QUERY Income based membership dues

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Richard Stevenson <rstevenson
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Richard Stevenson <rstevenson »

Posted by Richard Stevenson <rstevenson@valculus.com>

I have just received my SDS membership renewal advice.

I really cannot think of any more potent way to destroy the SDS
than an ""Income-based"" subscription.

I can see that this might be attractive to a student, in India
for example. But I have huge difficulty in the very idea of declaring
my income to the SDS. It is none of the SDS' business.

Until this absurd idea is retracted, I will not be renewing. Am I alone
in this?

Richard Stevenson
Valculus Ltd
Posted by Richard Stevenson <rstevenson@valculus.com>
posting date Thu, 6 Dec 2007 17:10:41 +0000
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Becky Waring <becky@waring.or
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Becky Waring <becky@waring.or »

Posted by Becky Waring <becky@waring.org>

While I can sympathize with Richard's knee-jerk reaction to being asked for
his income level, I do see the need for it, and don't think it's a big deal.
You can in effect pay whatever you want, and it won't be public information.
I would assume most professionals in the developed world would pay the
maximum $150, and students/third world members would be the main
beneficiaries, as they should be. I have been impressed by the globalization
of the SD community over the years and hope that this new structure
increases its reach and penetration. (As all those crying about the ""death""
of SD should also hope...)

In a quick Web search, I found a good dozen other professional societies
with income-based membership tiers, including the American Economic Society,
American Sociological Society and American Anthropological Society,
organizations which presumably put serious thought into this progressive
system from both the structural and individual compliance viewpoints.

I'm sure there are many more, but I stopped looking after 12...So it not as
if we are doing something new and different out of the blue. This is an
accepted practice, for better or worse. Even many YMCAs use it, requiring a
tax return as proof.

http://www.ajsnet.org/membership.htm
http://www.asanet.org/cs/root/leftnav/j ... membership
http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/annual/call.htm
http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AEA/membership.htm
http://www.ncis.org/membersh.htm
https://www.sws.org/sws/membership/step1.mgi
http://www.aaanet.org/memsrv.htm#M (click the printable application form)
http://lgla.net/faq.html
http://www.moorlandymca.org/Index.cfm?F ... ID=1000624

I have seen other dues structures that are age- or job title-based, on the
assumption that the longer you are out of school or bigger title you have,
the more money you must make. While this method avoids asking for your
income, it obviously does not work for a worldwide society, nor even for
many first-world members. Here is an interesting passage talking about the
shift to income-based membership in academic societies:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Bi1QKm ... fDKYu6zpvI

And here's statement from the president of the American Anthropological
Association about why they shifted to income-based dues last year:

http://www.anthrosource.net/doi/abs/10. ... 07.48.1.11

""I hope that the new dues structure will help to maintain economic
inclusiveness and a wide range of perspectives in the AAA: It is in the
long-term interest of the association to accomplish these objectives. It is
also simply the right thing to do in a society that has such tremendous
disparities in wealth."" (It's hard to disagree with this!!)

Finally, another study indicating that people often lie about their income
under such structures (surely not a surprise!)
http://www.springerlink.com/content/18425550lx514q14/

As in many areas these days, we are being asked to give up some privacy for
the greater good. When pretty much anyone can do an Internet credit check on
you and find out WAY more information than required here, the benefits of
this particular intrusion seem to greatly outweigh the costs. In terms of
income privacy, we are already much further down the slippery slope than
this takes us. (Yes, I know two wrongs don't make a right, but....)

If Richard has a better idea, I'm sure the Policy Council would be glad to
hear it (note that I have absolutely no link to the council at all, nor the
membership structure). Personally, I might recommend reducing the number of
tiers to 3, for low, mid and high incomes. Less specificity of income would
be needed, while retaining most of the benefits. Perhaps something like
Under $25,000, $25-$50K and $50K and above, with a suggested additional
donation for those making over $100K. Also a special Student membership.

Just my two cents...

Becky Waring
Posted by Becky Waring <becky@waring.org>
posting date Fri, 07 Dec 2007 06:19:50 -0800
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Bob Eberlein <bob@vensim.com&
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Bob Eberlein <bob@vensim.com& »

Posted by Bob Eberlein <bob@vensim.com>

Hi Everyone,

The new dues structures was discussed at the conference this summer and
formally announced in the September Newsletter. The intent was to give
membership access to individuals who would not otherwise be able to
afford it while not significantly impacting overall membership revenue.
The tiered dues structure was the result of a committee that looked at
different possibilities for achieving those goals. The reasoning involved
and the details are available in their reports on the Society's web site
(under Governance).

It is too early to tell whether this is moving us toward those intended
goals, but there have not been any clear warning flags as yet. I do ask
the central office how renewals are going from time to time and so far,
there does not seem to have been much of a change from last year. I think
that is good news - the kind of new members we hope to reach will take some
time to get to. I am hopeful that we will see more participation from lesser
developed countries and communities, but we will have to wait to see if that
happens..

And just to make it clear, the Society does not ask anyone to report their
income. This is simply a tiered dues structure that has categories based on
personal income. It is up to the individual to choose the appropriate tier.
One could, of course, infer something about income from the dues chosen,
but that choice will not be reported on except in aggregate in any case.

Bob Eberlein
Posted by Bob Eberlein <bob@vensim.com>
posting date Fri, 7 Dec 2007 13:10:44 -0600
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Bruce Skarin <bruceskarin@hot
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Bruce Skarin <bruceskarin@hot »

Posted by Bruce Skarin <bruceskarin@hotmail.com>

First a reminder, this forum is not any official part of the society and while
I'm a bit disappointed that the society does not utilize it or even a formal
email list for getting feedback or reaching some kind of consensus, any formal
complaints should probably be lodged with the System Dynamics Society office
(office@systemdynamics.org).

Second, as a current member, this change should not be a complete surprise. In
the September Newsletter

http://www.systemdynamics.org/newslette ... ewsltr.htm

""A committee was formed to look at ways of making membership possible for people
with lower income and, during this summer’s meeting of the Policy Council, a
motion was approved to implement a new dues structure. The dues structure adopted
is tiered. Individuals with a personal income below the equivalent of US$8,000 per
year will pay $15/year for Society membership including electronic access to the
System Dynamics Review. Those at this income level also wishing to receive a
printed copy of the System Dynamics Review will pay $30/year. This pricing is
possible due to special concessions made by our publisher, John Wiley & Sons, in
order to encourage this outreach... If you have comments on the new dues structure
please feel free to send them to the Society office.""

However, while I'm not about to suspend my membership, I do understand Richard's
objection. I do get the principle of reaching out to a wider range of income
levels, yet I'm not really fond of the implementation. The company I work for will
reimburse up to a certain dollar amount of memberships, so I like the idea and
would support a higher level of membership such as ""professional"". For the other
levels I believe a ""practitioner"" and ""student/low income"" could suffice. The
professional level should also not come without some benefit. I know that for
other societies there is often a special journal edition or greater access to
resources. These levels seem less discriminatory and do no ask for something as
personal as actual income.

That being said I never expressed this opinion to the society and thus have no real
complaint.

-Bruce
Posted by Bruce Skarin <bruceskarin@hotmail.com>
posting date Fri, 7 Dec 2007 10:29:41 -0500
_______________________________________________

Richard Stevenson <richard@co
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Richard Stevenson <richard@co »

Posted by Richard Stevenson <richard@cognitus.co.uk>

>I can see the reason behind Richard's concern. But I understand this was
>a very well thought out and discussed idea, not something that was
>hastily implemented. It is based upon an honor system. Each member is
>essentially entitled to designate their own membership fee. Those that
>can afford to pay more, will. Those that cannot, won't.

My objection has nothing to do with honour. Nor with the fee itself.
It's a good idea to encourage students and those in the third world to participate.
By all means have different membership grades - e.g. student, personal, corporate etc.

My point is that the ""income banding"" approach is both intrusive and dumb. Oh -
and it clearly reflects a US$ orientation.

It's intrusive because personal declared income has nothing to do with the SDS.
It is also downright naive to say, ""I am sure their system will not disclose the
brackets that individuals fall in, but rather focus on the numbers of individuals
in each bracket."" Here in the UK, the government itself is faltering because the
personal details (bank account numbers included) of twenty million people have just
been lost on two DVDs, lost in the post! Personal information is not to be
entrusted lightly - and if you don't need to know you should not ask.

It's dumb because it makes the SDS appear to be a ""penny shop"" rather than a
professional organisation. It cheapens the whole thing. But then all those of
us who despair of ever having a properly run, properly funded, professional SD
institution will not be so surprised.

Last, the US$ orientation. The dollar is the US currency and increasingly less
useful as a measure of income in the rest of the world. I'm losing track now of
how many US$ my income will buy - and why should I need to look up the exchange
rate on the day I write a subscription cheque?

Whoever thought up this scheme clearly had not thought about ""unintended consequences"".

Richard Stevenson
Valculus Ltd
UK
Posted by Richard Stevenson <richard@cognitus.co.uk>
posting date Fri, 7 Dec 2007 18:56:54 +0000
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""Zagonel-Santos, Aldo A"" <a
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by ""Zagonel-Santos, Aldo A"" <a »

Posted by ""Zagonel-Santos, Aldo A"" <aazagon@sandia.gov>

I can see the reason behind Richard's concern. But I understand this was
a very well thought out and discussed idea, not something that was
hastily implemented. It is based upon an honor system. Each member is
essentially entitled to designate their own membership fee. Those that
can afford to pay more, will. Those that cannot, won't. The society has
no intent to verify the members fee designation. In fact, the society is
making a bold move here. It would be easier to retain control over
receipts, rather than sharing it with the membership.

I encourage anyone who is concerned about how this information will be
kept and used to contact the Society directly. I am sure their system
will not disclose the brackets that individuals fall in, but rather
focus on the numbers of individuals in each bracket.

I am very comfortable with the new approach and I hope everyone else
will give it an opportunity to succeed.

Aldo Zagonel
Albuquerque, NM
Posted by ""Zagonel-Santos, Aldo A"" <aazagon@sandia.gov>
posting date Fri, 7 Dec 2007 11:10:44 -0700
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Bill Braun <bbraun@hlthsys.co
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Bill Braun <bbraun@hlthsys.co »

Posted by Bill Braun <bbraun@hlthsys.com>

It is unclear to me what personal attack and bullying contributes to a
better future. In your haste to diminish others, Richard, you have
diminished yourself. None of us are immune to unintended consequences.

Publicly flogging well-meaning people who do a lot on their own time
offends me. Please stop.

To your credit you have been forthright and made it clear that that you
just plain do not like the way things are in the Society. Fair enough.
Whose society is this? If you reply, ""mine"", then it is fair to ask,

- ""What role have you played in creating the current reality you want to
change?""
- ""What is the future you envision?""
- ""What shift in you would create a shift in the whole?""
- ""What promises are you willing to make to realize the future you want?""
- ""What price are you willing to pay to create that future?""

(The same can be asked of all of us.)

If you reply, ""not mine"", proceed as your heart tells you.

Bill Braun
Posted by Bill Braun <bbraun@hlthsys.com>
posting date Sat, 08 Dec 2007 14:30:11 -0500
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""Jack Ring"" <jring@amug.org
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by ""Jack Ring"" <jring@amug.org »

Posted by ""Jack Ring"" <jring@amug.org>

Too bad those in charge didn't use SD to model member donation as a
function of several factors.

They would have found that 'income level' would offend some.

Better yet they would have found that 'Voluntary Amount' policy accompanied
by a 'Suggested Criteria 'chart would have increased SD income about 20%.

Sigh,

Jack Ring
Posted by ""Jack Ring"" <jring@amug.org>
posting date Sat, 8 Dec 2007 15:34:29 -0700
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Carl Betterton <carlb@uga.edu
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Carl Betterton <carlb@uga.edu »

Posted by Carl Betterton <carlb@uga.edu>

Having thought about the dues issue for a day or so, I agree fully with
Richard's ""knee jerk reaction,"" as his objection has been pejoratively
characterized. There is no ""right"" or ""wrong"" in this - only agreement
or disagreement. In my view the dues structure is a very poor
implementation of a measure that was probably well intended. The sad
part is that the objective could have been accomplished in a way that
avoided the negative side effects. And these are systems thinkers?

Carl
Posted by Carl Betterton <carlb@uga.edu>
posting date Sat, 08 Dec 2007 13:33:20 -0500
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Paul Holmström <ph@holmstrom.
Junior Member
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

QUERY Income based membership dues

Post by Paul Holmström <ph@holmstrom. »

Posted by Paul Holmström <ph@holmstrom.se>

Touchy subject. Asking about income does have a touch of rummaging in
somebodys drawer with underwear. The present Facebook debacle is very much
about where we draw our privacy lines.

Jack suggestion with ""Voluntary amount"" and ""Suggested criteria"" is very
wise. Now that we all have got the renewal forms, maybe we could use Jacks
suggestion as an interpretation of the text.

Regards
Paul Holmstrom
Posted by Paul Holmström <ph@holmstrom.se>
posting date Sun, 09 Dec 2007 14:00:27 +0100
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