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Me to Register-Guard: A little less “outsourcing,” a little more “sourcing,” please

Out at Nacho Rancho, we canceled our Register-Guard ‘scrip many months ago, so the sting of being irritated by that rag every time I look at it is not as numbed as it once was. Even so, I think this story from Tuesday is a special case of “good enough for Eugene” journalism:

Party’s outsourcing annoys Democrat

Aside from giving some local crank a chance to see his name in the paper, and allowing Oregon Republicans to make a little hay by smugly assuring us that, unlike those Democrats, they “don’t use out-of-state folks” (er, unless they “have to”), this article is an irredeemable bucket of out-of-context provincial slop.

The story, in a nut: Oregon Democrats hired an Illinois company to handle their fundraising calls. Some guy in Eugene received one of these fundraising calls from a call center monkey in Nebraska, who couldn’t even name said Eugene guy’s local representative! Incensed, Eugene guy called up the R-G and lo and behold it’s front-page news. How could Oregon Democrats “outsource” call center jobs, given Oregon’s dire economic state?

With some light research, this “scandal” could have quickly vanished into its reasonable context. Oregon Democrats hired the Illinois company because it specialized in fundraising for “grassroots PAC’s.” With me so far? Okay, hang on, it’s going to get crazy in here . . . ready?

There are call center companies in Oregon with specialties sought by political organizations in OTHER STATES! Not only that, those durned foreigners actually hire these Oregon companies for work on their dirty foreign campaigns.

Hence I, during the 2000 election, served as a call center monkey in an office in Portland, Oregon, conducting push polls for the Republicans in the exotic nation-states of Montana, Washington and Colorado. The company, Moore Information, specializes in such polls and caters largely to Republican and conservative organizations. So, like the Illinois company hired by Oregon Democrats, it offers a special product in demand from consumers in other states.

This, dear R-G, is what is known as “interstate commerce.” The USA, or hadn’t you heard, is a free trade zone, in which consumers make rational economic choices regardless of state borders for the benefit of every state. Oregon has a pretty vibrant call-center industry, and the “outsourcing” practiced by Oregon Democrats is balanced by “outsourcing” directed to Oregon call centers from political organizations in other states. Oregon’s economy may stink, but then again, I imagine Nebraska’s stinks too. Neanderthal protectionism is not the answer. If political organizations in other states, perhaps prodded by similarly provincial newspapers, were to do what this article suggests Oregon Democrats ought to do, Oregon businesses would suffer, would they not?

Please, dear R-G, in the future, refrain from immediately conjuring the “outsourcing” bogeyman when presented with a non-story about the orderly interstate trade we’ve been practicing since attaining statehood.

  1. Timothy says:

    Dan: That’s the most excitingest place in Portland!

  2. Danimal says:

    Ah, WWB, you worked there after they moved downtown. Me, I had a strip mall at the corner of 26 and 217 in which to wile away the lunch hour.

  3. WWB says:

    Ah, good old Moore Information. I too worked there for a summer, practicing kanji to keep sane. The highlight for me was the lunch breaks where I’d climb the PSU courtyard waterfall fountain and plow through DeLillo’s Underworld.

    Plus: Just last month, Moore got caught doing another push poll, and in in hilarious fashion.

  4. Danimal says:

    Yeah, I had it as “ARa-PA-ho” until somebody laughed at me.

  5. Timothy says:

    Heh. Arapaho, “A-rap-a-ho.” Of course, half my family lives there.

  6. Danimal says:


    Timbo: What your mother went through would be a “push poll.” I did those for the Republicans when I worked at Moore Information. They are a whole lot of fun:Q: If the election were held today, would you vote for Senator Conrad Burns, Republican, or Martha Jenkins, Democrat?
    A: I think I’m going for Jenkins.
    Q: Okay. If I were to tell you that Ms. Jenkins has been alleged to drown her neighbors’ cats if they enter her yard, how would you vote if the election were held today?
    A: Gosh, I hadn’t heard about that. I guess I’m undecided.
    Q: Good. I might add that she allegedly once ran off with a 12 year old student of hers to Atlantic City, and later bore his child.
    A: Oh my.
    Q: Uh huh. And get this: she drowned that child with the cats. Er, allegedly.
    A: Oh No!
    . . . and so on.

    And you’re right about the pronunciation problem; I got in a lot of trouble with Colorado voters for mangling “Arapaho County.” I suppose the answer is to outsource all call center work to India, where they speak better English than we do.

  7. Timbo says:

    However, it would be prudent to hire a firm with employees that know how to pronounce “Willamette” and “Oregonian”. Also, don’t hire a PR firm that tries to masquerade as a survey. Dig the phone call my mother recently received (summarized and paraphrased):

    Mom: Hello?
    Survey guy: Would you mind taking a short political survey?
    M: Sure.
    S: As a registerd Oregone-ian voter in the city of Portland, have you decided who you will vote for in the upcoming Portland city council election?
    M: Oregonian. And no, not yet. I haven’t researched the city council candidates.
    S: That’s fine. Would you agree with this statement? “Nick Fish is a stand-up guy who will bring Portland the peace and prosperity it needs as a member of city council, and who possesses one fine head of hair?”
    M: I don’t know; like I said, I haven’t researched the candidates yet.
    S: Don’t worry about it. Maybe you will agree with this statement: “Sam Adams is a viscious killer who, as a member of city council, will drown each family’s firstborn child in the Will-a-met River?”
    M: What the hell? I thought this was a survey, not a transparent endorsement of Nick Fish!

    Of course it’s always possible that Sam Adams hired the survey crew to paint a black mark on Nick Fish, so I can clearly not pick the glass in front of you.

  8. Timothy says:

    Do not mock me, I am not in a mood to be mocked!

  9. Danimal says:

    Wow, Tim, I hadn’t thought of that!

  10. Timothy says:

    Substitute in two different countries instead of two different states and you’ve got the exact argument against worrying about “outsourcing” period.

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