'I Was a High-Tech Sweatshop Worker for the Obama Campaign!'

Sorta: the guy actually is a pieceworker for an internet site called ChaCha Search Inc. that the Obama campaign happened to hire to expedite searches. Via Internet Scofflaw, Dan Mage of Reason tells the sorry tale:

The Obama campaign’s use of ChaCha was simple and brilliant. Messages would go out advising customers to vote early for Obama and to text back the keyword OBAMA for more information. That would direct them to pro-Obama websites such as VoteForChange.com. If the keyword failed to trigger the automatic response, an expeditor like me would route it to a guide.

Here’s the question: Did Obama have personal knowledge of ChaCha’s employment practices? His campaign’s use of the company was certainly no secret. ChaCha proudly displays an article on its website from USA Today describing their partnership—though the article makes no mention of the compensation received by expeditors and guides.


Does Obama’s relationship with ChaCha matter? Consider his own words, first spoken during a March 2008 campaign appearance in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and later incorporated into his campaign infomercial (transcribed here by Time‘s Mark Halperin): “If they’re able and willing to work, they should be able to find a job that pays a living wage.” Obama also favors raising the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2011. But despite all of that lofty talk, his campaign still employed ChaCha’s high-tech sweatshop labor.

On the one hand, this actually is yet another example of the current administration saying one thing, and doing another; on the other hand, I really do hope that nobody’s actually surprised at this point (although I will happily encourage the production of shame, embarrassment, mortification, and/or disillusionment). On the gripping hand, this entire system has got to be the lamest way to make $2.87 an hour that I have ever heard of. Sufficiently so that I have to wonder why the author is really participating in it.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.