Lisle Resignation Follow-up

Yesterday, SFWA President Steven Gould not only answered a question File 770 posed about the organization’s pursuit of public grants, he delivered a general description of SFWA’s objectives in reincorporating in California.

Part of that statement confirmed SFWA is now able to relax its policy on repayment of emergency medical grants made to members.

At the same time that I sent my question to Gould, some comments here about my article on Holly Lisle’s resignation from SFWA prompted me to ask her whether I had interpreted her reasons correctly.

Essentially I had, but Gould’s statement overtook Lisle’s original reply and made part of it obsolete. So now Lisle has given me permission to reblog her considerably expanded  “Follow-up on my resignation from SFWA”:

Holly Lisle: First, I applaud SFWA’s desire to give grants rather than loans to people suffering from medical emergencies. Continuing its practice of having members volunteer to fund those grants is probably the intent—but the repayment of the loans kept the fund fluid so more loans could be offered.

Under the new system, the well will run dry promptly, requiring more donations from a membership ever less eager to give, and alternate sources will need to be found—and the government is ever willing to fund grants so long as the grants are spent regularly and in a timely fashion, and not kept in storage to maintain a self-funded system.

Second, as I said right at the beginning of my original statement, I know SFWA had many GOOD reasons for wanting to move the corporation to California.

Third, however, Sun Tzu says to prepare not for what the enemy might do, but for what he CAN do.

I’ll note that I do not consider SFWA the “enemy.” The Art of War, though, is applicable to many situations in life beyond war, and it is applicable to organizations that expand their powers and reach over time.

Organizations generally begin with the best of intentions. They generally increase the powers they give themselves for good reasons and with hopeful intent.

However, across the life of an organization, every power the organization gives itself will eventually be used, first in “exceptional” cases, and over time as a matter of course.

An organization that puts itself into position where it CAN tap into Federal funds for the purposes of redistributing them eventually WILL.

It may do so tentatively at first, but exceptions become conventions, and people who have a conscience about using money they didn’t have to earn are replaced by those who happily use promises of giving that unearned money to friends and allies within an organization in exchange for votes.

Campaigns of “FREE Writing Grants for SFWA Members! It’s YOUR Money!!” will remove those with consciences from office and replace them with those who think “free” money taken at gunpoint from taxpayers is just nifty.

Gould states, “We are certainly investigating the possibility of applying for appropriate grants from public and private sources when the purposes of those grants line up with our existing mission programs. But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

And this is the part of that statement that proves I made the right choice in posting my open letter and walking away NOW.

“But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

I DON’T. Organizations follow predictable paths.

Federal income tax was initially a pittance compared to revenue taxes.

SFWA is an organization with an elected government, too.

Gould and others who intend the best will be replaced (and probably must faster than they imagine) by those who want to have power within SFWA, and who see that a new path to power within the organization has just been created by the simple expedient of promising money that isn’t theirs to folks who would like have money they didn’t have to earn, and who are willing to vote to rob Peter to pay themselves.

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8 thoughts on “Lisle Resignation Follow-up

  1. It’s hard for me to comprehend Lisle’s reasoning. Trying to get money to writers sounds like something a writers’ org SHOULD be doing. If she thinks public funding for culture is wrong (a weird concept), maybe she should be running for office to make it impossible rather than resigning SFWA that only does what it legally can.

  2. Not to mention that federal funding for culture is basically a rounding error when you look at federal funding for other things.

    But sometimes when it’s a matter of principle, “not one penny!” is a reaction people have.

  3. “If she thinks public funding for culture is wrong….”

    I think she and all hyper-libertarians think that the guv’mint shouldn’t be funding anything at all. When your first and overriding assumption is All Government Is Evil, full stop, then everything else logically follows.

  4. Art of War 3:18 is the famous “know your enemy, know yourself, never lose, but know neither yourself nor your enemy then you will always lose” thing, instead she’s quoting Admiral Carl Von Clausewitz’ Vom Krieg.

    He’s notably the “politics is war by other means” guy as well.

    Normally I wouldn’t nitpick like this but Vom Krieg and Art of War are talking at complete tangents to each other – one to officers the other to a sovreign, one about preparing an attack, the other about when to delegate to your generals because you know less than your generals in the field about the current state of your armies and the disposition of your enemies’.

    One can act on the hypothetical potentiality that SFWA will get addicted to handing out medical funds to people just because people need it, or you can act in reaction to something if and when it ever actually happens.

  5. The principle of opposing things you acknowledge good because some day in the future they might be used for evil is an awfully severe philosophy of life, and would require eschewing many things a lot more fundamental than institutional grants.
    Also, I don’t think much of the literary skills of an author who identifies the not-yet-offending organization as the enemy and then hastily claims to take it back in the next paragraph.

  6. I am also intrigued by the apparent jump in logic that says that because SFWA can now apply for grants it WILL RECEIVE ALL THE MONEY EVER!!! Which, um, you know… not how things actually work.

  7. Brian: That “jump in logic” seems to have happened exclusively inside your head.

  8. > Not to mention that federal funding for culture is basically a rounding error when you look at federal funding for other things.
    If you take “Taxes are the price of a Civilized Society” as a truth…

    > But sometimes when it’s a matter of principle, “not one penny!” is a reaction people have.
    …it follows that some ‘principals’ are, by definition, uncivilized.

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