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Posts published in “Day: December 1, 2009”

The unreal

The manila envelope arrived with a Salem, Oregon, return address, but no personal or organizational name. Look up the address (3421 Del Webb Ave. NE, Salem) and turns up as a BedMart Mattress Superstore. The simple, one-page letter inside has the letterhead of "Leuthold Dairy Farm." So we have a little dissonance before we even get to the letter.

And a little more when you look up the BedMart corporate site and find out there's no current BedMart at that location. It turns out to be an empty building, being used by . . . a political campaign.

Which one is indicated by what the letter says at the bottom: "I worked with Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes to share my thoughts with you in this letter." Ah! So this isn't really a letter from a dairy farmer who's so up against the wall that a small percentage increase in state taxes would threaten to put he out of business (which is what the tenor of the letter suggests, but which it never comes out to say). It comes from a PAC. Which doesn't really want to advertise its presence.

The letter (ours arrived today) is one of the shots being fired in the battle over Oregon Measures 66 and 67, which concern increases in personal (at higher levels) and corporate (depending on legal structure) income taxes.

The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes has out two pieces about the letter, one about its intentionally nondescript appearance (nothing fancy, and no logos anywhere) and very soft-pedaled approach to acknowledged what's going on here.

Advertising gurus have for some time called this the "age of skepticism," that people need stronger convincers and fewer discordant notes if they're to be persuaded. The letter contains a number of economically questionable (at best) assertions (the main subject of Mapes' other piece out today). Letters like this one go back a long way; but you'd think people would start questioning some of this before they even get that far.