By Art Gallagher
There is a sales technique that scammers and “legitimate” businesses, like your credit card company, use whereby a consumer is offered a free trial of a product or service for a defined period of time after which, if the consumer takes no action, he or she if obliged to pay a monthly fee charged to their credit card.
I vaguely remember falling for one of these scams years ago. I don’t remember what the product or service was but it got me into the habit of responding to those friendly callers who are lucky enough to get through to me by saying, “You are welcome to send me your free trial, but you are not authorized to charge my account unless you specifically hear from me in writing.” Miraculously, I don’t get those offers very much anymore.
Obviously, the marketeers are counting on the fact at a certain percentage, probably a large percentage, of their customers are not going to proactively cancel the product or service, or will miss the deadline to do so. They reap the profits for at least a month or two purely from their customers’ inertia, not from any satisfaction the customers may have with the product or service.
The technique must have a name among the marketeers. If anyone knows what its called, please post it in the comments.
Turns out that our State Legislature is on the verge of authorizing New Jersey’s school districts to employ a similar technique in gathering personal information about their students and their families, i.e., your kids and you.
The information the school districts want to gather includes (1)political affiliation, (2) mental or psychological problems that are potentially embarrassing to the student or their family, (3) sexual behavior and attitudes, (4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior, (5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom a respondent has a close family relationship, (6) legally recognized privleged or analogous relationships such has those of lawyers, physicians or ministers, (7) income and (8) social security number.
Back in 2001 there was a bill passed and signed into law that prohibited school districts from gathering such information unless that had the informed written consent of the student’s parent or guardian.
Now the legislature is on the verge of amending that law (P.L.2001, c.364) so that the school districts can gather the information from students so long as the parents have been notified in writing, NOT consented in writing.
I kid you not.
The Senate version of this bill, S1696, passed on May 23, 2011 with a vote of 26-12. I’m told the Assembly version, A3242 will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee Thurday, June 16th.
The rational for amending the law to require parental notification of information gathering rather than informed parental consent to the information gathering, according to the statement included in the bill, is to “mitigate the negative impact” that parental consent has made on “New Jersey’s ability to collect data important to public health and safety issues affecting the State’s student population. Numerous nonprofit agencies and federal grantees have halted their surveys or are seriously struggling to comply with the provisions of P.L. 2001, c.364 (C.18A:36-34)”
You could bet the house that a federal grantee or nonprofit would struggle to get my consent for such a survey to be taken.
Like the marketeers who assume you will be too busy or disinterested to cancel your book club or credit monitoring service, the Legislature and the school districts are assuming that parents are not giving consent to the schools asking about their political affiliation, sexual behavior or embarrassing mental illnesses because they are too busy, don’t care, or haven’t opened their mail.
Maybe parents just don’t want the government prying into their personal lives like that.
Maybe parents just don’t want their kids giving the government that kind of information. Maybe the government, schools and nonprofits are counting on parents being too busy or not getting around to responding to the notifications so that they can scam the information and then come up with new nanny state programs funded by tax payers and the People’s Republic of China’s treasury department.
I wish I could tell you that this legislation is being pushed by the nanny state progressive socialists Democrats in the Assembly. Sadly, it is being sponsored by district 11 Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini.
If you don’t mind the schools, federal grantees and nonprofits having intimate personal information about you and your family, as reported by your children, there is nothing to do.
If you do mind, contact your Assembly members as soon as your read this.
You can find their contact information here.