[amsat-bb] Re: Life Membership

Jonathan Guthrie ka8kpn at brokersys.com
Sun Jan 17 13:50:31 PST 2010

Clint Bradford wrote:
>>> ... my $50 membership thirty years ago is worth $1,000,000 in 2010 dollars ...
> All moot, of course. Your fifty bucks contributed years ago was exactly that - and nothing else - period. It was used back then - and any comparison to what it is worth today is valueless.
> "What have you done for AMSAT recently?" - is a much more appropriate discussion.

I mean you no offense, but you miss the point completely.

Of course, it is impossible to say with certainty what would have
happened, it is pretty clear to me that without some very early members
who thought well enough of the organization to contribute the additional
money required to gain a life membership it is entirely possible, likely
even, that AMSAT is a going entity wouldn't exist.  Raising funds for a
new organization, one without any track record, with lofty goals is hard
enough in the best of times, and it becomes impossible without some sort
of seed money, and seed money is always in short supply.

With that in mind, I believe that, when put to an early life member, it
is entirely reasonable to respond to your question "What have you done
for AMSAT recently" with "I have made it possible for you to make your
contribution."  I am not saying this to diminish your contributions
(which I admit entirely put mine to shame) but to put them in
perspective.  It is a far different thing to help get something like
AMSAT off the ground, and activity something I have some experience
with, than it is to contribute to AMSAT with it's rich 40 year history. 
  That makes early contributions worth far more than their absolute
value even in constant dollars.

When put to someone who bought his or her life membership much later, it
is entirely appropriate to respond that purchasing a life membership
gains an organization more money than buying an annual membership.  It
is appropriate because it is entirely true.  Organizations do not offer
lifetime memberships because certain of their members are so cheap they 
insist upon it.  Instead, they offer them because it makes a great deal 
of business sense for them to do so.  Not only do you lose the 
nontrivial administrative costs of billing and processing a payment 
every year, but you also gain positives like a predictable circulation 
for your newsletter (always good for selling ads) and the ability to 
invest the money, which you can't do with what you get from annual 

As far as the AUP goes, I have viewed this whole debate as something 
like a teapot-sized tempest.  I read the AUP when it was first 
announced, and my perspective was probably a little bit different than 
most readers because in the 1990's I had a chance to draft a similar 
policy for an organization I was part of.  That was an interesting 
experience in figuring out how to do the most good for the most people. 
  I think AMSAT did a pretty good job with what they came up with.  The 
guidelines are mostly positive ("here's what we want to see") and the 
things that are forbidden are those that are, in my opinion, frankly 
indefensible.  You can still talk smack about the BoD and complain that 
AMSAT's efforts are wrongly directed just like you've been able to since 
whenever this thing started.  I can't imagine that the BoD thinks the 
AUP will protect them from harsh criticism.  Instead, I think they're 
hoping to make amsat-bb more useful and, with some luck, less embarrassing.

The thing is, you can still get into battles with those who tend to get 
under your skin, and you know who they are, and your best bet for 
dealing with those people will be, as it has always been, to let them 
have their say and ignore them the best you can.  My rule is, "Don't 
repeat yourself."  If you don't have anything new to add to an 
discussion, then remaining silent is always good and nobody sees that as 
agreement.  Of course, thanks to Usenet, I have a very powerful ignore 
reflex, so it may not be possible for everyone to take that advice.

It will remain to be seen if the moderators have the courage to do their 
job well.  I've also done that, and it's harder than you think.

That's juts one opinion, worth what you paid for it.


More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list