The Price of Liberty: Is ABATE Ready to Pay the Price?
The strength of our brotherhood against totalitarian enactments lies within the activism of the membership. We pride ourselves in successfully working the legislature in person and never hiring a paid lobbyist. Our success rests upon our ability to maintain an educated membership; a membership educated in the ways to directly impact the legislative process. Thomas Jefferson clearly states the importance of education with this statement: "Educate the people generally, and tyranny and injustice will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."
While our chosen method is more effective and less expensive than hiring a professional lobbyist, our method of operation still entails unavoidable expenses. I would suggest such expenses may include our newsletter, web site, rallies at the statehouse steps, lobbying efforts, and administrative expenses such as mailing membership cards. It occurs to me that it may also be important to network with other State Motorcycle Rights Organizations and educate our officers at national motorcycle rights conventions such as the MRF's Meeting of the Minds, NCOM's Convention, and SoLR's TEA Party. Other expenses many members seemingly embrace are the state party, and patches for those who lobby the legislature on special occasions.
I would suggest printing and mailing an informative newsletter is an unavoidable expense. The newsletter seems to be a valuable tool for informing and educating members of our grassroots movement; the newsletter alerts many of our members to good and bad bills before the legislature. Often the mainstream media ignores or skews the truth about legislation in our general assembly. Our newsletter sells ads to help offset expenses however few of our members are helping to sell the ads and as such the revenue of these ads is low.
Our web site seems to be another example of a worthy expense. The web site provides faster updates than possible with a printed newsletter. Pictures of events and calls for action are often posted on our web site. Coupled with our web site is an ezine list that is currently NOT funded by our organization; the ezine is our fastest means of communication to issue calls to action to oppose bad legislation or take other worthy actions.
Our two annual rallies at the statehouse steps are gaining more notice form our legislators who are now lining up to come speak to our members. These events are not great expenses but they do cost money to organize and execute. These events are related to our lobbying efforts. Lobbying also entails expenses. Five percent of our members have been doing all the work at the statehouse at their own expense but we also have letter writing efforts at the Helmet Rally in October. The letter writing while effective is not cheap in manpower or postage as each letter costs nearly $.50 each when postage and materials are summed.
During the past legislative session many attempts were made to alert the membership though phone trees; sadly these attempts barely scratched the surface of our membership numbers. Did you receive calls alerting you of the need to attend the emergency lobby days? If not you are now aware there is a problem. Our success in the statehouse is directly related to the number of members we can motivate and pack the senate and house galleries during our legislative session. Recently a service called “Calling Post” was proposed to be used to reach ALL members who wished to opt-in. The proposal failed because of a lack of funding; the service is cheap as it would only cost $200 to call every member when a legislative alert is issued.
Administrative costs are seemingly unavoidable in all organizations; we incur these costs for instance printing and mailing membership cards. Other seemingly dull and tedious tasks and chores must also be accomplished by our organization that adds up over time. No one ever say freedom is free but the alternative choice is not an option.
Our friends just to the south in ABATE of GA currently charge dues of $25 for a single member or $40 for a couple. One of our members has proposed an increase in our dues to $30 for single members and $40 for couples; the proposal further states additional members at the same address would cost $10 each beyond a couple (3 memberships at one address would cost a total of $50 or 4 would cost $60). While this may not be the only solution to our current fiscal crisis it is one to ponder.
Others have suggested that each chapter could conduct a yearly benefit run to help fund the state organization's mission; this proposal has many detractors and seems unlikely at the time of this writing. Yet another suggested each area could hold one fundraiser each year to help fund our state organization; I would suggest this may also be a difficult to swallow by much of the membership. No one is suggesting reducing services such as our newsletter or web site.
The issue of funding will be raised during our next state meeting on July 10 th ; please contact your area coordinator with your own suggestions for improving our organization. It seems to me it would be wise to improve our funding promptly.
Fast Fred Ruddock – ABATE of SC State Coordinator
21 May 2004