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Wow, you mean all this time I've passed up the chance to get my member enlarged on a downtown sidewalk and get a million dollars from some guy in Niger while walking back to work?


Posted by Pack | January 10, 2007 2:56 PM

Have you tried Westlake Center around lunch time? I get hit with Save the Children and Greenpeace nearly every single day. My personal response to Save the Children is that I hate children and maybe they should think about saving the adults. While they are trying to push to outlaw pan-handling maybe they should outlaw the human spam.

Posted by Andrew | January 10, 2007 2:57 PM

There's gals over on Aurora who will enlarge your member for a price.

These PIRGers aren't really spam, because the cost is borne by the organization. The costs of spam are borne by the recipient. There is essentially no cost to sending out spam, millions or billions of pieces of it.

WashPIRGers deserve to be ignored. Spammers deserve to be very slowly fed into extra-large wood chippers.

Posted by Fnarf | January 10, 2007 2:59 PM

slow news day and dan needed to get laid - now he is happier


Posted by sidney | January 10, 2007 3:01 PM

Fnarf: actually, I'd be willing to bet there's a pretty large cost to spam. Sure, the botnets used to send them (apparently around 400,000 computers owned by chumps who don't keep their virus scanners up to date) are basically free, but they are also used to launch attacks on each other. As with any other quasilegal enterprise, paying for protection is probably a big part of the game.

I have to say... as much as I respect WashPIRG and Greenpeace, or at least support their goals, it would be pretty fun to watch a team of hired goons beat the shit out of their humanspambots in front of the Broadway QFC.

Posted by em | January 10, 2007 3:03 PM

Actually, those solicitors aren't WashPIRGers at all. If the situation in Seattle is the same as it is here in NYC, they're for "The Fund" (or is it "The Fund for... something something something?). Usually, they're college kids or recent graduates who want to work for a progressive cause and end up soliciting donations minimum wage for most their days. They're not part of the groups they solicit for, but hired by them to bring in public donations (which are oftentimes matched) and many of the kids work mostly from commission on such donations.

It's a somewhat sad situation actually. For one, it's demoralizing and somewhat exploitive to take idealistic kids, rent them out to marginally progressive nonprofits, set them out on a cold and rainy street and have them be ignored ninety percent of the time. Especially when the causes for which they solicit (mostly PIRGs, but the occasional Save the Children as well) change weekly or monthly and, aside from raising capital, they have little involvement with, and sometimes little knowledge of, the work the groups do. Secondly, it's counterproductive. Though donations usually do go up when "The Fund" is hired, so too does a lot of ill will. Many groups have stopped working with them, Greenpeace being one, after seeing the resentment they sometimes create. Thirdly, it's simply sad to see kids who could be involved and active in political, social or environmental progress and real changed reduced to spanging.

In the end, though, it's not spam, it's sweatshop fundraising.

Posted by Johnny | January 10, 2007 3:08 PM

Actually, the cost isn't borne by the recepient, technically... It's actually borne by the message system hosts, service providers, and network infrastructure owners. (oh,and the fools who buy what spammers are selling).

FNARF, thanks for the info, but will they give me a million dollars from a banker in Niger?

Posted by Pack | January 10, 2007 3:09 PM

When I was a student at UMass, built into the tuition was a donation to MassPIRG. Ever since then, when the MassPIRGers harrass me for dough, I can just say that I gave with my tuition, as I walk by. They don't need to know that was four years ago.

Posted by back east | January 10, 2007 3:30 PM

actually, spam is pretty cheap. I get mine for less than $2 a can.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 10, 2007 4:04 PM


I'll let them know that you really want a hug, not a request for doh-re-mi.

Posted by Original Andrew | January 10, 2007 4:14 PM

Pack: no, for your $6.2 million you will still have to physically carry $50,000 in a briefcase to a hotel lobby in London, and wait. According to a report I read, there are at least two or three people doing exactly that at any given moment.

Posted by Fnarf | January 10, 2007 4:28 PM

I disagree with Dan on this one.

I used to be a WashPIRG canvasser. It was hard work - going from door to door and asking mostly apathetic folks to give money. Whether it was talent, skill or just unbridled enthusiasm, I was actually kinda good at it. The downside was I would work my teenage tail off for little money and have people slam the door in my face or insult me. But it was for a good cause. Probably the best cause, actually.

You see, PIRG, despite shortcomings, works on important environmental issues that desperately need attention, such as taking polluters to task or lobbying for legislation that halts or at least slows the demise of the planet. Remember all that global warming stuff us progressives hate so much? PIRG is one of the leading groups working to save our grandkids from living in hell. Few socio-political causes promise a reward that indiscriminately helps everyone on the planet. Sure, PIRG could do a better job - but at least they're doing something.

And doing something requires money - lots of it.

Those canvassers out there goading folks to give cash are helping to build a national organization of around a million members, raise the funds to lobby Congress and sue the worst polluters... You know, doing the work we want done.

To come up with that cash, it requires that people fundraise and other people give - lots of them.

Since 9/11, folks get pretty sketched out when someone shows up at their door to ask for money. So PIRG has adjusted their practices to keep the organization afloat: raise funds on the on the street. They do it because it works. I should know; I give money to them almost every year.

Obviously, ignoring these folks won't help solve our environmental crisis any more than sneering at panhandlers will solve homelessness. This is also to say that PIRG is not the end-all, be-all environmental organization.

But perhaps even more important than what they do for the environment, PIRG is doing something more valuable than could ever be apparent to the passersby:

They are training the activists and leaders of the future.

PIRG has like a zillion young adults working around the country, learning the ropes of organizing, messaging and fundraising. By training these ambitious progressive canvassers to persuade folks to invest money in an organization that promises nothing more in return than intangible long-term change, PIRG has developed an army of driven liberals who could sell snow to Eskimos. Only in this case, snow is political and social change and the Eskimos are Americans who don't know how good they've got it. So don't piss on their snow. When the ice caps melt it will be your drinking water.

Unless the canvasser is rude or some brainwashed ass-sucker (Larouchies); give them a smile and a "no, thank you." Is that really so hard - considering they're making almost nothing and working like dogs to help save all of our sorry asses? After all, it takes the same amount of time and energy to be cordial as it takes to get into a huff and cross the street. And if you do have money, ask them to skip their rap and give them some duckets. At stake for everyone is hope for the survival of our species. At stake for the canvasser is their confidence that people give a shit about important issues and they can make a positive influence in the world. We don't want potential future leaders to become jaded because someone who supports them in principle was too busy scuttling around to give them a smile or part with a few bucks.

To close this unwieldy comment and assure you I'm not a do-right robot, I'll mention that when I'm in a hurry, I don't want to talk to a canvasser either... or a panhandler, or anyone. But I give them a smile if for no other reason than it makes me feel better than being a dick. That and I remember being that canvasser getting the door slammed in my face, and I hope that some of those kids on the street might decide that the experience is fulfilling enough to spend years, long after they have left PIRG, to do what I've been doing since I left PIRG: try to make this amazing-but-kinda-fucked-up country a little better.


PS - PIRG stands for Public Interest Research Group. If my memory serves, the fund to which a commenter referred is the Fund For Public Interest Research (FFPIR). The entity is comprised of PIRG, the Sierra Club, and maybe some other donation-worthy organizations.

Posted by Dominic Holden | January 10, 2007 5:15 PM

What Dominic said. It's a big, bad world out there - surely Savage can find something in it that's worth being mad at (and I say this as someone who works in the U-District where there's a new crop of canvassers to say no to each time a quarter break ends.)

Posted by Mr. X | January 10, 2007 5:32 PM

In london we call these people 'chuggers' (as in charity muggers), because everywhere you go, there is someone in a bib with a clipboard trying to get money off you. The annoying thing is, they are freelance, and don't belong to the charities themselves; you'll often see one person in a 'cancer research' bib one day, and a 'save the children bib' the next. Add to this hundreds of free paper distributers, thousands of meandering tourists and millions of angry, unhappy rush hour pedestrians, all packed on londons cramped, medieval streets, and you've got a recipe for a particularly stressful ambulatory experience.....

Posted by Shane | January 10, 2007 6:53 PM

There are many people who will only support charity organizations when directly asked by a human being, It's easy to throw a mailing in the trash or ignore a tv commercial, but when a real live human is asking you to help, the shame of saying no brings a few lazy but well intentioned people on board.

Posted by sari | January 10, 2007 7:03 PM

Dominic is right. Savage, who didn't even vote until he was, what--53?-- can suck eggs.

Posted by rodrigo | January 10, 2007 7:47 PM

its true...

a little birdie told me that though dan registered to vote in 1992, that he has only voted twice-- in 2006 primary and general elections. say it ain't so!

Posted by democratic birdie | January 10, 2007 8:16 PM

I too canvassed for both the PIRG's and the peace movement in the early 90's.

Thank you Dominic for a great post. You said it far better than I could have. I will add that canvassing folks in their homes and on the street started because it is damn hard to get folks involved these days. Big corporations own the media and have far more resources than progressive causes.

The one thing the left could do was to talk to people. Where better than in their homes. So we went door to door. Given people's fears these days, canvassers are now on the streets--working for good causes. Don't give to them if you don't want but don't give them a hard time for interrupting your bubble. This is the big city. The PIRG's are pretty low on my list of downtown annoyances. You don't want to sound like "Ask an Uptight Seattleite"

Posted by another former canvasser | January 10, 2007 9:19 PM

I know they're just doing their job, but if someone could please tell them not to interrupt me when I'm ON THE PHONE, that would be great. I was trying to coordinate a rendezvous point with a friend on the phone the other day and the asshole actually WAVED HIS HANDS IN FRONT OF MY FACE. That's a bit more rude than just bursting my big-city bubble.

Posted by Baxter | January 11, 2007 10:28 AM

Hey WashPIRGers -

Good for you and all the money you made, and all the good you did, now shaddup. The issue is not that you did that for a living, its that you assaulted us on the street, at home, or on the phone. If we want to make a donation, we'll fucking do it on our time. Don't pick your way thru our fence or block our path on the street. If you want to stand there with your clipboard, feel free. That gives me the option to ignore you. Get agressive and you get the hoody covered in my morning coffee.

Posted by wbrproductions | January 11, 2007 12:33 PM

Here's another reason for Dan to hate WashPIRG: the Public Interest Research Groups were originally founded by Ralph Nader.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 11, 2007 3:31 PM

And Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, so I guess we should all throw out birth control as tainted.

Posted by PG | January 11, 2007 4:21 PM

Y'all need MORE people breaking into your little bubble - if Seattle were a city with a real streetlife the adorable little chuggers would just be squashed like so many bugs against the windshield of your consciousness.

But when Christian Sinderman ran WashPIRG he fired my friend Ann for taking the day off to demonstrate: the day was November 30, 1999. WashPIRG can eat a dick.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | January 11, 2007 7:07 PM

On their own goddamn website the most
recent thing they brag about is from over two years ago. Wow ee. Save your money for a good quarter-Oz.

Posted by Get Chugged | January 11, 2007 10:27 PM

This is written in support of Dominic's comment. I too am an ex canvasser, or actually Field Organizer, for The Fund. As Shane complained about, I occasionally switched organizations I was canvassing for. Sometimes I was out there, going door to door for WashPIRG. Most of the time I was out there for the the Human Rights Campaign, which I understand isn't the best loved GLBT organization, but it's certainly better than apathy. And yes, it was great training to be an activist. It was hard work and frequently demoralizing as I was told all too often that all us fags should get AIDS and burn in hell. It also gave me the tools to fundraise and organizer for a myriad of causes, which I've used in the years since and plan to keep using. Most people don't like being approached for money, be it in their home, on the streets, by phone, by mail, by e-mail, or any other way that I know of. Nonetheless, worthy organizations, especially if they are liberal and out of the mainstream, are always going to need diverse and stable sources of funding. Canvassing on the streets or door to door is one source they can tap. Why begrudge them this, even if it means and interuption on your walk to wherever?

Posted by Kathryn | January 15, 2007 12:01 AM

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