July 13, 2005 12:09 AM

I now spend 5 hours a day canvassing for Environmental Action, a financially questionable non-profit that's campaigning to reduce mercury pollution. I have mixed feelings about being a cog in a propoganda machine -- and it is one, not because what we push is necessarily untrue, but because we deliver 2-minute, one-level-deep, one-sided politics door to door, which is, in all fairness, the only kind of politics you can take door to door. My other four hours on the job is spent trying to get me psyched for the work (which I never really am), fine-tuning my social engineering skills, and riding out to the places we canvass.

Unfortunately, for two of the three nights I've worked so far I've been below my daily fundraising quota of $95, which basically means I may not get paid for 18 of the 27 hours I've devoted so far to this organization. I don't know how legitimate this kind of commission-based pay scheme is, and I think I'll have to find out. Also, I have some personal integrity issues with the group -- I honestly can't vouch for the legitimacy of the organization beyond a few local newspaper articles, a few pamphlets, and a shallow website. I also question their financial effectiveness -- I know for a fact that for the first $95 I bring in, over $50 of that goes to my pay, not the organization, which is to say that many of the contributors' dollars early in the evening don't actually make it to lobbying and all that good stuff that we allegedly do. And my calculations don't include any additional operating costs the group undoubtedly has (literature, office and car rent, administrative costs, etc.).

The actual work, however, isn't as bad as I might suggest it to be -- really it's just talking and walking -- but it's definitely not something I'm too excited about either. I'm looking into the more relaxing on-the-beach pen-drawn portrait industry, $10 a head, where I don't have to repeat commission-incentive opinions.