Amanda and Johnathan,

Have you ever considered what a club is? Years ago it was simply a membership list, a magazine, a rationale, and a reputation. Among the English influenced folk there was often a club house. A club is very inexpensive to run. The major cost was the magazine to keep a living community. Now with websites and desktop publishing, the cost of running a club is dirt cheap. There are two basic types: Those which are for their members and those which are set up to enrich the founders. [ By the way some have become rich that way.] The ones set up to extract money from the members often have marvelous gift shops with great profit margins.

I once belonged to a well-known club. One had to have a rather high IQ. [Caveat: IQ is no more intelligence than money is.] It was splendid. Very democratic in an odd way. Smart people willing to talk about anything. Nobody offended by taboos. And the best thing: You could say or ask anything and NOBODY would say “Are you stupid?” There were different groups: Flirting, drinking, cooking, and such.

One year the office staff changed and the offices moved from Brooklyn to Texas. The dues went up from nominal to many times the cost of running the club. In short the club transitioned from inclusive to extractive. The membership underwent an interesting change. Those who were wealthy enough not to notice or status conscious stayed in the club. Many others felt a cognitive dissonance of belonging to a club for high IQ while being dumb enough to pay dues to enrich a shadowy group.

Were the get-togethers worth the cost? It doesn’t matter to me; the feeling of being used wrecked it for me.

This comes to mind every election year. We often hear it said, “Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society.” True. But the level of taxes determines whether we belong to an inclusive club and family or are being used by a political elite. That book “The Hunger Games” shows an extractive government in a dramatic manner. Most governments are extractive. Just not to that extent.

It has been suggested that there are two types of groups: inclusive and extractive. I wish to refine it a touch more. I suggest three categories:
People freely paying to do that which cannot be done easily individually.
Sheep to be sheared by those in charge.
A population to be harvested regardless of harm or damage.

Groups will migrate through these categories. Is there any doubt that North Korea is anything but a factory to produce wealth for a small aristocracy at any cost to the starving masses? This is not even sustainable farming. When the tax rates in France were set to exceed 90% a few months ago, people started seeking to change their citizenship to Belgium, Britain, and Russia. Does Depardieu think he is in a mutually inclusive relationship? Or does he think he a sucker being sheared for the benefit of those who do not care for him or count him as kin?

I think Charles once told me of a group that would take over condominium associations and enrich themselves. If the Condominium Association starts a lawsuit you cannot easily sell your house. Other tasks become difficult and involved. They may even be paid to resign the Association and go away, You might ask him.

Speaking of clubs. If you can stand it, starting a club can be a great summer job. A club now only requires a website and conferencing software. Imagine a group with a broad base. Perhaps “Beer Drinkers of the Central Valley.” Encourage them. Establish an esprit du corps with message boards and some inexpensive services. Encourage the rating of products and establishments. If you can get ten thousand people to send you three dollars a month, well then you’ve just become a successful entrepreneur. I am not being silly. Some people recently started a political website and did just that. Oh. The founders also became modestly famous.

Just a thought that’s been going through my mind.

Your Uncle

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