Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

  Do Not Mail dot Gov in 2008?

Anyone remember the single most popular and effective US government initiative in 2003?

Hint: It wasn't the Iraqi war.

It was donotcall.gov.

Inside of mere months - over 100 million people signed up for the service. The collective unwanted voices of the sales universe on the telephone were silenced - and an extraordinary majority (76%!)of the American people were made happier - or, at least, less often annoyed.

In the past year I note that I've got more sales calls than the past 2, though once I inform most callers that I'm on the donotcall list they hang up quickly. Why they are not using the simple database donotcall.gov provides I don't know. I am afraid to find out, actually. (When last I looked there was some sort of brain-dead licensing scheme in place for the data - it would be childs play to offer up the database via the DNS based e.164 protocol).

What worries me today is that perhaps donotcall is being weakened - or perhaps subject to homeland security - as the two hyperlinks for "exceptions" and "duration" - right there - on the first page of the donotcall website! - point to documents that have been "withdrawn". I fired off an email to the ftc's webmaster to see if that can get fixed. I'm so otherwise happy with donotcall I can hardly bear it, and I keep thinking extending it to snail mail - would be a great idea.

I just went through nearly a month's backlog of snail mail and filled two trashbags with catalogs filled with things I can't afford, at least 12 credit card offers for credit I don't want to use - over 20 separate offers to reduce my mortgage by doubling my interest rate and extending the term past my expected lifetime, a bunch of bills and reminder notices that I could just have easily got via email, and... finally... I found the letter from my mom, and the 2 pieces of paperwork I needed to complete my taxes.

I used to not resent the paper mail I got... but that was when my woodstove was still working. When my woodstove was still working I really resented the envelopes with the little plastic windows - they made a terrible stink.

Compulsively I've signed up for a bunch of services that will hopefully cut this tree killing down. I'm pleased to note that the opt-out term is now 5 years, and the cost of opting out is only a buck. How much do I have to pay to opt out forever?

I have great hope that I'll never see the credit offers or mortgage offers again, now. We'll see.

What I want most, at the moment, is a means to prohibit all the 4th class mail I get. I think a stirringly popular initiative some politician could make in the coming election would be to promote a "donotmail.gov" - and also promote extensions to donotcall.gov that will also ban solicitations from charities and government officials.

In the morning I'm going to move a recycle bin to right below the mailbox.

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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