Columns

2010.08.11 Annoyed by noise? Would a big check make you feel better?

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Eastern Oregon is one of the fastest-growing wind power regions in the country, according to a recent New York Times article. Some residents are not happy with the proposed and already operating wind farms, while others are being paid not to criticize.

Some residents complain that the “constant whooshing from the turbines makes them anxious and that the low-level vibrations keep them awake at night. Many other residents say they hear little or nothing at all, and the question of whether windmill noise can harm health is in dispute.”

Many residents in favor of the wind farms claim that those against them are just mad because they weren’t able to lease their land to the wind power developers. One developer of a new project is trying to use money to nip complaints in the bud.

Caithness Energy, a New York company, is planning an Oregon project that is scheduled to go online in 2013. The new farm will be one of the biggest in the country, containing 338 wind turbines. To cut down on resistance from area residents, Caithness is paying $5,000 to those willing to sign a waiver promising they will not complain about excessive noise. 

Many area residents were quick to grab the offer. “It was about as easy as easy money can get,” said one 84-year-old farmer. Others aren’t so quick to sign away their rights. Caithness isn’t releasing numbers of waivers signed as of yet, probably because they still have a couple of years to sign up more residents before the project is finished.

This whole idea of being paid not to complain has got me thinking. Why can’t I get paid by people who bother me? For instance, there’s an ice cream truck that often comes through my neighborhood, playing some obnoxious song. If I’m forced to listen to its horrible music, why can’t they give me free ice cream for my trouble?

Or how about the sponsors of annoying television commercials paying us to sit through them? Like for instance, Honda’s ads featuring “Mr. Opportunity,” that obnoxious cartoon character who keeps knocking on the inside of the television screen to get our attention? That ought to be worth at least $10 every time it is broadcast.

And I want at least $20  every time an ad comes on for “The Joy Behar Show,” And if she’s talking about sex (which she almost always is), make it $50.

I’d also like a similar arrangement for Will Farrell. Any time he shows up on television, I want $20. If he’s not wearing pants, make it $50. And if he’s doing that creepy leprechaun act, I want $100, at least.

And then there’s Steve Carell. You can’t hardly turn on the television without seeing his mug on one of several stations that carry “The Office” ads for the show, or ads for movies he’s starring in, which seem to come out once a month. Does anybody really like this guy? Because of the quantity of his appearances, I’m willing, against my better judgment, to give him a break. Pay me a flat $10 for every appearance, and I’ll make it up on volume. 

And telemarketers, I’m saving you for last. The folks at Verizon are lucky I just now thought of this idea because, year round, they were the all-time telemarketer offenders. Now that they’ve turned over my phone service to Frontier, I’ve been free of phone calls about my phone service. I hope it keeps up. Frontier, consider yourself warned.

That leaves Discover as my current biggest telemarketing pain. How about a $20 credit on my bill every time you call? And if you’re late on applying the credit, I’d think a $40 late fee and 25% interest charge would be fair, don’t you?

And then there’s politicians. Unlike Michigan, where everybody and his brother seemed to be on last week’s ballot, Ohio residents weren’t bombarded by calls...yet I’m sure there will be an onslaught started in October. How about a special deal for you? For every unsolicited call I receive, I’m that much less likely to vote for you. Does that have your attention?

Now if I can just get everyone to agree to my proposals, the money should start rolling in. And if anyone wants to build a wind farm nearby, I’ll be happy to take your $5,000.

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