn't waste money on such activities. You'd then be able to sell goods at a lower price, capture the market, drive your wasteful competitors out of business, and reap the profits.

- Rujith.

An interesting comment, but (2.75 / 4) (#28)
by gr3y on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 07:07:59 PM EST

not realistic. The companies I receive the most advertisement from by mail, and the ones which represent a direct threat to my privacy, are multi-billion dollar credit card and insurance companies (and charities, about which I have already posted), and the industry they spawned (i.e., credit-reporting). Those are not easy industries to break into.

Your point is a valid one, but the markets I could compete in are strictly local and any competitive advantage is diluted for that reason. I don't receive mail solicitations from the 7-11 up the road, or the flower shop around the corner. They're not wasting their time, or mine, because it's not cost effective. They're advertising in the local paper, or the Peninsula phone directory. I'm interested in what local businesses have to offer me because those are the ones from which I buy most of my goods or services.

But there's an additional piece of information to take into consideration when reading this. I have also determined the method by which that advertising will be delivered to my door: with the paper (or phone book), and all at once. Any advertising is targeted at subscribers, not me. I don't receive a separate piece of mail addressed to me from each company that advertises or includes a circular in the paper every week; each of those companies isn't receiving from the newspaper and separately managing a list with my name, address, and "price point" on it. Their advertising is not "targeted".

I have no objection to it. It's requested and not a threat to my privacy.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

Dude (2.25 / 4) (#62)
by melia on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 06:32:11 AM EST

Yeah, but you get his point though huh. If it didn't provide results overall, they wouldn't do it.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
Yes, but.... (none / 0) (#112)
by signifying nothing on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 03:50:51 AM EST

While it apparently makes individual sense for each individual company to do this kind of advertising, there is good reason to believe that we as a whole would be better off if no-one did.

Many people, myself included, believe that the state has a valuable role to perform in the case of market failures like this, enacting rules to improve overall welfare by restraining the activities of market participants.



[ Parent ]
Don't underestimate stupidity [nt] (none / 0) (#118)
by skavookie on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 10:09:47 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Not quite (none / 1) (#89)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 12:50:54 PM EST

The argument goes as follows: most of the advertising out there is a zero-sum game. Coke tries to out-advertise Pepsi, which in turn tries to out-advertise Coke. Whoever dumps the most money into their advertising budget is likely to see gains in their market share, at the expense of their competitor. For any given company, then, there is a powerful incentive to advertise. From the point of view of the economy as a whole, the entire business is a waste of time, money, and resources.

It's an arms race. No one company can just opt out and not get squashed. However, if someone can find a way to change the dynamics of the system, to make the arms race less fierce, everyone will benefit.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Advertising.... (none / 0) (#126)
by ckaminski on Mon Mar 08, 2004 at 09:55:37 AM EST

BASF used to have these commercials, "we don't make the things you use everyday, we make the things you use everyday BETTER".  Stupid, really, since all it was was a stock-pump in the heyday of the dotcom-war.  It was advertising, that probably, ultimately hurt them (stockwise) than helped.

I won't even get into those damn butterfly commercials for MSN. <shudder>  What kind of childhood does it take for a grown man to pimp himself out and dress up in a blue butterfly costume... oh the humanity.


[ Parent ]

Disagree (1.41 / 12) (#22)
by duncan bayne on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 06:10:54 PM EST

> Commercial speech is not protected free speech.

I disagree totally.  

Speech of any kind should be covered by the first ammendment.  The same standards apply to any speech - it can't be fraudulent, or defamatory.  Other than that, people should be free to say whatever they want.

I think you're confusing "freedom of speech" with "freedom to keep sending you mail when you've told them not to".  

Commercial entities should have complete freedom of speech, but just like non-commercial entities, if you ask them to stop sending you mail or telephoning you, they should comply.


Disagree all you want ... (none / 3) (#44)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 11:53:59 PM EST

... It's still a fact.

[ Parent ]
you can disagree, but legally you are wrong. =nt= (none / 1) (#49)
by Suppafly on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 12:19:14 AM EST


---
Playstation Sucks.
[ Parent ]
Ya the big heist of the 14th Amendment (none / 3) (#52)
by jongleur on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 01:28:31 AM EST

When some Supreme Court Justice, saying verbally that he thought corporations were entitled to the same rights as people even though he hadn't written that in his opinion, well, the S.C. clerk wrote that in the summary of a judgement and that case has been considered to have decided for corporate personhood ever since.  Sorry this is vague; the book is by Thom Hartmann, 'Unequal Protection'.  I believe it was he himself who discovered the mistake, recently.  But anyway, it's binding precedent now.  And, it would have happened sooner or later anyway; corporations were just pounding on the courts to get that protection, and like I said, the one Justice was sympathetic anyway, others would have been too, sooner or later.  But, the 14th amendment was for freed slaves, not corporations (reading that document I don't see how it could possibly be interpreted to mean corporations).  But, it limits the power of govt to regulate business, which after all, is just a bunch of people working together to make money.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
read again (none / 1) (#121)
by Ubiq on Tue Mar 02, 2004 at 04:49:53 PM EST

It's not protected free speech. Regardless of the fact that you think it should be.

[ Parent ]
Mail Your BRM. (2.92 / 14) (#40)
by cribcage on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 11:01:03 PM EST

I wrote a brief column about Business Reply Mail last year. I addressed several myths, including the belief that you can use a BRM card to mail a brick (false), and the belief that companies are not charged for blank cards and empty envelopes (also false).

The bottom line is that Cook's Magazine, for example, includes no less than 14 BRM cards with every issue. They can afford this because, beyond the initial license fee, they are charged only for those cards actually mailed. They anticipate a low return rate, therefore they can afford to literally plaster magazine racks with the damned cards.

The solution, if you want to fight it: Mail them all. You'll contribute to the Post Office, thereby helping to maintain low postage rates. You'll teach the companies a lesson, and they'll eventually stop this ridiculous practice. And most importantly, it's kinda fun, dumping a pile of cards into a mailbox.

Everyone should have a hobby. ;-)

crib

Please don't read my journal.

how is a magazine subscription card the same? (none / 1) (#93)
by joschi on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 03:16:20 PM EST

how is a magazine subscription card the same as junk mail? i mean... if you subscribe to cooks (great magazine) then why would you try to kill their profitabiliy, its not like they are harrassing with those things... i just dont see it as the same as unrequested junk mail (which i always send back the prepaid envelopes from junk mail i get stuffed with as many pages of safeway coupon inserts as i can)

[ Parent ]
No one said "the same." (none / 2) (#98)
by cribcage on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 04:30:48 PM EST

how is a magazine subscription card the same as junk mail?
They're not the same. They're similar.
if you subscribe to cooks (great magazine) then why would you try to kill their profitabiliy
I've never understood this mentality. Just because Cook's is a good magazine doesn't mean everything they do is wonderful. There are plenty of great magazines. None of them should be littering magazine racks and living rooms with subscription cards the way they do.

Magazines use those cards exactly as AOL uses CDs. They figure, for every 1,000 cards sent out, maybe a dozen will be returned. So they print millions of the damned things, and stick 12 in every issue.

It's a tremendous waste of paper. It's environmentally irresponsible. And besides that, why the hell would you send 14 cards to someone who has already paid for a subscription?!

Your question is very narrow-minded. Yes, I can simultaneously support Cook's wonderful content, and object to their foolish practices regarding subscription cards. It works the other way, too: Just because you hate Microsoft doesn't mean everything they do is evil, you know.

crib

Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

Magazine Cards (none / 0) (#117)
by skavookie on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 10:05:27 PM EST

They make handy bookmarks :)

[ Parent ]
Deliver Blanks? (none / 1) (#110)
by Katt on Sun Feb 29, 2004 at 04:21:01 AM EST

Does the Post Office deliver blank ones? I'm sure they're supposed to, but...

If I saw a big pile of blank BRM cards in the mailbox, with nothing filled out to indicate where the business should send the reply, there's no point in delivering them and I might be tempted to toss 'em in the trash.

I'm sure that's illegal though.

[ Parent ]

Since you mention it... (none / 0) (#113)
by cribcage on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 03:03:20 PM EST

If I saw a big pile of blank BRM cards in the mailbox, with nothing filled out to indicate where the business should send the reply, there's no point in delivering them and I might be tempted to toss 'em in the trash.
Actually, that's exactly what my local post office was doing. They asked me one day if I had been putting blank cards in the mailbox. (It's a small town.) They said they had been throwing them out, because the companies didn't have to pay for blank cards.

I pointed out the following passage from USPS S922 [pdf]:

1.2 The permit holder guarantees payment of the applicable First-Class Mail or Priority Mail postage, plus a per piece fee, on all returned BRM. This includes any incomplete, blank, or empty BRM cards and envelopes and any mailable matter with a BRM label affixed.
My local postal employees are terrific. They've won all sorts of national awards for customer service. They weren't trying to be malicious or anything, and they don't trash the cards now that they know better...but still, you're probably right. A lot of postal employees probably do just toss the cards in the garbage, because they don't know better.

Aside from being illegal, it's stupid. The income from those cards pays their salaries, and keeps low the price of stamps.

crib

Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

Idea (none / 0) (#116)
by skavookie on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 10:04:04 PM EST

Why send them blank?  Why not use made-up information?  Then they have to actually try to process that information and perhaps end up sending out mailings to a nonexistant address.  They do have to pay postage on what they send out, don't they?

[ Parent ]
Don't Lie. (none / 0) (#122)
by cribcage on Wed Mar 03, 2004 at 02:10:38 AM EST

Why not use made-up information?
Two reasons: Because it's a lot more work (if you're mailing tons of these cards, which I do), and because it can be considered mail fraud.

The idea is to penalize these companies by working within the system. Don't lie, don't cheat, and don't steal. Simply use the terms of their BRM license against them, and eventually they'll realize that it's no longer cost effective to plaster the world with litter.

crib

Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

Stamp out postage! (1.25 / 3) (#43)
by syadasti on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 11:25:36 PM EST

Abolish the postal service.

"May your chains rest lightly upon you..." --Samuel Adams
Grow up, Mr. Rourke. (1.37 / 37) (#56)
by ninja rmg on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 02:01:37 AM EST

Too often I see those words invoked -- "I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my time." Such immaturity. For all her romance, in her works Ms. Rand never once rises above the level of a spoiled teenager.

Did you ever think about what makes your money worth anything? No, I don't suppose you have. Well, think then: What do you produce? What do you provide? Like most middle class people, you probably own nothing of value and provide nothing to your fellow country men for their consumption, for their purchase. But the companies -- those evil bastards! -- they provide everything you need.

Think of all the things you need -- food, drink, transportation, reading material to keep you in touch with the world, Britney Spears' sweet teenage ass -- Who gives you these things? That's right, some "evil" corporation just trying to make a buck. Oh but you'll show them alright! Send them some nails! Waste their hard earned time and money! Real mature.

Look kids, it's time to grow up. Here's some shit for you losers to chew on:

  • The real world isn't anything like Slashdot. You're not going to get anywhere trying to "stick it to the man" at every corner and you don't get by giving things away for free.
  • Companies are entitled to a profit. They, unlike you, provide vital services to the community. If you want a society without them, check out Tsarist Russia at the local library. You'll be singing a different tune then!
  • You're costing people their jobs. Yeah, that's right. Guess what happens when you screw people out of their money? Layoffs! Corporations have mouths to feed too, and you're making them go hungry.


But go ahead. Send them nails and anthrax and whatever you can get your hands on. You're just an unemployed loser living in his parents' basement you have the time and the will to be a destructive asshole. Just don't go telling me how noble you are for "fighting the power." You're just driving up my long distance rates and fucking up my economy because of your stupid vendetta.



Hi rmg. (3.00 / 3) (#58)
by regeya on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 02:37:02 AM EST

I see that you're as warm, charming, and insightful as ever.

Burned any good books lately?

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Bravo! (none / 1) (#60)
by schlouse on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 05:07:53 AM EST

I see your skills have evolved. Welcome back Mr. Bond.

Mark S.

[ Parent ]

Bravo. We need more of this (none / 1) (#66)
by it certainly is on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 08:55:11 AM EST

on Slashdot, although as one of its denizens has escaped and written this K5 article, you may as well post it here.

Far better than the copy-n-paste goatse ASCIIs and slash that passes for "trolling" these days.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

The worst thing (none / 3) (#74)
by ninja rmg on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 12:35:12 PM EST

Is that those same goatse.cx posting Slashdot lamers mod me down for my trouble. It's disgraceful.



[ Parent ]
Neocon drivel (2.60 / 5) (#86)
by o reor on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 04:34:47 AM EST

Waste their hard earned time and money!

But of course. My own time and my money from a 60 hours/week job are not hard-earned at all, whereas Joe Schmoe's company is, because they are a -- gasp ! -- a company. And it's their God-given right to harass me at home.

Companies are entitled to a profit.

As long as their business model abides by the law. As long as the generated nuisances do not overcome the generated benefits for the community. Otherwise I might as well create a start-up company to produce refined crack & cocaine. Sure, I would make a lot of money and invest it in other sectors (housing, cars) and therefore help other people make a living. . Would I be "entitled to a profit" ? If the corporations are "entitled to a profit", does that mean tha I as a consumer am "entitled to" being fucked over by them ? I dont' think so.

They, unlike you, provide vital services to the community.

Dear Fucktard, who are you to decide who brings vital services to the community ? How do you know this guy is not a doctor or a fireman/woman ? What makes his job less valuable to the community than whatever is produced by MacDonald, FoxTV or Union Carbide ?

You're costing people their jobs.

Oh, dear. Do the corporations really need to be in a bad financial health to start laying off their workers and offsdhoring to India or China ? Most of those industries are financially healthy, have hefty sales, no greasy-haired liberal wimp boycotting their products, yet they are offshoring. Care to explain ?

[ Parent ]

Excellent. (none / 2) (#87)
by ninja rmg on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 05:02:19 AM EST

I just need three more like you and I'll be out of this 3-5 rut!



[ Parent ]
I thought most liberals were pro-Free Trade... (none / 0) (#124)
by RadiantMatrix on Thu Mar 04, 2004 at 01:55:37 PM EST

Companies are entitled to a profit.

As long as their business model abides by the law. As long as the generated nuisances do not overcome the generated benefits for the community.


You see, the concept of Free Trade, while it requires some regulation, suggests that consumers will stop buying from companies that annoy them.  If Direct Mail marketing techniques bother you, you are completely within your rights to stop buying from them.  Vote with your wallet.

However, given the profitability of direct-mail advertising, it would seem that a large portion of the population likes junk mail.  So tell me, why do you have the right to end junk mailings to those people?

Companies that make profits are usually entitled to them because -- now, listen carefully -- consumers choose to buy their products.  We aren't talking about Microsoft-like monopolies where consumers have little choice, here.

----------
I don't like spam - Parent ]

You know (none / 1) (#107)
by CaptainZapp on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 02:13:53 PM EST

Companies are entitled to a profit.

That's about the biggest bunch of bullshit splattered around.

Or would you care to explain why exactly a company (or an individual for that matter) is entitled to a profit?

[ Parent ]

You are a fool. (none / 0) (#127)
by ckaminski on Mon Mar 08, 2004 at 10:02:07 AM EST

Before all the megacorps run into down and destroyed the small business, I did provide for my fellow citizens.  Welcome to the land of product ubiquity.  Where the massmarketed shit is just that, and the high-quality, enduring works created by a labor of love are bickered down to the level of massmarketed shit.

:-/

[ Parent ]

Just wondering (none / 3) (#63)
by melia on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 06:38:35 AM EST

Excessive marketing and advertising drives up the cost of goods and services in every sector of the economy, making businesses less competitive and draining profit that could be passed on to shareholders, re-invested, or used to buy down debt.

Why do you call mailshots excessive marketing? Do you know something that all these companies don't? I'm sure they've done cost-benefit analysis on this sort of marketing, and i'm sure you haven't.


Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong

This is a terrible idea. (none / 1) (#67)
by pauldamer on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 09:47:22 AM EST

It would not change the amount of junk mail you recieve at all.

Marketing companies would just have to choose whether or not they should continue to send their offers with postage paid envelopes. If not, then people who wanted to respond to an offer would have to buy a stamp. If yes, then you would have the added problem of bums going through everyone's mailboxes looking for return envelopes.

now that's a solution! (none / 3) (#70)
by dimaq on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 10:30:06 AM EST

quite like that extra you pay for canned and bottled fizzies, that you get back when you return those containers - it sure creates a phenomenon of bums going around parks looking for them refundable bottles, but it also provides the city with 'free' street cleaners.

same way if someone would neatly rummage through your mail and take all the spam for you - I'm all for it!

hey I might even want to do it myself provided I can earn more than I do now *g*

[ Parent ]

+1FP, but aren't you sending the wrong message? (none / 3) (#69)
by LilDebbie on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 10:12:49 AM EST

Last time I checked, when you actually use the return envelope, your address gets flagged as an "interested" customer, even if you're only sending them pornographic pictures of your goldfish. Maybe this is why you get so much junk.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Haha (none / 1) (#102)
by Perianwyr on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 08:58:34 PM EST

I wonder how interested they'll think I am when I send them a postage paid envelope completely filled with the (depersonalized) remains of credit card offers from other companies, shredded into spaghetti?

[ Parent ]
Only if they know it's from you (none / 1) (#108)
by dennis on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 08:26:06 PM EST

Send it without any personal info inside, all they know is they're paying postage. If there's any suspicious coding on the envelope, use a felt-tip pen. Don't know if the post office would mark what box it came from, I don't think so, but you could always use a public box.

[ Parent ]
-1: Tired of your UScentric problems -n/t (none / 3) (#71)
by Azmeen on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 10:38:33 AM EST




HTNet | Blings.info
Didn't you get the memo? (none / 1) (#84)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 01:16:12 AM EST

Malaysia has a (quasi?) FTA with Singapore.

Singapore has a full-blown FTA with the US.

QED... well, if we're trying to replicate their economic systems, we should at least try and take a look at their downsides.

(Which of course is not to say that free trade automatically leads to more spam.)

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

First Amendment Nit (none / 2) (#82)
by cpt kangarooski on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 08:14:03 PM EST

Commercial speech is not protected free speech. They do not have a right to my time, even the time required to dispose of their offer as trash. Excessive marketing and advertising drives up the cost of goods and services in every sector of the economy, making businesses less competitive and draining profit that could be passed on to shareholders, re-invested, or used to buy down debt.

I'm afraid you're wrong on that one.

We can get into a fairly drawn out discussion on this, but you made a blanket statement when you shouldn't've.

To wit: "The First Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, protects commercial speech from unwarranted governmental regulation."  Central Hudson Gas & Elec. v. Public Serv. Comm'n, 447 U.S. 557, 561 (1980).

Clarify this somewhat, and perhaps you'll be on to something.

Oh, and as for the horrible cross to bear of having to chuck this stuff in the trash, that's probably a no-win either. In the context of some other junk mail, the Court said in Bolger v. Youngs Drug Products Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 72 (1983) that

[t]he First Amendment "does not permit the government to prohibit speech as intrusive unless the `captive' audience cannot avoid objectionable speech." Recipients of objectionable mailings, however, may "'effectively avoid further bombardment of their sensibilities simply by averting their eyes.'" Consequently, the "short, though regular, journey from mail box to trash can . . . is an acceptable burden, at least so far as the Constitution is concerned."


--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
Incurred Costs (none / 1) (#92)
by ZahrGnosis on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 03:09:25 PM EST

What we need is someone to evaluate the costs to the consumer of ditching junk mail.  It probably accounts for around 5% of my overall street-side garbage pickup.  Faxes and Cell Phone calls are illegal because they increase the cost to the recipient in a tangible way (wasting paper, using pay-by-the-minute airwaves...).  TV ads, as counterpoint, simply waste your time -- you don't have to pay extra for the service of having commercials delivered.

That Junk mail also wastes personal time, you're correct, the courts don't seem to mind... thus the "mailbox to trash can" carry costs aren't onerous to the recipient.  However, Junk mail almost certailny does increase the cost of garbage pickup, but I don't know if anyone's assaulted direct marketing firms on those grounds before.  It's also likely to have a direct affect on postage prices, although I'm not sure if the net effect would be an increase or a decrease (I'd actually guess that stopping junk mail would increase the cost of postage, because of the reduction in revenue for the post office).


[ Parent ]

I disagree (none / 1) (#97)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 04:27:24 PM EST

I don't think that the costs with regards to junk mail are onerous whatever they are, and in fact, I think that laws prohibiting solicitation by fax or cellphone are unconstitutional.

The fact that there is a cost involved isn't determinative to me. EVERYTHING has a cost involved. I at least have a great enough commitment to free speech -- even speech I hate, which would include all unsolicited ads of any kind, any where, down to prominent logos on clothing -- to consider it more important.

The fact that someone has a mailing address, a phone, an email account or whatever is alone enough to indicate that the user wants to receive communication. Aside from commercial solicitations that are actively fraudulent or regard illegal activities, I think it ought to be the problem of the recipient as to getting rid of it. Given how much spam is fraudulent already, the remaining bit of spam probably isn't enough to be a real bother.

This might mean sorting through mail, or spam, or having to hang up on people. It might also mean telling them not to call back, or erecting some sort of sufficiently prominent notice in advance so that people know not to try before they've even done so.

This works fine for door to door solicitations, is beginning to work really well for phone calls, and I feel pretty confident that it'll work fine for most everything else. Though even then I'm still somewhat concerned that it might be clamping down a little too hard.

Personally, while I perfectly understand where they're coming from, I'm about as disgusted with most of the posters here as I would be with people that wanted to ban other forms or vehicles for speech, e.g. leafletting, marches, or whatever.

Sure, everyone hates spam. That doesn't mean that it's good to ban it.


--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Let's avert our eyes so we can't see... (none / 0) (#115)
by skavookie on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 09:43:33 PM EST

...the oncoming train.

There is a fair bit of junk mail (in particular, credit card offers) that one certainly does not want to simply toss in the trash without first shredding.   Just throwing the entire envelope into the shredder is usually not a good idea either.  One must open it and shred it a few pages at a time, which makes it difficult to "avert the eyes."

Furthermore, a lot of spam is made to look like something important like bills or mail you actually want (two separate categories there), which further increases the costs of sorting through the mail and means that sometimes one must actually open and read a piece of junk mail to make sure it really is junk mail.  My mother ran across an example less than an hour ago.  She received a piece of mail (from Bally's) that appeared to be the final bill for a membership she had canceled, but it actually was an offer to resume her membership.  If her intelligence were not above that of the general populace she would have sent it back and had the membership resumed.  Thus if one does not wish to be scammed, it is unwise to discard mail without first carefuly examining it.

Therefore, "the `captive' audience cannot avoid objectionable speech."

Now to address the argument that it doesn't matter that junk mail incurs a cost to the recipient: What the fuck are you smoking?  Do you mean to say that it would be perfectly acceptable for me to snailmail you this comment and require you to pay for the paper, postage, etc?

[ Parent ]

Care (none / 0) (#120)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 10:59:26 PM EST

There is a fair bit of junk mail (in particular, credit card offers) that one certainly does not want to simply toss in the trash without first shredding.   Just throwing the entire envelope into the shredder is usually not a good idea either.  One must open it and shred it a few pages at a time, which makes it difficult to "avert the eyes."

That depends on the person. Some people will chuck the intact envelope, others tear it up, some will shred, and I'm confident that a few people out there put it in a burn bag.

If you want to make extra work for yourself, that's fine, but you'd only have yourself, or at most identity theives to blame -- not junk mailers. They aren't responsible for either.

Furthermore, a lot of spam is made to look like something important like bills or mail you actually want (two separate categories there), which further increases the costs of sorting through the mail and means that sometimes one must actually open and read a piece of junk mail to make sure it really is junk mail.

Yeah, I've seen those from time to time. It's still not problematic. Never is it affirmatively deceptive, though. Just because one might get junk mail that looks like a personal letter (the Jehovah's Witnesses did this to me once -- and it was literally handwritten by whoever had been going door to door when I was out) that is basically mail slipping through one's mental filters as it were. But the mailer isn't lying about what it is, so what's the foul? It's no different than weighing one ad campaign against another and going with the one that's more effective.

Therefore, "the `captive' audience cannot avoid objectionable speech."

Of course you can. Burn all incoming mail and instead rely on electronic billing. You DON'T have to receive this stuff.

Nor are you captive. You can always request that particular mails not be sent to you, just as you can request that door-to-door solicitors not approach. But you have to take that step. Unless you do something, you're assumed to be open to accepting whatever comes in. That's the reality of how our society works. Passively sorting through it and junking it doesn't make clear to the world that you don't want it.

Now to address the argument that it doesn't matter that junk mail incurs a cost to the recipient: What the fuck are you smoking?  Do you mean to say that it would be perfectly acceptable for me to snailmail you this comment and require you to pay for the paper, postage, etc?

If that were routine practice with regards to all forms of mail, then yes.

When I have a mailing address, I realize that getting mail, sorting it, etc. is going to consume my time. It's part of the deal. Likewise for a phone and telemarketing calls. Having an email account on the Internet means people will send me mail, and it's up to me to deal with it. This is the intrinsic nature of these modes of communication. It's what they're for, and pursuant to the Superchicken rule, I knew that when I signed up for 'em.

I can minimize it, maybe even eliminate it, but it's not something I can assume will happen magically just because it is convenient for me.

Nor should it, probably, since on the whole I would prefer it if people had to suffer with disposing with unwanted speech on a per-person, per-incident basis than be so paternalistic as to assume that no one should send or get things that I might not want to get, just because I personally dislike it.

When you have free speech there is going to be speech that you don't like. I can live with that. Much as I hate ads wherever I encounter them, I would rather have them than live in a society so oppressed that we didn't have them.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Nope. Think about what INCORPORATION IS! (none / 0) (#125)
by mikelieman on Fri Mar 05, 2004 at 11:11:37 PM EST

When a bunch of people MAKE APPLICATION to the STATE to INCORPORATE, they AGREE to go along with REGULATIONS.  

"Rights" don't apply at all, once you've signed the application.  It's like registering a motor vehicle or obtaining a driver's license.  You surrender your RIGHTS for LICENSE.

If you ask permission from the state, and agree to go by it's regulations, you cannot pick and choose which ones you'll abide by.  You must obey or NOT enjoy the benefits of incorporation (or registering motor vehicles/insurance/etc...)

Now, the way I see it, acting against the public interest is a violation of that agreement, and at that point, the corporation should be disolved, and it's assets liquidated.

That'll fix the problem!
-- I Miss Jerry
[ Parent ]

What's to keep you from... (none / 2) (#83)
by nollidj on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 11:16:45 PM EST

When you get junk mail that includes a return envelope with postage paid by the recipient, is there some way to mail them a nice, hefty fifteen-pound brick and have them pay postage? It would require work (not to mention a readily available supply of bricks), but if a campaign were orchestrated something funny might happen.

muahaha. MuaHaHA! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAA!!!!

Nope (none / 1) (#90)
by geesquared on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 01:19:03 PM EST

The Straight Dope covered this one.

[ Parent ]
The brick trick no longer works (none / 2) (#96)
by big fat idiot on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 04:18:06 PM EST

Back in the early nineties I worked for a brokerage firm and we would routinely have people send in large packages by using a business reply envelope taped to the package as a lable. The USPS has since changed its regulations as has been pointed out to me in other posts. (Look at S190 of the USPS manual). Items with an envelope or code improperly attached as a label get discarded as waste items.

But what you can do is open the junk mail and stuff all the attachments and propaganda into the included busines reply envelope and mail that. There might even be room for some leftovers or a banana peel or two.

[ Parent ]

Privative the postal service (none / 2) (#91)
by nlscb on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 01:27:50 PM EST

Make everyone everything fed ex - sure, christmas cards would cost $3000, but it would stop the junk mail. The postal service loses money hand over fist. At the very least, don't use tax dollars to subsidize private advertising.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

The USPS doesn't lose more money than anyone else (none / 2) (#95)
by big fat idiot on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 04:13:44 PM EST

According to their 2003 annual report, the USPS made 3.9 billion last year which certainly helped offset the loss of 2.4 billion from the previous two years. The USPS generally makes a declining profit for several years, then loses money for several years, then negotiates with its oversite board to allow a fee increase and then the cycle starts all over. AFAICT, they more or less break even when examined over the long term.

Further, bulk mail is one of the most profitable areas for the USPS. It comes presorted, is small in size and high in volume.

So now that we realize that tax dollars are not really subsidizing junk mail, let's consider the one thing that the USPS buys us that privatization does not: universal coverage. If the USPS were privatized, overnight Alaska, Hawaii and most military bases would immediately lose most of all of their postal services.

[ Parent ]

interest free loan (none / 1) (#99)
by nlscb on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 05:31:57 PM EST

When the postal service loses money (which it does quite a bit of the time), the federal government makes up the difference, if I am not mistaken. This amounts to an interest free loan. So it is subsidized.

Why shouldn't residents of Alaska and Hawaii and the Pentagon be expected to pay for their own communication bills? And don't say because it's an essential service in the electronic age. Back in 1997, CanadaPost had a strike, and all it did was permanently reroute bill paying to electronic formats. Not to mention, the Post Office pays Fed Ex to deliver to remote areas.

I will take your word for junk mail is profitable for the service (though I am a little skeptical - has the GAO looked into that claim?). I will also admit that privatization would probably not get rid of all unsolicited mail. However, If I am going to deluged with junk mail, I do not think it is unreasonable to demand the government facilitate it's delivery. At the very least, it should not be able to demand an exclusive monopoly (the constitution says that the federal government may have a post office - it does not say that it can ban all others).

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Not quite (none / 1) (#101)
by big fat idiot on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 05:52:01 PM EST

When the postal service loses money (which it does quite a bit of the time), the federal government makes up the difference, if I am not mistaken. This amounts to an interest free loan. So it is subsidized.
You are mistaken and even if you weren't, the government also gets an interest free loan from the USPS when the USPS is profitable.
Why shouldn't residents of Alaska and Hawaii and the Pentagon be expected to pay for their own communication bills?
Because there is a national interest in keeping both populated and (at least in the case of Alaska) it most likely wouldn't be if living there wasn't subsidized.
However, If I am going to deluged with junk mail, I do not think it is unreasonable to demand the government facilitate it's delivery.
You're special pleading, arguing that if the government is going to offer a service, the least it could do is discriminate to your liking.
At the very least, it should not be able to demand an exclusive monopoly (the constitution says that the federal government may have a post office - it does not say that it can ban all others).
The USPS no longer has a monopoly. If it did, Fed Ex and UPS wouldn't be allowed to have a letter service, which they do.

[ Parent ]
Actually, (none / 3) (#100)
by trhurler on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 05:41:42 PM EST

No matter what some fucktard judge says, the law says that a corporation is a person, and that people enjoy the protections of the first amendment. That said, I like your proposal; there is a difference between free speech and a free podium from which to give that speech, complete with captive audience.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Technology Convergence Opportunity... (2.60 / 5) (#106)
by deanoh on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 07:51:38 AM EST

You could always use Business Reply Envelopes to enclose your unwanted AOL CDs???

A good idea but... (none / 3) (#109)
by FattMattP on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 11:57:01 PM EST

Allow unused postage-paid envelopes to be redeemed as cash at face value by any citizen by donating them to a charitable organization in the United States.

Where I live (San Francisco) street people would steal the mail to extract these return envelopes. Not hard to imagine since they'd be as good as cash.

Then just don't make them redeemable (none / 0) (#123)
by Riktov on Wed Mar 03, 2004 at 11:58:46 PM EST

Homeless people probably don't send much mail, but most of us still need postage stamps now and then.

[ Parent ]
A bizzare way of handling it o.O (none / 2) (#111)
by Golden Hawk on Sun Feb 29, 2004 at 11:55:58 PM EST

The problem does exist, but wouldn't a better way of handling it be to simply stop bulk mailing services?

I accompanied my boss many times when I worked at a small ISP to his spam deliveries (This is near Toronto).  We'd just drop them off and say "send them to random people in area x" and (after numerous obnoxious forms and bullshit from rude government workers) they'd merrily send them off.

Doesn't seem to me that those systems are in the best interests of the public at large.  Am I wrong?
-- Daniel Benoy

Good Idea! (none / 0) (#114)
by Sebrenner on Mon Mar 01, 2004 at 05:36:51 PM EST

Anything to force the costs back onto the offender is a good idea in my book.
Get all your cables off the floor.
Penalize "opt-out" marketers: Donate your postage-paid envelopes as cash. | 127 comments (89 topical, 38 editorial, 1 hidden)
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