As most/all of you know, our favorite regulatory agency the FTC (the "nation's
consumer protection agency" as they call themselves) has established a nation-wide "do
not call" list (www.donotcall.gov). Of course, the list does not apply to
politicians, only evil capitalists.
Now, I registered my home and mobile numbers on this list. I will be the first to
admit that I hate telemarketers with a passion. I usually hang up on them, sometimes
tell them to go to hell, etc. I can't imagine what kind of person actually buys
things form telemarketers (though they obviously do). I am not crying over the
establishment of a do not call registry. On the contrary, it seems like a genuine
public interest policy at first glance. I am not alone in my deep hatred for the
telemarketer - the FTC expects 60M Americans to eventually register for its list.
Most of the others will probably just never figure out how to do it. The question is,
do we need a government regulatory agency to step in and do this? Could you really
stop all telemarketers without a coercive government agency and its threat of an
It must have something to do with the property rights of a telephone number. Should
anyone have the right to call you? It is possible to set up your phone so that only
people whose phone numbers you've specified can call you. Same goes for internet
spam. But why should you have to restrict access to your email or phone from people
who may have legitimate reasons to contact you (but you don't have their information
ahead of time?) You would be blocking out emergency calls from hospitals, kids at
friends' houses, telephone booths, etc. For businesses it would be impossible. How
do you indicate to everyone who could possibly call you that telemarketing is an
unacceptable reason to call and a violation of your property rights? Could you
establish a private "do not call" list that you subscribe to and that then pays
telemarketing companies not to call you? You'd have a pretty obvious holdout problem.
Before the do not call registry was established, companies were required (by the FTC)
to maintain their OWN "do not call" lists, and you would have to request to be added,
only after they call you and harass you one time. But I know from experience that
this is really an uphill battle (read: is not effective at stopping calls). There's
also this thing called a "telezapper" that we tried but I never quite figured out how
it was supposed to work, I just know it was also ineffective. Now, if they call, they
will be slapped with an enormous fine, and the only people I have to tell to go to
hell are politicians. Music to my ears, but could it be done more efficiently?
Probably, but I can't think of it.
- Zac Gochenour