My letter to my representatives in the Senate

Subject: Reducing consumption of fuels, reducing emissions.
Dear Senator ______,

Please forgive me for not writing a “formal” letter, but I want to get right to the problem.


  1. Americans are using too much gasoline.
  2. Fuel costs make up an increasingly large proportion of Americans’ salaries.
  3. Americans are spewing pollutants into the atmosphere causing health and environmental problems.
  4. Americans are wasting untold hours sitting in traffic.
  5. Run-off from our roads is poisoning our waters.

We need to make use of the technology this country is famous for in order to resolve these problems. More and more Americans work in computer-related jobs. Most of those jobs can probably be done remotely. If more use were made of telecommunication technology we would save millions of dollars in fuel costs, vehicle maintenance expenditures, and infrastructure maintenance. The reduction in the number of vehicles on the roadways would ease congestion, allowing those people who are unable to work remotely to travel more efficiently, saving them money and time. Businesses would save money by being able to rent smaller offices and by reducing their energy needs. Even stress-related illnesses would be reduced. Fewer pollutants would get into our air and water. People could live in one part of the country and work in another, resulting in a greater sense of freedom and a higher quality of life.

In short, “telecommuting” makes sense for individuals, businesses, the environment and the country.

But businesses do not want to embrace telecommunications technology. They seem to have an “if I can’t see you, you’re not working” mentality. They ignore the evidence that indicates that people who work from home offices often work longer hours than those who work in a traditional office do. In a time when every dollar counts, American businesses spend billions on infrastructure that really isn’t needed in the modern world.

As my elected representative, I would like you to see what you can do to change the current state of affairs. I propose that businesses be given incentives so that those employees who can work remotely are encouraged to let their employees do so. American businesses are very slow to change. They need a shove now and then to get them moving into the future. A national telecommuting plan would:

  1. Save Americans millions or billions of dollars in fuel costs;
  2. Save Americans millions of dollars in automobile maintenance;
  3. Reduce the cost of automobile insurance by reducing exposure;
  4. Reduce the amount of pollutants entering our air and water;
  5. Reduce health care costs by making the environment less unhealthy;
  6. Reduce health care costs by reducing the number of collisions on our roadways;
  7. Reduce the amount of traffic on the roadways allowing road-bound commuters to run their vehicles more efficiently, thus saving fuel and money as well as reducing the impact on the environment;
  8. Save the states and Federal government millions of dollars on road, bridge and other infrastructure maintenance;
  9. Save businesses millions or billions of dollars in office expenses, building construction and/or rental, and infrastructure
  10. Allow Americans to spend more money supporting our economy instead of spending it on gasoline.

With America on the verge of war, this proposal may seem like a small matter. But reducing our dependence on foreign oil seems like the patriotic thing to do. I hope you will make an effort to sponsor a national telecommuting plan.


[my name]

And here’s the reply:

Erm… It doesn’t actually say anything about a national telecommuting plan. :dubious:

To be a complete bastard, I will point out that your Representatives are in the House of Representatives, and the people in the Senate are your Senators.

Also, I take issue with:

One “supports” the economy by doing pretty much anything with his money. If you stick it in the bank, you support those things that the bank invests in. If you buy furbies, you support the furby market. And if you buy gasoline, you’re supporting the gas market. Those are all perfectly legitimate parts of The Economy.

friedo: She is my representative to the Senate. That is, she represents the interests of her constituents in that house; she doesn’t senate them.

As for #10, you are correct; but buying gasoline is a cost of living rather than what we normally think of as a consumer item.

I dunno, I think gasoline gives my martinis a nice kick.

Wow. I can’t believe you got back a response that has NOTHING to do with the letter you sent.

By the way, I really like what you put together.

Kind of funny, though, that I would read about this while surfing the internet on the company dime. :slight_smile:

Thanks, scout1222.

I’m embarassed to discover that I did make a mistake in my letter, saying that “employees should let employees telecommute”. :o Oh, well; I think the gist of it comes across.

There’s an ulterior motive, of course, as I’m trying to buy a house in Washington but I like my job (and the paycheque). But I really do believe that telecommuting makes sense. I got the ball rolling on the elimination of paper in our department last year. Part of my efforts were to save resources since we’d have about 50 pounds of paper delivered each day from another city. I showed how the reports we needed could be read online (I had Programming make a change that wrote one of the reports to a dataset instead of the printer – the other reports were already online). The other motive was that if we had no paper printouts, then we didn’t need to be where the paper had to be delivered.

What prompted the letter is the increase in the cost of gasoline. It’s costing me about $200/month just to go to work. And then there’s the wasted time of sitting on the freeway. Ever been on the freeway when everyone else has a holiday? Nice, isn’t it? I refuelled after work today. I hit 25.6 mpg on the econo-meter in my Cherokee. Then I hit the traffic by LAX. By the time I made it the remaining four miles home, my average mileage was down to 24.5 mpg. Stop-and-go traffic really takes a toll. A reduction of cars really would improve mileage and reduce expenses for everyone. And I sure wouldn’t mind another couple-hundred bucks a month to spend on toys! (And I could pay $400/month on a mortgage in Washington instead of $755/month on my apartment. Save even more!)

What it comes down to is this: If you get your work done, then it doesn’t matter where you are. If you work from home and do a lousy job, then you get sacked. But if you work from home and take it seriously, then everybody wins.

And of course I wouldn’t be interrupted constantly by people wanting me to solve their problems. I could deal with them via e-mail. The job would get done, and I could get more work done to boot.

One of my co-workers in another department is buying a house in Arizona. She’ll work from home three weeks out of the month and come into the office one week per month. Not ideal, but it’s a start. Would that our department would allow that! (Except for the coming back for a week every month. That’s why all of our conference rooms are set up for teleconferencing!)

So yeah, I have selfish reasons for wanting to telecommute; but realistically there is no reason not to.

As I’m finding out with my own communications with my representative, I’d call them, tell them the mix-up. Ask to speak with your rep directly, and when the secretary lady wants to know why, tell her briefly, and that you wrote and the letter you recieved had nothing to do with your letter.
Make sure you emphasis that you are one her constituents, and your are not satisfied so far.

As a victim of the recent downsizing efforts of the telecommunications industry I think this is a great idea. Would you have any objection if I (or any other interested people) sent this letter to our own representatives?

I’ve often been tempted to write to my Congresspeople, but the process has always struck me as fairly pointless since I don’t represent a big-money lobbying groups. I felt like it wasn’t worth my time to mail something that a staffer could glance over and send me a form letter back thanking me for sharing my views. Now obviously they don’t have time to read all the mail they get, but do they even read weekly or even monthly tally sheets that would say something like “x # of people are for war in Iraq, y are against war in Iraq, a oppose the president’s budget, etc.” ?

Am I right to be that cynical?

Go for it. Just change “I propose that businesses be given incentives so that those employees who can work remotely are encouraged to let their employees do so” to “I propose that businesses whose employees who can work remotely are encouraged to let them do so.” Just to avoid any confusion. My single letter to a couple of representatives won’t have much effect; but if senators and representatives all over the country were to get such letters, there is a shade of a possibility that someone will take notice.

Another benefit of a national telecommuting plan would be the development of better telecommunications systems. This would not only benefit telecommuters, but also vitually anyone who uses telecom.