Saturday, November 21, 2009

There’s “illegal,” and then there’s unlawful — and in a righteous society, they would be the same

The distinction between an act being truly unlawful and merely “illegal” is that the former is rooted in God’s law, whereas the second is merely created by humanist judicial or legislative fiat.

Robert Ingram illustrates the distinction quite clearly [my italics]:
... Due process of the law means a proper and just conviction of a crime. No one may be executed, imprisoned or fined unless he is a convicted criminal. At the time of the adoption of this Constitution there was none of the present day confusion about crime which sees any infraction of statute regulations somehow as criminal. But the real criminal law, which is summed up, I say, in the Ten Commandments, is such that, together with universal principles of justice, many if not all these regulations are unlawful; they are themselves enforced only by criminal acts.

The Prohibition Amendment and the Volstead Act which made it operative furnish a clear illustration. The common law rights are guaranteed by laws that would punish anyone who takes unlawfully what belongs to another. Thus it is unlawful even for police authorities to put a man under arrest without either a warrant or personal immediate knowledge of a criminal act. It is therefore unlawful to search his person or his property apart from lawful arrest. Now there was no way to enforce the Volstead Act, which outlawed the possession of alcoholic beverages and also their manufacture, except by unlawful search and seizure.

If the Volstead Act was to be enforced, the authorities then had to break the law and violate the common law rights of every one. The result was an intuitive recognition by the general public of the fact that they no longer enjoyed the protection of the law (which is also known as the protection of God since it is God’s law): therefore they turned almost overnight to the protection racket — to gangsterism.
The notorious lawlessness of the Prohibition era is quite wrongly explained as the consequence of men becoming accustomed to breaking the law by buying bootleg whiskey; it was simply the collapse of the common law caused when the power of government was used unlawfully.

Attempts to outlaw the possession and sale of narcotics today present the same problem. This is no argument for permitting unlimited use of narcotics; it simply is a recognition of the very precise and serious limitations facing rightful control. Perhaps all that can be done is to follow the ancient precedent used to deal with prostitution — outlaw solicitation. Fornication itself is unlawful under the common law (based on the commandment forbidding idolatry), but raiding a house of prostitution is highly questionable. On the other hand, solicitation, or making the offer to fornicate for a price, is necessarily an open and observable act and is unlawful. So narcotics might be controlled lawfully* by outlawing offering them for sale. No one would expect by these measures to “eliminate” either prostitution or traffic in and use of narcotics; but they probably would serve the common good by keeping these things within tolerable bounds.

The operative principle is to be noticed carefully. The usual
common law rights are simply the reverse side of common law prohibitions. It is unlawful to take any of this world’s goods from a man — his person, his liberty, his family, or his goods. It is unlawful for the sheriff or the king to do so. Under the law, then, a man has a “right” to his life, his limbs, his liberty and his property simply because it is wrong to take them from him except in just punishment for breaking that same law. The law is a closed circle, a complete fence. Within it men are free and have innumerable “rights” if one wants to think of them that way. But these rights appear from the wrongs specified by the common law.

~ T. Robert Ingram,
What’s Wrong With Human Rights (free PDF available here), pp. 53-54
Of course, it should likewise be stated that, where the civil magistrate acknowledges and honors God’s law, “illegal” does not conflict with “unlawful.”

* The book’s original text reads, “So narcotics might be controlled
unlawfully by outlawing offering them for sale.” But given the context and Ingram’s line of reasoning, I think that “unlawfully” is a printing/publisher’s error, which I have taken the liberty of correcting here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"The warranty on your car is about to expire!" My letter to General Warranty Services

I was weeding out my gmail box this morning when I came across the following. I thought that someone else might be able to use it — whether against General Warranty Services, or some other persistent, nefarious, unscrupulous telemarketers — so I humbly submit it here for your consideration and free use.

From: Frank & Di [lastname] [mailto:]
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2008 7:52 PM
Subject: Do NOT call!!
Importance: High

Frank [lastname]
_____ N. 43rd Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85306

14 June 2008

General Warranty Services, Inc.
282 Main Street
Salem, New Hampshire 03079

Bill Ranney, President
Gary Roberts, V.P. Operations
Peter Skouras, Compliance Manager
Ken Spencer, I.T. Operations
Ray Thayer, Customer Support
Kevin Hurley, Sales Manager


I am having a problem with your company. A MAJOR problem.

Almost daily, I receive a phone call on my cellular phone, number 602.696.0833, from one of your nationwide army of slave telemarketers. Since I don't recognize the area code from which the call is originating, I decline the call, but they leave a recorded message anyways.

When I get around to checking my messages later, it's always the same message:
(A "courtesy call"?! That's **too rich!** And your "alert" would otherwise be really hilarious, considering that your company obviously has NO IDEA as to the status of my automobile warranties.)

Anyhow, when this whole song-and-dance first started, I simply deleted the calls.

But they kept coming.

So then I decided to try telling your nationwide army of slave telemarketers to PLEASE STOP CALLING AND REMOVE MY NUMBER FROM THEIR LIST.

I would press the necessary buttons to speak to somebody, but when I tried to tell them to PLEASE STOP CALLING AND REMOVE MY NUMBER FROM THEIR LIST, they either hung up on me, or said that they had removed me from their list — and THEN they hung up on me.

In short, I have asked to have my number removed from your call list dozens of times. BUT THE CALLS STILL KEEP COMING.

So when I received yet another call today, I finally asked the slave telemarketer the name of your company: "General Warranty Services."

When I told him that I have asked several times to have my number dropped from your list, but that I keep getting calls from his company anyways, he said "Sir, that's probably not the case, because there are dozens of companies selling extended auto warranties by phone."

And when I told him, "Gee, it's funny how every one of these companies uses the exact same recordings," he said that I had been removed from his call list and he would not call again — and he hung up on me.

(Fifty-second verse, same as the fifty-first ...)

So I Googled "General Warranty Services." As you are all likely aware, there is a firestorm of hatred and vitriol swirling about Internet telemarketer-complaint chat rooms about GWS. Here was my personal favorite:

Posted by Bill Ranney, Jr. on 23 May 2008

Hi, I'm the President of General Warranty Services, the company that's bothering you.

I'm a huge douchebag with a flimsy Product/Service that's been around for less than six months but has still garnered enough bad attention to fill posts and threads throughout the web with venom about my shady company. My business model is to have my poor employees call you constantly with no regard to "No-call lists" and requests to be removed from our sales list to try and trick you into thinking that this is your last chance to extend a warranty on a vehicle that I have no idea of the make/model/year or even if it exists.

It's likely that the person calling you has also been duped by my job ads stating they can make $700 - $1200 weekly, though there are many people like the girl who wrote this complaint about making $45 for 54 hours worked.

Whenever you receive multiple phone calls from General Warranty Services, and find yourself on the edge of losing your mind I encourage you call me, Bill Ranney at 603-685-6250 ext. 1141 as many times as my unethical company has called you and please let me have it.

P.S. I make love to children, animals and things that have died.

Now, I didn't want to simply call this "Bill Ranney" guy and unload on him, because that post could just as well have been fraudulent. (That is what is known as "being considerate of other people." You really should try it.)

So after Googling GWS/Bill Ranney a little more, I learned that Virtual Sun, LLC had designed a website for General Warranty Services — and Virtual Sun's home page actually has an audio-recorded testimonial from a "Bill Ranney" of "General Warranty Services"!

So I finally just Googled "General Warranty Services" — and bingo, I found your website!

To cut to the chase, I found your website's "DO NOT CALL" PHONE NUMBER field, entered my phone number (602.696.0833) and clicked "Submit" -- and GUESS WHAT?


"The number: '6026960833', already exists in our do not call database"


No, I really don't care what the answer is!







I will be sending a copy of this letter to the office of the New Hampshire Attorney General, and I will be calling them at my first opportunity Monday morning to file a formal complaint against GWS.

Lastly, I am now keeping a log of all calls received from your nationwide army of slave telemarketers. (I found a handy "Do Not Call" log form at the NH AG's website!)

An acknowledgment of receipt of this e-mail and a statement of intent to immediately address my complaint would be greatly appreciated — and might, in fact, serve to assuage the anger I currently have toward GWS by the time I call the NH AG's office.

Very truly yours,
Frank [lastname]

cc: Kelly A. Ayotte, Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire

I sent that email on a Saturday, and received the following reply Monday morning:

Subject: RE: Do NOT call!!
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 14:29:52 -0400

Frank [lastname]
Glendale, AZ 85306

GWS - Mr. Frank [lastname] -000164

Dear Mr. Frank [lastname],

In response to your request for written reply to the above captioned reference number. Your name has been removed from our Telemarketing Program. In addition, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or aggravation we may have caused you. We gladly send you this sincere written apology per your request. However, at this time, it is certainly not our intention to inconvenience or aggravate you any further.

Upon receipt of this letter could you please respond with your telephone number or numbers so we could absolutely confirm the complete removal of your entire information from our telemarketing program?

Also as a preventive nuisance practice, we do in fact "scrub" all of our outgoing telephone lists with State Do Not Call Lists and the National Do Not Call List so to remove any number from our outgoing call list that appears on the National DNC. As of January 3, 2008 we hired an independent company called Protus, Inc., who among other business practices specializes in such "scrubbing" procedures regarding the National DNC and as a result our current complaints are nearly non-existent.

As you may or may not be aware, there are at least twenty-two other companies nationwide with over two hundred call center under their direction conducting nearly the same business as General Warranty Services, Inc. GWS is one company with merely one call center under its direction. Therefore, it is at least possible that other similar warranty companies have called and will continue to call you or any other resident who is a member of the National DNC List. Obviously, we have no control of other companies using unethical or suspect business practices.

Also, GWS has a strict policy never to call residents of any state until the passage of at least thirty-one (31) days from the day we issue a campaign in that specific state. Therefore, it is probable that other warranty companies are responsible for at least some of the calls that you allege we made to you. In any event, your name has definitely been removed from our telemarketing program and once you inform us of your telephone number as requested above, you will NOT receive any further calls from GWS. However, as we previously stated, we have no control over any of the other similar warranty companies that may continue to call you.

Furthermore, General Warranty Services, Inc. does not condone any type of predatory practices and we continually remind our employees via daily employee meetings and weekly written memos of our policy regarding consumers requesting to be removed from our call list. General Warranty Services, Inc. has developed an easy and simplistic system for all of our employees to immediately remove consumers from our call list upon their request. At the bottom left on our home page @ www. is a selection box where the consumer's telephone number is typed in and immediately removed.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me directly at the telephone number, e-mail or address listed below.


Peter G. Skouras
Compliance Department
General Warranty Services, Inc.
282 Main Street
Salem, NH 03079
(603) 685-6156

Closing notes and observations:
  • Those courtesy [sic] calls alerting me that my car's warranty was about to expire originated from a variety of area codes around the US. I wonder if GWS has subcontracted work out to non-GWS call centers who sell GWS's "service"? That way they can plausibly claim that their own (GWS) call centers adhere to a strict code of telemarketing ethics, while avoiding having to address the ethics of other call centers who still sell for GWS.
  • Regardless, after my email to GWS, all such calls immediately ceased.
  • Although I signed the national "Do Not Call" Registry shortly after moving to Spokane in August 2008 (despite advice to the contrary from Lew Rockwell), we still receive unsolicited calls from what appear on our Caller ID screen to be telemarketing firms. I either don't answer them, or I occasionally pick up the phone and hit the "O" (operator) key, which sometimes puts your number on their "Do Not Call" list.
Then of course, if you are mentally prepared and think you can pull it off with a straight face, there's always this approach [NB: some adult language].

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seven years of commercial-free, non-stop album rock!

I’m definitely no expert on radio or rock & roll. But I knows what I likes when I hears it ... and I likes KCDX 103.1 FM out of Florence, AZ!

Everyone knows that the playlists of most “classic rock” stations these days are gettin’ pretty tired: Zeppelin ... Floyd ... Stones ... Aerosmith ... repeat.

Well boomer-era rockers, point your browsers at KCDX’s “Listen Online” link and get ready to hear songs you haven’t heard since phones had dials.

I first read about KCDX in a September 2003 Phoenix New Times article called “Ghost Radio.” Sounded cool ... way cool! Problem was, the station is situated in the Sonoran desert between Phoenix and Tucson, and their low-power signal just plain didn’t reach up into my neck of the Valley.

I don’t know if they were streaming their audio online back then, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway — I didn’t have a suitable internet hookup or computer. So KCDX fell off my radar.

Then one day about a year later — when we finally had high-speed internet and a newer Mac — I was working at the computer, and suddenly recalled that magical mystery transmitter I once read about. After a quick Google search ... BAM, I was receivin’!

KCDX boasts a repertoire that’s so classic it’s fresh ... no commercials or DJs ... and of course, an online playlist (to help you recall the songs and artists when those “senior moments” hit you) ...

So what are you waiting for, rock & roll fan? Go forth and check it out ... now!

(In addition to the original New Times story above, you can also read about Ted Tucker, KCDX’s reclusive owner/manager/disc-jockey here.)