Comment Of The Day: “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”

In this Comment of the Day, Chris Marschner expresses more sympathy for the frauds, scammers and bait-and-switch artists of the world, and less sympathy for the scammed, than I have. He is right, I think, that by the time someone fooled by fundraising letters masquerading as something else actually send in a donation they have figured things out. It doesn’t matter. The scam is fooling people into opening the letter.  And donors are indeed fools to willingly give money to any organization or entity that show such disrespect by using deceptive tactics.

Chris writes that people should read envelopes and mailers carefully. Sure they should, but reality is that they don’t. They also don’t read the small print in contracts, or users agreements on smart phones and social media sites. Human beings are wired to be trusting, not to assume that everyone is trying to pull something over on them. That’s a good thing. Society is based on trust. And little by little, in almost imperceptible ways, manipulative, unethical people and organizations erode that trust.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”:

I understand why people see this as sleazy but to say people sent money in because they were duped is unsupported. All one has to do is read the questions and see it it is pro- fill in the party. You can (should – provided you were not born yesterday) assume there will be an appeal for a donation.

Let me be very clear. Congress passed a law with a hole in it a 777 could fly through. I thought the lawyers that write the text of these laws are trained in writing. All that law needed to say is that the word census cannot be visible to tbe recipient prior to opening. Or, if you don’t want any misunderstanding simply say the word census may not be used anywhere in the mailing.

I get these types of fundraising letters from a variety of groups; police, firefighers, veterans etc. All appeal to some authority to compel action.

So it looks like a government document, many mailings attempt to look authoritative. We often lament the general lack of awareness among the populace. Yesterday we had a quiz on cultural icons. Perhaps instead of knowing who Ernie Pyle was we should demand an equivalent understanding of the various ways people are conned. How can people still fall victim to scams such as. tech support from windows calling about my infected computer or my favorite ” hey grampa” ____ fill in the con___. I get these all the time and when I have time I screw with them and waste their time. Sometimes I even get them to cuss me out. At what point do we stop having to tell people about not giving private info to people that call. Who taught these gullible people that they had to acquiesce to the demands of an unseen and unvetted government “official”. I can tell you, real government officials.

Nothing in the text of these mailings would lead anyone to believe that these are actual Department of Commerce mailings.

I have gotten these mailings and I simply write on the “official document” that I will only support candidates of my choice as many members of Congress are too mired in the swamp. I send it back in their postage paid envelope.

Sure, these mailings are bullshit but so too are the excuses why people see them as an official demand from government when a simple read of the documents would reveal them as anything but.


11 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Boy, The GOP Really, Really Likes Census Scams!”

  1. I appreciate the acknowledgment.

    It is not that I have sympathy for fraudsters it is that I believe we have an obligation to protect ourselves from the less than honorable persons who seek to get us to willingly give them our money.

    What preciptated my response was Jack’s essay on cultural literacy. My point was that the ethical person must also be aware of cultural issues that can threaten them. Remaining oblivious to the facts that there are people out there that will use official looking documents to con you is worse than not being able to identify a sculpture of Ernie Pyle.

    Handshakes on deals are a wonderful testament to our wiring to be trusting. But, handshakes are typically predicated on knowing the other party. There is often an unwritten social penalty for breaching a handshake deal. Trust is important for a properly functioning society but blindly trusting everyone makes one a fool.

    • I like the comment, and you’re not wrong. But trust makes all of us fools eventually. I want to make sure the primary blame goes where it belongs…like the rape of a too provocatively dressed young woman, the the home owner who leaves his door unlocked.

      • Absolutely, socially we have an obligation to treat each other as we expect to be treated. There is a continuum on the scam scale from outright fraud to buyer laziness. Blaming a victim is not what I would suggest but balancing responsibilty is what I propose.

        In a perfect world we should expect fair dealing but given we don’t live in a perfect world we must undertake some minimal effort to avoid being scammed. Perhaps because I am familiar with a person who has twice fallen victim to the same scam I am less forgiving.

        • Making yourself an easy victim is unethical, in other words. You encourage the success of predators who have no ethical alarms.

          Hmmm… that plays into voting for certain Swamp dwellers as well…

          • SW
            You captured exactly what I was trying to say.

            I almost think there is a Munchausen by proxy syndrome associated with such victimizations.

      • I believe it is Mona Charen who I first heard a wonderful analogy on the “victim blame” conundrum.

        In America driving law and culture, a driver has a duty to stop for a pedestrian in a cross walk. It is the fault of the driver if a pedestrian is hit, no excuses.

        It is also foolish to carelessly walk into a crosswalk. The penalty can be severe injury or death. It remains the fault of the driver, but you are the one who pays the true price. You can ascribed as much blame to the driver as you want, but you can’t change the penalty to the pedestrian no matter the punishment to the driver.
        This can be applied to all of the examples of victim blaming. No, we shouldn’t victim blame, but we can’t change that there are things that change the odds of being a victim.

  2. Human beings are wired to be trusting, not to assume that everyone is trying to pull something over on them.

    I think this could be a chicken and the egg type question, but I do wonder if that is truly an innate human trait or something learned culturally. Learning to work with those in East India, I’ve learned one of the hurdles to clear is to gain trust. Since everyone is trying to pull a scam all the time, they are not inhently trusting. You have to earn it before you can work efficiently together.
    I could buy that being trusing is taught as a part of our culture, or the distrust is created as part of theirs.

    • Perhaps the lack of moral underpinnings is responsible for the state of that society?

      My hypothesis is that their society is further along the spectrum we are progressing upon. When there are objective, generally upheld ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ trust makes sense within that society. When there are no absolutes to fall back upon, the society degenerates.

      No casting aspersions upon India, just forwarding a theory.

    • Haven’t lived in India for going-on sixty years. Thought they’d have outgrown the automatic scamming by now. Sorry about that. Or maybe it’s more prevalent in the states you were in.

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