God Wants Homeless People To Lobby The FCC To Help The Outcast & Downtrodden AT&T?

from the say-what-now? dept

For years we’ve talked about how various lobbyist organizations in DC have “special interest” front groups. These are groups who get attention from politicians but really have no interest in the policy matters at hand. However, because large companies have donated to those front groups, the lobbyists get to write up letters pretending to be from those groups, so they can pressure politicians who don’t want to “upset” a certain special interest group.

“You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them…. You say, ‘I can’t use this one–I already used them last time…’ We had their letterhead. We’d just write the letter. We’d fax it to them and tell them, ‘You’re in favor of this.'”

Sometimes they don’t even bother getting permission, such as the time that a Burger King franchise wrote a letter complaining about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Except, when a reporter called the franchise execs, they had no idea what the CFTC was. There was some actual backlash earlier this year when AT&T got the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to come out in favor of its merger with T-Mobile, upsetting much of the membership, and leading a bunch of board members (including an AT&T lobbyist) to resign.

However, one small setback in such practices is no big deal when you have that big list of groups to go through. After “the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers” apparently there are the religious homeless shelters. The Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, proud recipients of a $50,000 donation from AT&T, has come out in favor of the merger with impeccably inscrutable logic:

The faith-based service provider offered what it acknowledged was ?an out-of-place endorsement? of the AT&T merger with T-Mobile, with Rev. R. Henry Martin explaining that ?People often call on God to help the outcasts and downtrodden that walk among us, [but] [s]ometimes, however, it is our responsibility to take matters into our own hands. Please support this merger.?

I’m still trying to figure out what that means. First, it seems to be suggesting that homeless people need to step up their game to support the “outcasts and downtrodden” AT&T and T-Mobile that “walk among us.” Because, um, otherwise, what does that refer to? The homeless people may be outcasts and downtrodden, but the shelter isn’t asking for any help for them.. but rather for AT&T and T-Mobile. I guess it also implies that God supports the merger but apparently God alone can’t convince the FCC, so apparently, if homeless folks could lobby and support one of the largest corporations around, that will be helpful.

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Companies: at&t, t-mobile

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Comments on “God Wants Homeless People To Lobby The FCC To Help The Outcast & Downtrodden AT&T?”

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Austin (profile) says:

Logic Escaped

Am I the only person who realizes you can’t vote without an address to register with? How exactly are they going to lose the vote of homeless people…who can’t vote because they’re homeless???

I mean, I assume some off these people will use the shelter as their address, and some may be registered at the address of family, etc. But certainly, some of these people probably can’t even read or write – probably a majority of them – so the threat of not getting a dozen votes here rings pretty hollow, no?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Logic Escaped

Yes you can vote without an address or a home. Courts have ruled it’s legal to register to vote with a park bench as your address.

Of course certain politicians would love to change that, there’s been changes in voting law lately to make it harder and more inconvenient to vote if you’re poor or don’t have a driver’s license.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Logic Escaped

Am I the only person who realizes you can’t vote without an address to register with?

They do have an address: that of the homeless shelter. Many churches and civic groups also allow homeless people to use their address for this purpose.

But certainly, some of these people probably can’t even read or write – probably a majority of them – so the threat of not getting a dozen votes here rings pretty hollow, no?

This likely varies by region, but most homeless people are literate. Perhaps not college-level literate, but literate nonetheless. Also, a large percentage of homeless people are, in fact, educated (and a shocking number have college degrees). A large percentage of homeless people are not the stereotypical “bum” and are not unemployed. If you live in a reasonably populated area, you probably interact with at least one homeless person a day and don’t even know they’re homeless.

Also, the “homeless voting block” is larger than the homeless themselves, but would also include people who work with the home and are sympathetic with the homeless.

John Doe says:

You laugh, but the homeless do care about the merger

I was staying in a hotel in mid-town Atlanta back in the spring that had a free continental breakfast on the 2nd floor. I ride down the elevator with this guy with a plate full of food who seemed out of place. We go out the door to the street and a hotel worker yells at him to stop, but he keeps on going. I see him flip out his cell phone as he carries his plate of food back to his bed in the doorway of a church. Apparently the guy was homeless and couldn’t be bothered to pay for food, but could afford a cell phone.

So you see, the homeless do have a stake in the merger.

Jake says:

Re: You laugh, but the homeless do care about the merger

Sorry to wander off the point a bit, but if you’re homeless, a cellphone can be at least as valuable as food. It’s a callback number to leave for job applications or your social worker, it lets you stay in touch with and friends and family even if you’re too proud to ask for their help, and it lets you call 911 if you break your leg or witness a mugging in progress.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: You laugh, but the homeless do care about the merger

While I have no doubt a cell phone is quite useful these days, I sure wouldn’t give mine up, the guys priorities are still messed up. He steals food from a hotel that he possibly could have bought with the money he is spending on a cell phone. A phone is a luxury item, food is a necessity.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You laugh, but the homeless do care about the merger

Try having the interviewer from the last job you applied for, contact you to say you got the position, without a phone. Any street address will work on an application, even the shelter, a bus station, a PO Box etc. However, I can completely understand why having a cell phone would be important, even more than paying for the food. I wouldn’t call it a luxury item either since a home phone is not an option for the homeless and good luck trying to find a payphone these days that actually receives incoming calls.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the methods he employs I can understand the importance of the phone. Also, if it is a pay as you go phone, whose to say he actually has enough money to buy the food he took? I’m just curious why he didn’t get his food at the shelter?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You laugh, but the homeless do care about the merger

1) “Try having the interviewer from the last job you applied for, contact you to say you got the position, without a phone.”
all you need is an e-mail addy.
You don’t even need your own computer since you can access your email from any public library computer.

2)”…why he didn’t get his food at the shelter?”
The food at the hotel was better!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You laugh, but the homeless do care about the merger

A phone is mandatory if you’re job hunting or receiving public assistance. Prepaid cellphones are dirt cheap nowadays: I saw a no-frills tracfone at my supermarket for $10, which included 10 minutes of time. Sure, you could buy $10 of food instead, but that still won’t get you a job with which to buy food after that.

Njdobber (profile) says:

par for the course...

these companies have been doing all these things for ever…it’s just so much easier to catch them at it now…30 years ago these documents held the same status (unclassified/public) but they weren’t in digital format…if you wanted to read these things you had to request copies, now you can just do a search of public digital documents…the real story here is that these companies aren’t just behind in business models, but also in subterfuge.

DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

That's brilliant

Mike asked,

I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

It seems pretty clear to me:

“AT&T gave me $50K to help the homeless though they wanted me to endorse the merger. I’m an honest guy so I won’t lie or pretend that I have a position on telecom policy but if it causes more donations, please do support it.”

I am delighted by his attitude (but don’t support the merger).

Anonymous Coward says:

Why don’t politicians look at a list of lobbyists and discount the lobbyists that look funny, just as this blog could ridicule strange lobbying behaviour?

Do they just look at which social groups are ‘in favour’ of something and decide, solely on that information, whether to support something – “the blacks, the gays, the homeless are in favour of this, so I’d [better/better not] support this to prove my [liberal/conservative] credentials!”

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They have this list but not how you’d like.
The list the politicians use shows how much gets “donated” by these lobbyists.

And the groups that send in support letters are meant to placate the public. I supported this because cause X you believe in gave them support! We want the easy fast answer even if it is untrue.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt allow thy merging of AT&T and T-Mobile.” It’s just that Moses had no clue what it meant so he didn’t write it down. Moses was punished by having his people wander in the desert for 40 years and dying before he could see the Holy Land. So the choice is clear: we must allow AT&T and T-Mobile to merge, otherwise the entire US population will be forced to wander the Mojave for 40 years and Obama dying before we reach Vegas. Though right-wingers would probably like that last part.

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate the way lobbyist use groups in this way.

It’s especially hard when you agree with their plight. Personally I am in favor of the merger, and here’s why you should be as well. Duetch Telecom, the parent company of T-Mobile, is not interested in investing in the business. That means no bandwidth acquisition, but with people demanding more from their phones (smart phones are the largest growing segment in the telecom industry), more and more bandwidth is required for each phone.

The merger would make sense for multiple reasons. one it would allow both T-Mobile and AT&T to merge their backhaul – this would provide more bandwidth for both at less expense per customer. Secondly, coverage expansion could happen because of the increased bandwidth provided by T Mobile’s existing spectrum. Third, without this acquisition, T Mobile will simply whither on the vine as its parent company has no expansion plans.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Which is how the market is supposed to work. If you supply a substandard product you die off. But to allow a major player to get a huge boost so they can stifle innovation and competition and their own documents prove they LIED about needing the capacity T-Mobile would add.

People might want more bandwidth than T-Mobile might want to provide, this means those people can look at the options from other carriers rather than be shunted into the AT&T fold and end up with fewer choices in a market dominated by few carriers who have no interest in getting more bandwidth, investing in expansion, or offering quality service.

Had it occurred that part of the reason T-Mobile has no expansion plans is because the major players have enough congress critter trading cards in their pockets to make sure that anyone outside of them has a hard time getting any headway? Because corporations getting “favors” that hurt competition in this country is not unheard of. That competition that should help provide options for the consumer is not actually happening because its bad for the corporations bottom line. And corporations with a smaller bottom line won;t have millions to pour into donations.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you read it in a certain light its almost as if they are saying that they are being pressured to support the merger because otherwise whatever funding they’re getting may go away. I think the “downtrodden” they refer to is indeed the poor and homeless, and since they are backed into a corner, they’re doing what they can and asking for help.

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