X-Message-Number: 10279
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 11:48:36 EDT
Subject: volunteer work

Chris Fideli (#10273) offers us (cryonics organizations) a fine challenge--to
exploit the energies and ideas of young people. This of course is not a new
challenge, but one not yet adequately met.

1. Before getting to the general area, a quick note about one specific idea
Mr. Fideli offered--retaining representation for congressional lobbying. This
has indeed come up before, more than once, but I think the consensus has been
that it is probably not of practical value at present. It's too expensive, and
is likely to be useless and even counterproductive, simply because there
aren't enough of us to make a dent in any constituency. 

Perhaps I should take a moment to expand just a little on why it might be
counterproductive. A very rough comparison might be the right-to-die issue. A
MAJORITY of voters favor it--yet the opposition of the minority is so strong
that most of the state legislatures, and probably the national congress, would
try to kill any favorable bill. In our case, opposition might be less
virulent, but we are only a tiny minority, and raising our profile in THIS
context might be asking for trouble. (I am NOT suggesting we should lie low in
general; we want all the favorable publicity we can get. But legislatures are
the wrong venue, in my opinion. The first instinct of a legislator, if not to
kill it, is to tax it and regulate it, creating more expense and obstacles.)

2. Mr. Fideli's suggestion to get Rudy Matic's article published elsewhere is
a good one. We will look into it. Meanwhile, anyone who wants the current
issue of THE IMMORTALIST (while they last) can send $3 to the Immortalist
Society, 24355 Sorrentino Court, Clinton Township MI 48035.

3. On the general question of exploiting young people's time and energy--this
is not as easy as it might at first seem, yet needs more attention. Part of
the general problem is one of status, accountability, and reliability. When
someone does work on our behalf, it has to be done right, or we will pay a
price. But unpaid volunteers cannot be disciplined in any easy way; they have
to be coaxed and nursed and guided, which may be more trouble than it is
worth. They cannot readily be given deadlines. They cannot readily be
entrusted with confidential information such as records of members. They
usually must work at a distance, although with computers this is less of a
problem than formerly. So what it boils down to, as far as I can see, is that
usually the young volunteer can only be given the odd job that stands alone
and has no special deadline, such as writing an article or locating
information or .what? Suggestions?

4. As to Mr. Fideli himself, he has not said (that I recall) whether he is
currently a member of any organization. If not, CI would like to have him, and
others like him. As to the expense of joining, we address this in two ways:

a) Not later than the end of September (annual meeting) we expect to have a
new membership option for young people, more affordable than anything else now
available at any organization.

b) CI has long had an unpublicized option whereby the president or vice
president may use his judgment in special cases to allow work or service of
some kind to substitute for the membership fee. This has been used so far only
in a single case (which turned out very well indeed). It remains open, but
will be used extremely sparingly, and will ordinarily require special
qualifications--something unusual to offer--not just willingness.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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