Bryan Caplan  

Jane Shrugged

A True Story of Efficient Regu... How Egalitarianism Undermines ...

Here's the true story of Jane Galt, exploited PIRG employee who finally attained class consciousness.

By way of contrast, every libertarian organization I ever gophered for treated me like family. I did however occasionally work extra hours off the books to savor the joy of working for less than minimum wage.

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El Presidente writes:

This story resonates with me. I attended an info session/group interview for CalPIRG shortly after graduating from my undergrad program. I don't have great familiarity with the inner workings of the groups but my limited exposure will second the concern. I was a single, somewhat liberal, easy-going, early 20-something, with less than $5k in debt after four years in school and still could not afford to work for them. That's how low the pay was. It reminded me of one of my more desperate times in school when, during a quarter break, I took a job as a telemarketer. They had a script to lure people to a timeshare presentation. In the script there was a grand prize to be awarded by raffle at the presentation meeting that magically changed from a Ford Explorer to a Ford Expedition over the course of two paragraphs. When I pointed out this error to the supervising staff and asked which one was correct, their response was, "pick one". There was no car. The same sort of mentality seems to occur with CalPIRG. You are supposed to read the script, and not ask questions. And they would prefer you finance this activity for them; they don't even pay a living wage for your services. The goal seems to be persuasion, not policy. They seem to want to send people out to argue for specific legislation in the homes of average people and collect money to pay for the talk time. That's the service they provide. They will send somebody to tell you what you should think. Not necessarily to do anything about it if you should happen to agree. The only logic I can see in that behavior is perhaps they are trying to plant survey respondents who can skew survey results should they be polled by public opinion researchers. And since they workers earn their own measly wage, they get this service almost for free. Seems like the groups could be used for a lot more valuable purposes than that. They are, after all, "public interest RESEARCH groups" not special interest advocacy groups. If you wanted to go out on a limb, you might say that they glean information about the street cred of policies by gauging the contributions for specific policies in specific areas. It's a long way from formal survey research though.

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