Cap'n Arbyte's



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Mailbag Lampooning

When I get spam offering to help me lose weight or grow my boobs I delete it without thinking twice. Spammers don't know anything about the people they're writing to, so receiving spam targeting some other demographic group is normal.

But I still raise an eyebrow when I get badly-targeted postal mail. If they're paying to send the letter, they ought to be better informed. So when I get an invitation to a day spa, I can only wonder what makes them think there's a woman here. I'll grant that "Kyle" isn't an overwhelmingly masculine name like "Leonard" (or "Dick"!), but it's pretty far removed from the ambiguous names like "Kim" or "Chris". I'd cut them some slack if the letters were addressed to Resident, but they're not…

They're just not paying attention. This must be how Milton felt. nobody listening to him. (You know, Milton, the guy with the stapler obsession from Office Space.)

First, from ITT Technical Institute:

There is a definite need for skilled, knowledgeable people in the HIGH-TECH industries of this country. Employers are constantly searching for individuals with the proper technical skills. At ITT Technical Institute, we provide those skills.

Yes, but… excuse me… Yeah, it's hard to find qualified people to hire. I've turned down several candidates. Strangely, none of their resumés used the word "HIGH-TECH" and I don't think it would have helped them if they did.

ITT Tech offers a valuable education in a variety of fields in which you can find a rewarding and secure future. It doesn't take four long years of college and you certainly don't have to be at the top of your class to qualify.

Yes yes, but I already have one of those.

Next, from David Wu, my Representative in the U.S. Congress:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to President Bush's plans to privatize Social Security. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter, and I apologize for the delay in my reply.

But… I told you I wanted out. You're not listening; I actually (sort-of) support Bush's plan. And, um, what delay? I wrote to you Monday evening and got something back in the mail on Friday. That's pretty damn fast for government, I'd say.

A few paragraphs later…

Social Security does face a current political crisis, however. Many members of Congress want to dismantle Social Security and replace it with a gamble. I am not one of those members of Congress. Like you, I agree that we should preserve the funds for Social Security and Medicare. In fact, the first bill I introduced in Congress was a lock-box to protect such funds.

Well, okay, but… that's the last straw.

I wish "many" members of Congress wanted to dismantle Social Security. They don't. But this is a popular theme. Somehow Democrats have mistaken Republicans for Libertarians. Republicans genuinely want to save the system. I want to kill it, not them.

It's just a lie to call partial privatization "a gamble" — are 401(k)s and the Thrift Savings Plan gambles too, Mr. Wu?

The "Like you" sentence is just slightly presumptuous. And the notion of a lock-box doesn't pass the horselaugh test. That's almost as funny as saving the system by raising the interest rate on the Social Security bonds.

There are many ideas being discussed on how best to preserve Social Security, including raising the retirement age. Please be assured that I will oppose efforts to prioritize [sic!] Social Security and will work hard to strengthen [… blah blah you know how this goes]

Raising the retirement age is the responsible solution to the program's problems. And it should be coupled with an individual opt-out.

Incidentally, I'm opposed to paying for Social Security out of general revenues. The separate bookkeeping entry is what makes opt-out implementable.

Tiny Island