Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why so hard to contact a Representative?

You know, in this day and age of instant communication, I find it odd that our elected Representatives in Washington still see the need to enforce filters on their email between us and them.

Oh sure, you can go to the House website, and enter in all sorts of information and then click the SEND button. But that's just a hassle.

What's worse, is that when you do do so, and you finally get a response (weeks later mind you) then you're are out of luck if you try to RESPOND.

Your representative begins an email dialogue with you, but as in most things where Washington is concerned, it's all one way. You try to respond to the email you just got, and you get the following error message:
550 550 5.7.1 Unable to deliver to (state 14)
I find it odd. Now, what brought this on you might ask? Well, I recently contacted my Representative (Gregg Harper) through that hard-to-use form on the House website, and provided him my view on H.R. 1256--which I see as a fairly straightforward power grab by our Congress.

He responded, told me that he voted in the AFFIRMATIVE for a list of "feel-good" reasons, mostly involving minors and "research."

Then he ended his email with this line:
Again, I appreciate you sharing your views with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance.
So you can see why I'd be annoyed that I could NOT immediately contact him with my response and thoughts. It's annoying. It actually makes me think that they make that form hard to use just so that they will be bothered as little as possible by their constituents. They certainly don't want a dialog on their decisions.

But, since I'm fed up with the online form at House.Gov, I've decided to place my response here on my website. This is the email that I attempted to send by way of further dialog on Mr. Harper's decision to support H.R. 1256:
Mr. Harper,

Sadly, I don't remember (nor can I find) the part of the Constitution which grants the government--or Congress specifically--the powers as outlined by this bill. Could you please provide me an annotated copy of the proposed legislation detailing the relevant articles (or amendments) of the Constitution which allows Congress to infringe upon these rights of the states and citizenry?

Another concern is the fact that this is nothing but a sin tax to be levied against those individuals who chose to partake of cigarette. After all, any fee which is imposed upon a business (and this bill imposes a fee upon businesses) are inherently passed onto consumers in the way of higher prices.

Then I have to wonder on the wisdom of raising the minimum legal age at which an individual can purchase tobacco products (which routine--and expensive--studies to determine the feasibility of such are a part of this bill). It is currently 18 in most states, the age at which an individual reaches their majority--and can thus enter into contracts, join the military and vote. Why then is this not also an appropriate age at which they can make the decision to smoke or not?

Additionally, State Laws already prohibit the sale and marketing of tobacco product to minors. Why exactly do we need another level of bureaucracy and legislation--at a Federal Level-- to reiterate this point? If the minors in question decide to break the state laws in regards to the purchase of tobacco products, how is having another way to fine the business people who are duped by these teens to purchase tobacco products a good and relevant thing? How is the cost of enforcement of this law going to help anything, especially in the current climate of financial insecurity in which we find ourselves.
Maybe later I'll find the time and energy to actually wade through the House website and send this through their arcane "Contact Us" form.

And maybe one day, they'll actually be concerned enough about what their constituents think that our elected Representatives would welcome a dialog from their constituents.

But I'm not holding my breath for that....

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