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Don't call us and we won't call you

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Column by Jim Flynn

No recent president has been able to down size government, because Congress and federal bureaucrats are in constant pursuit of new funding for lengthy shopping lists of so-called essential services. An example is the 2003 National Do Not Call Registry (DNCR).
How could such a simple idea be so complicated that it requires 27 pages of explanations – basic information, definitions, subscriptions, renewals, downloading, and assistance? Answer: Requirements and regulations are the life-blood of secure federal employment and appeals for additional funding.
Simply put the DNCR applies to any plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services. The DNCR does not apply to political organizations, charities, or telephone surveyors. Why? Those are considered essential nuisances. Other exempt nuisances can be found in the Federal Trade Commission’s Expanded Definition of Exempt Organizations.
Since 2004 telemarketers have been required to search the registry at least once every 31 days and update their lists of cranky consumers who don’t want pushy phone calls during dinner. Mom said it’s impolite to answer the phone with your mouth full.
Our most frequent caller is Unknown name – Unknown number, an organization with many accents. A close cousin is Unknown Name – 800 number. Members of the Unknown family are persistent. They’re also shy about leaving their names and a call-back number. We assume they’re up to something shameful or criminal.
Solicitors from exotic places have also called us occasionally to offer interesting adventures in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Macao, the former Portuguese colony in South China. We weren’t interested in attending the Feast of the Drunken Dragon or the celebration of the Bath of Lord Buddha, which was most likely a ceremony held in a raunchy river that the local folk use as a bathtub - among other things. Obviously the DNCR will need additional funding to reach out to international solicitors.
In the meantime we continue to fend off solicitors who call regularly from 43 numbers in 25 states - in none of which do we have any friends or relatives. Since Florida has only one political primary, we assume other callers are charities, surveyors, or one of the mysterious exempt nuisances.     
If caller ID shows a recognizable nuisance, our greeting is to lift and lower the receiver in a single motion – no hello; no goodbye. Persistent nuisances will call again. If we’re in a playful mood, we put the receiver on a surface and let them blather into dead air.
We watch for calls from area 202 – District of Columbia. The call might be from the White House, Congress, or an intelligence agency seeking our input on a problem of national importance. We’re also on the lookout for area 212 calls – the Big Applesauce, from which celebrity appearance invitations are offered. Letterman hasn’t called yet, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.
 

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That was my thought,too.
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