Letters: 7/25/19

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In response to letter on robocalls

Dick Dunn’s letter (Re: “Fixing Robocalls would require thought,” July 11, 2019), in response to Paul Danish’s essay on robocalls (Re: “A modest proposal for combating the plague of robocalls,” The Danish Plan, June 20, 2019), claims that there are only two reasons for robocalls: (1) the technology permits spoofing a call’s origin, and (2) Americans are extremely gullible.

The first is true. The second reason is partly true, except that a significant component of this supposed “gullibility” might be more accurately characterized as “elder abuse.”

But there is a third dynamic going on, and it has been part of the spamming business model for decades.

Most businesses don’t themselves robocall, they try to get by on the cheap by hiring other (shady) businesses who have the tools and databases (and lawyers) to spam us all.  The sociopathic marketer who hires the sociopathic spammer usually believes the advertiser is not liable for the illegal acts of their hired hand (except that in court they find out they are).

Thus there is a market for robocalling services. And that market is sufficiently large that new business customers cannot ascertain the effectiveness of robocalling, so they try it.  Maybe they get some business out of it, but suppose they don’t.  In that case, they realize that robocalling doesn’t work for them, and so they stop doing business with the robocaller.

But the robocaller has been paid whether there are results or not, and can find another business sucker and do it all over again, making money every time, using the same database of telephone numbers (or these days, just dialing every possible number sequentially, over and over).

The point being that telephone end-users don’t need to respond at all, yet there will still be a market of (business) suckers for the robocallers. It’s a business-to-business scam that can go on for a long time.  All of us telephone subscribers are merely its collateral damage, whether we respond or not.

Most robocallers are now using voice-activated technology. Simply answering the phone with a “hello” tells them them that the telephone number they just called has a live human at its end, which makes that number a valuable commodity to use again, or to add to a rentable (or sellable) database.

One simple strategy to combat this is to answer, but say nothing. A human calling will eventually say something, and you can then begin a conversation. The robocaller machinery will usually hang up, and not know what caused the failure.

Doug McKenna/Boulder

A movement to save the planet

After reading the June 13-19 Boulder Weekly I feel compelled to write. Jared Polis’s celebration of the end of the “war” over oil and gas drilling couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Senate Bill 181 gives more local power to communities to regulate oil and gas drilling, but the only way to prevent climate destruction and protect our communities is to stop drilling, refining and burning fossil fuels. Emissions from fracking amount to 25 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year. There is no safe setback for our communities.

We’ve had over thirty years of science backing the need to change our way of life yet the industry has done little. In 1978 the Datsun B210 got 45 miles to the gallon. It was not the only car with this efficiency, but it was an economical alternative to gas guzzling automobiles. The technology was dropped during the Reagan years and here we are 40 years later with the only fuel-efficient cars beyond the budget of the average American. Greed is the reason. Greed is the root cause of global warming. 

It’s hard for me to feel sorry for the oil and gas industry when they had over 30 years to invest in alternative energy. Now we stand at the brink of disaster and yet little has changed. 

The Earth is a beautiful place and the only home we know. Everyone needs to join the movement to save our planet. Reduce, reuse and recycle is the environmentalist’s practice. Boulder is the perfect town for walking, biking and bussing. Standing up to the fossil fuel industry is not making war; it’s a social movement to save the planet. 

Sara Hersh/Nederland