"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"
The experience of many who have been involved with U. S. Public Interest Research Group has been a positive one.
Americans got an opportunity to feel positive about working of the environment, informing their fellow citizens about what was really going on, and to take home a healthy salary.
What color was the sky in that world? A glowing orange during the dusk hours, a surreal fuchsia-purple, for some reason, near the big cities.
Usually when the question is asked, "What color is the sky on your planet?" It is meant as a implication that the person being questioned doesn't >>really<< know what's going on.
Many people believe in USPIRG, the organization well known for devotion to environmental action.
Yet people involved whole heartedly in the movement to restore the Earth's environment to one more friendly to humans may wonder: if PIRG, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and other organizations like them are doing so much good work to heal the environment and change government policy -- then one would expect the effects on the environment to be visible.
One Worker's Story
"X", a former PIRG employee that preferred to go unidentified, had this to say.
"I never worked somewhere where so much paper was wasted. Big huge bins of paper every day, every day. If i ever questioned how we were talking about...saving the environment and yet wasting all that paper...i was ignored or told not to question the ways of the organization. I was made to feel like: PIRG pays people a lot of money and if you don't like the way we do things there are a lot of people who would love your job."
"X" Continues. "I was forced to lie to the American public about things i knew were not really true. It really sucked, and when they fired me after not making quota for two weeks i was really left feeling like a human resource that no one valued. Especially since I had created fundraising records with that company.
"The kicker was in my last weeks of work there, they would give us envelopes to mail to Members. And included was this envelope that was all about some Green Mutual fund...that members could join...and i didn't really mention it at the time cause i was starting to see what was going on...but i said to myself, 'the mutual fund people, the banks..are in bed with the worst polluters and environmental crooks that there are. How are we suggesting to Pirg Members that a good way to help the environment is putting their money into mutual funds so that bankers who could care less about the environment can get richer?
"then after a week passed when i didn't make their quota of money i was let go.
"the turnover there was really high. People came in and got swept out. Sometimes it was because people couldn't really read the material. that i could understand.
"But a lot of times i saw new hires get booted after a couple of shifts because they simply were not so anxious to ask people who said NO, i don't have any money, over and over again, for money when they had said no. They might have been good workers for the environment and understood the issues better than me. but they got the boot because they weren't persuasive and greedy enough.
"There was a hierarchy of management there that didn't change in the two months i was there at all and anyone who questioned this hierarchy and its policies, not just me--were given rude stares, general monologues about 'this is what works' and a sort of 'how-dare-you' attitude in general.
"I felt used...and i felt really bad about it, like I had known about PIRG for years before i started working there...and i had thought that they were a real friend to the environment. But that was in 1997 when i worked there. Now after the last election i feel like i was just a fundraiser for the Nader campaign. And a lot of people think that Nader helped Bush get into office.
"I don't know if that's true or not, but I knew my last weeks there when i was shoving "Join The Green Mutual Fund" envelopes into -- i felt like i was working for banking and big business and the environmental stuff was just a front."
"Maybe PIRG does make a difference, and maybe things would be worse without them.
"But damn if after they were done with me if i didn't feel like a used up and thrown away piece of natural resources. I felt like myself and the other hires who turned over were just food for a big hierarchical organization, and after they had sucked the feeling out of us they spat us into the street."
"I wish there was a real environmental group that wasn't so mixed in with big business and the profit motive.
Next: nader and the Election of 2000