Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I found out a lot more stuff about the place I worked at for a day, the PIRG place. I knew something was wrong with the place, but thought maybe it was just a personal thing of mine, the worry about the money and the hours and all that.
So I go into chat and mention the PIRG and Zaphod tells me all about how horrible they really are, what these places really do.
Then I start some research of my own, and realize PIRGs were started by Ralph fucking Nader and are specially designed to line Saint Ralph's pockets.
I worked for Ralph Nader for a whole day.
I am ashamed.
Anyway, from what I can see, these places just work like glorified pyramid schemes. The 'funds' we raise from canvassing pretty much just go to finance the hiring of more canvassers to raise funds to hire more canvassers to raise funds to hire more canvassers....you get the idea.
PIRGs are basically just scamming stupid college kids all across the country. PIRG offices zone in on campuses, and cluster around them, luring the kids into a trap like a snake charmer. These kids go in under the impression that they are going to be doing something 'good' for society and the environment. They don't realize they are being suckered into working a lot of hours off the clock, for less than minimum wage, in a shitty work atmosphere. PIRGs are exploiting people while they wave a big fat banner about being the voice for people who 'have no voice.'
I realize being that 'voice' appeals to a lot of people, and that may be why most are blind to what's being done to them when they work with the PIRG. All during my first training day, I was a bit appalled at the level of naivete amongst my co-workers. There was another boy training with me that day, and he asked me what I thought of the job towards the end of the day.
I said that I liked it fine, but was concerned about a few things, mainly the pay and the long hours without MORE pay, and the wandering around alone in the dark in strange neighborhoods.
I thought these were pretty valid concerns and that he would probably agree with me, since he seemed like a pretty level-headed kid before. But no. He said, and I quote, "Well, none of that stuff matters, since we're working for a good cause."
Hmmm. It does matter. A lot. I have a family to support, shelter, and feed.
I can't be wandering around, putting myself in potential danger, killing my feet, asking for money, and not get paid properly for it.
I don't care if it's a 'good cause' or not. None of this money we're raising ends up with the 'good cause,' anyway.
Furthermore, they even scam college kids that DON'T work for them. Any of you right now in college or university here in the States right now, check your tuition bill. There may very well be a fee on your bill for a PIRG that you aren't aware of. That's right, you may be donating to a 'cause' without knowing about it, or even agreeing with the 'cause.' See, what the PIRGs do is collaborate with school administrations on attaching a mandatory donation to the tuition bill. The fee is usually from 3 to 8 dollars, and it gets slapped onto the tuition bill. If the school won't agree to a mandatory fee, the PIRG will negotiate to make it 'voluntary.' Apparently, 'voluntary' in PIRGspeak means 'We'll make you pay it first, then leave open a one day window a year, where you have to travel far and wide to find a tiny basement office and get your money back.' Or they define it as, 'You can opt out of this fee, but only if you know where to find the tiny box on your school paperwork to uncheck. That's right, we check it first, and if you don't want to pay the money, YOU have to uncheck it. That is, if you can find it. Hahahaha.' So hundreds of thousands of kids all over the country are donating to this unethical, slimy, shady organisation invented by Ralph fucking Nader, without even realizing it. From the articles I read, the PIRGs raise anywhere from 10 to 20 MILLION dollars a year this way.
And the money these kids donate doesn't even stay on the campus, with the local PIRG. It goes right to the national PIRG, called USPIRG, and eventually lines Saint Ralph's pockets.
So, way to go, Mr. Nader, champion of anti-capitalism, human rights, and the forests!
I don't know why I should be so amazed that an organization that claims to be a human rights advocate would be exploiting their workers in such a fashion. These kids might as well be sewing shoes together in a sweatshop in China somewhere for 15 cents a day.
All I can say is that I'm glad I found all this out before I got too embroiled in the PIRG.
I'm going to be writing a nice little article on PIRGs, focussing, of course, on the Ann Arbor office which is part of PIRGIM, and sending it to various papers around here. Hopefully, some of the kids will read it before they go down there to apply.
As the giant saying on the wipe off board at the Ann Arbor office so proudly proclaims, 'KEEP ON FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!'
I will indeed.
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