Sunday, August 16, 2009

Push Polling for Usurers

If I have the time, I am willing to spend a few minutes on the phone answer questions from polling companies – if I have heard of them. Aside from wanting my opinion to count, I understand that corporations who pay for polls have a vested interest in knowing what and how the public thinks of them. (It is a source of endless hypocrisy when politicians denounce reputable polls, when the same pollsters make most of their money for delivering accurate results to corporations that have an intense need to have accurate information.

Sunday, I agreed to be polled by a company named Western Wats. It soon became clear the poll was about consumer views of credit card companies, and then even clearer that it was about the issue of federal regulation of “interchange fees,” the extremely complicated financial maneuver by which the usurers who supply us with Visa, Mastercard, AMEX and Discover cards rip off small businesses and, by extension, you and me.

As the survey went on, the questions became clear propaganda –the format being “Would you feel less or more in favor of XXX if you knew that (lengthy talking point propaganda in favor of the industry.”

Transparent, yes. As transparent as when South Carolina Republicans asked in 2000 if they would be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he had a black daughter, which was untrue.

This is known as “push-polling,” using a survey for the purpose of spreading propaganda, without regard for the actual results. In the case of Western Wats, the company that called me, it is possible they wanted to persuade me of the merits of the credit card industry. But as the same questions were asked three times, each time after more propaganda was read to me, it became clear they were trying to get enough opinions changed for Visa and Mastercard etc., to advertise results purporting to show widespread public support.

This is the same tactic being used by the Washington special interests who have spewed enough fear and hate to turn a public that had been solidly in favor of health insurance reform (note the results of the presidential election) into pitchfork-wielding bully thugs who claim reform will dismantle America.

By the way, Western Wats, is tied closely to Republican candidates, especially Mitt Romney, who used the company to push poll himself in 2008 by paying the company’s interviewers spread an anti-Mormon message. The purpose apparently was for Romney to have something to denounce, to inoculate himself against more dangerous attacks later from the real religious bigots in America.

If you have been paying attention to newspaper articles or the fine print on your credit card statements, you would know that these Republican moneychangers are screwing you left and right – decreasing courtesy points, increasing interest rates, trying to charge fees to those who pay on time. The “interchange rate” is so nasty that even Republicans have supported federal regulation of the industry.

In fact, the reputable Harris Interactive polling company, found that while only one-third of respondents had even heard of “interchange fees,” when the issue was explained, 91 percent supported legislation to make credit card companies come clean with consumers about their nefarious practices.

“Interchange fees” is not an issue I am totally comfortable explaining, but I am comfortable in advising that when you are phoned by a corporate marketer for your opinion on some subject, please note that you might be simply a propaganda target -- or a stooge for future false advertising. But if you have the time, engage these people and tell them what you think – especially if what you think doesn’t comport with the intent of their questions.

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