There is very little more annoying than a telemarketing call. I earn my way in this world by telling jokes, and I eagerly anticipate every ring of the phone as it usually signals the arrival of a new gig onto the calendar. So it is dreadfully annoying when the person on the other end of the phone starts trying to sell me something.
There have been many attempts to quiet the calls, through legislation and technology, but the aggressive telemarketing industry always finds a way around the blocks. The reality is that companies that use phone banks generate more in sales than it costs to keep them staffed. If we want to stop telemarketing, we have to shift the balance in two areas: Decrease the sales, and raise their payroll costs.
The first is easy. If we all agree to simply stop buying goods and services marketed in this fashion, the profit incentive will disappear. To win on the second front, we must conspire to make the telemarketer’s job more unpleasant so firms will have to raise wages to retain employees. I propose we all take an oath to make these phone calls as unpleasant as possible. Forget that we live in a civil society and stop being nice. After all, they initiated the call. One interesting way to annoy telemarketers is to turn the tables on them and try to sell them back. I’ve found libertarianism to be a very effective way of distancing friends and neighbors, so why wouldn’t it work on total strangers? Next time somebody rings your line to ask you if you know how much you can save on your long-distance, calls, ask him if he knows that there is no constitutional basis for having to file an income tax form. Keep him on the phone listening to a litany of market-based solutions for an hour or so.
Or ask your telemarketer exactly what he did to deserve such a crummy job. Kids before marriage? Didn’t take school seriously? Drugs? I understand that a lot of telemarketing companies are going to prisons for the cheap labor available there. It’s kind of ironic that the same politicians who promise us legislation to protect us from telemarketers are profiting by using the penal system to make the telemarketing calls they rally against. This opens up a wonderful opportunity for us to perform outreach. We all imagine ourselves as revolutionaries and rebels, but the truth is most of us are law-abiding geeks. Few of us will ever spend any time in prison. If you find that the salesperson is calling you from prison, there’s an excellent chance you’re talking to one of the million or so incarcerated drug criminals that should be in the Libertarian Party. Don’t let the Democrats be the sole benefactors from the criminal demographic. Granted, if they are felons, they probably can’t vote, but you can tell them that if Harry Browne had been elected they would have been paroled by now, and selling MCI from outside. Your captive audience might encourage his friend and family to join us.