Help Stop OSPIRG
My campaign to keep OSPIRG flyers out of my neighborhood has provoked their attention, and I need assistance to defeat their onerous efforts.
For months I've been pulling down OSPIRG flyers in my neighborhood (you know the big STOP THE BUSH AGENDA, or CAMPAIGN JOBS TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT posters that cover every telephone poll every few weeks with offers of $300-500/week and a phone number with a made up female name) my efforts have obviously attracted their attention because now they are flyering my 'hood every few days and their posters are varied in color and message—I suppose they assume I won't notice all of them.
But I'm busy, I have to play a show tonight and get ready for a camping trip this weekend, and I haven't had time to get them all—so I need to enlist support. Please help join my campaign to STOP OSPIRG. It's simple, all you have to do is go for a walk through a nice neighborhood like Belmont, Alberta, St. John's, Mississippi... and rip the OSPIRG flyers down and recycle them if they aren't too badly damaged.
However, I don't expect a bunch of sheep to just follow my ideas without support, so here goes—I've broken down my reasons for opposing PIRG's into three simple categories. I'm sure there are more reasons, but these are mine.
1. OSPIRG Mistreats their Employees:
OSPIRG is part of the national organization Public Interest Research Group—a left-leaning fundraising group that occasionally publishes policy papers to get media attention. They use a small army of canvassers who go door-to-door soliciting donations for abstract campaigns like "save the rivers". Their campaign leaders follow a cookie-cutter model that is nearly identical in every state.
Workers (including my wife) are recruited with a pitch that "you work mon-fri from 3-8pm, and get about $10-15/hour". However, all employees are required to attend daily memorization training so their pitch does not deviate from PIRG's talking points. These trainings are mandatory, and occur from 11-12, after which all employees go to lunch together, and then drive to a work site where they start knocking at 3pm. They finish canvassing at 8, and drive back to headquarters where they do check-out paperwork and usually leave about 10:15pm—so their actual work day lasts about 11 hours and their real wage is much less than advertised.
Canvassers are held to a weekly fundraising quota, and if they don't meet it they are paid only minimum wage for only the hours spent canvassing. This sets up a conflict of interest, whereby it is often financially worth it for canvassers who are close to quota but not quite there to make "anonymous" donations out of pocket if the amount would be less than the difference in paychecks. (after about a week, they also began guilt-tripping my wife to show up at 10am for an extra 'volunteer' hour gathering signatures).
This is one of the sleaziest employment practices I have ever experienced (and I used to do door-to-door sales for the Oregonian), and has no place in any political alliance that believes in the union movement, worker rights, etc.
A far better model for canvassers is the Gifford Pinchot taskforce which hires real employees, pays them salaries, health care, vacation and other benefits. Their canvassers last far longer and are much more successful—however, their model requires that you actually hire good employees—something that would make it very difficult for PIRG to recruit their annual summer army of canvassers across the country.
2. PIRG Reduces Political Activism to Money
When they come to your door, the only thing they care about is a donation. If you ask them if you can get involved other ways (volunteering... ), they immediately fall back into talking points about how much money the Right is raising and how important grass-roots donation are to "saving our country"...
I know money is a huge part of our political landscape and I don't really begrudge people trying to use the system against itself. But, I think the sheer size of PIRG and the number of people it comes into contact with—both donors and workers—makes their financial focus immoral.
The problem is not too much money on the political Right, it is the fact that the influence of money has crippled our democracy and until we change that, we won't really be any better off. As far as I'm concerned, PIRG is part of this critical problem, not an answer to it.
3. OSPIRG Flyers are a Waste of Resources
OSPIRG covers nearly every pedestrian neighborhood in Portland (and the other PIRG's hit dozens of cities) with huge colorful posters designed to look DIY and give them 'street cred'.
I play in a band, and I love making flyers, I have no problem whatsoever with this method of advertising. However, I think it should be reserved for local events like rock shows, fundraisers, garage sales... Flyering is one of the few options to promote an event in a small area for a small budget. Technically posters are illegal in most places, but they are an important part of society, and serve a critical need in promoting community. However, OSPIRG abuses this privilege, and attacks neighborhoods with hundreds of flyers hung by mercenaries with no regard for the community.
When I hang flyers, I am always careful to avoid covering other flyers unless they are out of date—but several times I have hung flyers only to walk by a few hours later and find nearly every one of mine covered with a double size "Save the Environment" poster (that is what got me started on this campaign).
If a behemoth like Starbucks or McDonald's plastered the streets with posters, we would all be up in arms—but since PIRG goes to great lengths to look "indy" their propaganda goes unnoticed. They are a huge organization with deep pockets and if they need employees they have access to mass media just like every other big corporation. They ought to put an ad in the Willamette or at least on Craigslist, but keep it off of my neighborhood.
So, anyway, sorry for the long rant, but I felt like I had to be comprehensive if I wanted to convince folks. I hope you will join the movement to STOP OSPIRG, remember all it takes is a nice walk down the street.
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