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RE: Disc: Pay-to-Fight <LONG>

Poster: hfeld@ids2.idsonline.com (Harold Feld)

At 12:28 PM 7/5/96, Gregory Stapleton wrote:
Unto all who read these words, greetings from Yaakov:

>Poster: Gregory Stapleton <gregsta@MICROSOFT.com>
>So, the "real" issue we are dealing with is, as I perceive it, whether
>or not one should have to pay in order to be a member of the Society and
>play our game.  In my opinion, I proclaim a resounding "Yes."  Let me
>explain why:

I fear I must take issue with you on this matter.  For myself, I give a
resounding "no!" As I shall explain below.

>Let's take, as a given, the following statement:  Money is needed to run
>the organization.

But we have not yet proven that the Board of Directors is a necessary
organization.  Many believe otherwise, and have argued well for this
premis.  I and others have pointed out that many organizations with similar
cultural characteristics (Sceince Fiction fandom, Folk Dancing,
Storytelling) manage without a large central structure.

>My personal beliefs.  I am strongly Jeffersonian.  I would guess that
>the board is strongly Hamiltonian.  Simplistically, the differences are:
>Local vs Centralized power.

I find it odd that a Jeffersonian would hold with a coercive rule that
values monatary contribution to the center as a pre-condition for
contributing service locally.  Hopefully, when I have disproved your points
below, I shall persuade you of the correctness of your philosophy
(Jeffersonian) and the error of your application (supporting pay-to-fight).

>I would like to see a $20.00 membership fee applied to everyone across
>the board.  $15.00 going to the local Kingdom and $5.00 going to the BOD
>to do those things neccessary for an international organization.

Of course, there is a difficulty.  Whether this *should* be the way things
work is entirely separate from the fact that, at the moment, they simply do
not work this way.  At present, the Board gets the whole membership fee,
then kicks back a postal subsidy to the kingdoms for their newsletters.

>believe that anyone taking advantage of all of the wonderful things that
>our Society has to offer should contribute to its well-being and general
>upkeep.  Put away 50-cents a week for a year and you'll have enough
>money to pay your membership and still attend a movie. :)

Again, however, you have failed to specify what "wonderful things" the
national corporation provides.  The kingdom newsletter?  If it were
permissible to run these by direct subsription rather than membership, the
kingdom could budget the newsletter more effectively and provide service to
all who voluntarily want it.  Liability insurance?  During the great BoD
crisis, both Ansteora and Calontir investigated getting their own
insurance.  It is not as difficult as some believe.  Furthermore, a  number
of insurance experts have stated that it is probably cheaper to get
insurance by state, rather than an overall international coverage (because
insurance by state deals with one set of laws, whereas insurance for
international coverage must address all combinations of laws.

Events?  We make these.  Tax exempt status?  I have helped organize two tax
exempts in the last year.  You fill out the forms, pay your fee, and get a
number.  Anyone who can wade through a heraldic submission can do it.

So, what benefits do we derive from the national corporation that justify a
mandatory subsidy?

>Now I know people will say: What about the poor college student /
>migrant worker / insert-your-favorite-whatever here.  We could deal with
>that.  There are numerous ways:  X amount of Kingdom money could be set
>aside to pay for X number of memberships for people who were poor,
>collections could be taken up to provide for memberships of poor people
>on a local, baronial and kingdom level, etc.  And, in order for these
>people to have self-respect and not feel they were a burden on the
>Society, they could perform some service, such as spending a day in the
>kitchen at some event during the year to "work" for  their membership.
>Believe me, I know that there are hundreds of other ways to handle this.
> I'm just giving an example to show that it could be done.

Perhaps the situation seems hypothetical to you.  It is not to me. My wife
lost her job in February and has been out of work since.  We have had to
vigorously cut our expenses.  $70  can make the difference between eating
and not eating in a given week.  (and, for those who compare the expense of
playing v. membership, I point out I already *have* my kit.  The membership
fee must be balanced against current income and savings, not what I have
acquired in a half a dozen years of playing the game.)  I have known people
on welfare who can play because they work at events for their fee.

I do not think the "exceptioonal" cases are so rare they do not beg

>It is not WRONG to require a membership fee for the services you
>receive.  Whether you like it or not, every event you attend, you
>receive a service from the Society.  The most obvious is the Insurance.
>Without it, most of the sites we use for our events would be made
>unavailable to us as they require proof of Insurance before they will
>let us occupy the site.  Could the Kingdom get insurance locally to
>cover us?  Sure.  That would be fine, even wonderful, if we adopted a
>Jeffersonian system as I describe above.  Until we do, we have to live
>within the reality that we currently inhabit.

I have above discussed the concept of what benefits we derive.  I further
point out a flaw in your reasoning.  The corproation has created the
situation of centralized controls.  the Board, and the Board alone, is
capable of authrixzing investigating and implementing alternatives.  How do
we move to this Jeffersonian system?

>Every club I've ever belonged to, recent examples being Starfleet, the
>local Gem and Mineral Club and the local Archaeological Club, have
>required membership fees in order to belong.  It only makes sense to pay
>your way if you want to play.

Ah.  Join Voices in the Glen, the DC area storytelling group, which is part
of the Atlantic Storytelling Federation.  You only pay if you want the

Further, I point that "pay-to-play" is a misnomer.  When I attend an event,
I "pay-to-play" with my site fee.  The site fee pays for all the direct
benefits I experience at the event.  It could pay for insurance as well, if
it were permitted for kingdoms to explore such alternatives.

>The undertone that I feel, and I'm probably going to open my own can of
>worms here, is that people still don't want to send their money to the
>"Big, Bad BOD"(TM).

Actually, I object for the following reasons:
1) A general dislike of coercion and coercive policies.
2) A sense that I don't *get* anything for my $35 other than services which
could be supplied locally, if the Board permitted the kingdoms to supply
them directly.
3) A strong feeling that mandatory membership cheapens us all by devaluing
contributions of labor and lauding contributions of money.
4) A feeling of shame that we behave in so mean-spirited a fashion when we
should strive towards generousity.
5) The poisonus effect (3) and (4) have on the Society as a whole, teaching
us to despise the poor as "freeloaders" and disdain those who voluntarily
contribute, or who come to us for education, because they cannot or will
not pay $35 to some distant authority in Milpitas that fails to give good
return for the dollar.
(6) Oh yes, and I think the BoD has too much money to play with and it
leads them into folly.

>Believe me, I'm not at all happy about a lot of the
>stuff that has happened over the last four years.  I'm somewhat incensed
>over some recent BOD maneuvers.  I would like to see alot of changes
>(see above).  There have been some changes to the good, admittedly, but
>as far as the "Big, Bad BOD"(TM) is concerned, GET OVER IT!  The
>Society, We The People, are what's important.  The unfortunate reality
>is:  It takes money to keep our Society going, under its current

Yes. Which is a reason to withold the money.  It forces the structure to change.

I agree with you one hundred percent that "We the people are what's
important."  That is why I oppose mandatory membership requirements for any
activity.  It cheapens this cherished principle.  It makes the BoD (which
needs the money) more important than the people.

>The BOD has perceived a fairly steady source of income coming from the
>fighters, officers and royalty.  So, for all practical purposes, these
>folk pay the taxes in order to keep the Society going.  Now, admittedly,
>there are many other people other than these who are members and pay the
>membership fee. ONLY the fighters, officers and royalty are REQUIRED to
>pay (and if I've left any out who are required to pay, assume them added
>in), therefore bearing the greatest burden within the Society.  (The 4th
>of July gets me going.  I think I watched too much of the History
>Channel, yesterday. :))

It seems to me that your entire justification is: The Board needs money,
therefore they should tax people and make them pay it.  While I accept this
philosphy from Governments (who, after all, have guns to back it up), I see
no reason to accept it from the Board.

>Therefore, I would like to see it balanced more evenly, and allow
>everyone to pay their fair share.  Of course, one other way of doing
>this, would be the so-called "BOD Tax".  We could call it an Event tax.
>An example of this would be the following:  Event fee + Event tax =
>Total Event Cost.  For example, if we charged a $5.00 event tax on every
>event, and you went to one event that year, you would pay the Event fee
>plus $5.00 for the services of the Society for that year.  If you went
>to 25 events, you would pay $125.00 for the services of the Society for
>the year.  Of course, we could also put a cap on this.  Say, after
>attending 10 events and having your membership card punched 10 times,
>you wouldn't have to pay any further Event Taxes, or some such.  There
>are hundreds of ways of working this.

Again, such a proposal is only warranted if the expenditures of the Board
are justified.  A point you have not yet proved.

>I know all of this isn't going to quell this discussion, but I do hope
>it gives you something to think on.

As I hope I have given you something to think on as well.

In the West they have a sayin: "All subjects of the king are equal."  I
consider it a great shame that this is not true in Atlantia, where only
those who tithe to Milpitas are entitled to participate fully.

Harold Feld
Yaakov HaMizrachi

"Do not ask 'Why are these days not as good as the days of old?' This
question is not prompted by wisdom." -Eccl.

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