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The Right Not to Be Annoyed

By Doug Patton

Doug PattonOne of the drawbacks to having a column published from sea to shining sea each week is depending on the news of the day to spur my creative juices. Some weeks are so devoid of newsworthy items that it is like having a tooth yanked trying to squeeze out 600 to 700 words on any topic of interest, even to me. Other weeks are so chocked full of news stories that make the blood boil that it is nearly impossible to choose just one on which to opine.

This last week was one of the latter. From the overreaching decisions handed down by our schizophrenic Supreme Court to the release of the sizzling, destined-to-be-bestseller, “Treason,” by take-no-prisoners author Ann Coulter, the last week of June 2003 was a week in which a column a day could have been generated.

But by week’s end, the story that caught my attention and reminded me once more why the Founders desired to see federal power severely limited when they put together the brilliant yet simple language of the U.S. Constitution, was the newly-created national “do-not-call” list.

I’m talking about the latest intrusion into the business of business by the bureaucrats of the federal government. Thanks to our great benefactors in Washington, anyone can now place his or her name on this special list in order to be protected from the big bad telemarketers of the world. Once your number has been placed into this gigantic database (which it seems Americans are submitting to in droves, like lemmings leaping off a cliff), the evil telemarketers can be fined thousands of dollars if they ever call you again.

I live in the heart of the country, in the Omaha, Nebraska, area. For at least the last twenty years, Omaha has been the telemarketing capital of the world. Thousands of people in this community earn their livelihood from this perfectly legal activity. They work for organizations like Omaha Steaks, which markets world-renowned, high quality food products to a nationwide customer base. Other communities across the country also are home to such companies.

Some who work for these firms are part-time college students, earning a little extra money and, in some cases, even receiving tuition benefits to help them further their education. Some employees are between jobs or supplementing their full-time income. Others are full-timers who earn a good living for their families and are very content doing this kind of legitimate work.

But an ugly attitude has surfaced in America, and it has stigmatized telemarketing sales people to the point that they are now held in lower esteem than lawyers and used car salesmen. And Uncle Sam is furthering this attitude by creating another government program to solve a problem that already has a myriad of solutions, from Telezappers to Caller I.D. to blocks on our telephones. A search of the Internet will yield more choices than you can imagine that don’t involve the federal government.

Yet, there was my president this past week, trying to justify this silliness by telling us that “Americans don’t want to have their dinner interrupted.” So, what you are saying, Mr. President, is that your administration has now created another new right – the right not to be annoyed. Whatever happened to “just say no”? Personally, I would rather be secure in my right not to be blown up by the terrorist cells that are under our noses and whose members can come and go freely across the thousands of miles of porous borders you don’t seem willing to close, thank you very much. But hey, that’s just me.

This ridiculous federal action places another burden on legitimate businesses at a time when we need to be encouraging the creation of new jobs, not finding ways to destroy old ones. I am one American who will not be placing my name on the do not call list. I’m on enough lists in Washington already.

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country, and on www.GOPUSA.com, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor.

He also writes for Talon News Service (www.TalonNews.com).

Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonamp.com.

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