Saturday, October 18, 2008
It's time for a political "Do Not Mail" list
In the run-up to California's election on June 3rd (primary races and two initiatives) my mailbox was deluged by propaganda. Each and every day, the postal carrier would drop a few pieces of brightly colored mail from candidates, interest groups, and deceptive front groups into my mailbox. And each and every day I would put the pieces on a stack for recycling without even looking at them.
Now, in mid-October, the trickle of mailers for the November election has started to become a torrent.
I don't trust the mailers and prefer to do my own research: I read commentary in newspapers, on blogs, check out the endorsements from newspapers and interest groups, and follow my own ideology. Many others, no doubt, find mailers to be just as useless.
So how about a political "Do Not Mail" list? Voters could submit their name and address (and phone number) to the Secretary of State office, and mailing companies would be required to consult the list when preparing their mailings. Or it could be run by the political parties — sort of a "don't waste your money on me" list. Besides keeping my mailbox less cluttered, it could save money for the campaigns and let them spend their limited funds on more effective approaches (like social networking). Although there is a danger that the presence of a list would cause more people to tune out politics, I doubt that the best way to get people to pay attention is through unsolicited mailers.
"Do Not Mail" lists are under discussion in handful of state legislatures and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are also thinking about creating a national list. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service has detailed report on the subject, including discussion of the effect of direct marketing on the U.S. Postal Service's revenue and on the number of jobs in the direct mail industry.
Random link from the archive: Sponge or Vegetable? The Ridged Gourd