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Imagine a world without your society…

June 7, 2011
“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Mark Twain uttered those famous words over a century ago.  And thanks to the recent predictions of the world’s demise, journalists all over the country were able to insert them into today’s headlines.  I’m sure you saw or read reports about the misguided Christian broadcaster from California (my home, sweet, home state) who boldly predicted the end of the world.  Yep, according to this Christian broadcaster, Armageddon was upon us…the Rapture…the end of days…turn out the lights, the party’s over.  Fortunately, his fearless forecast was incorrect – although the media did not devote much space to covering his response when the sun rose that day (“Missed it by that much…”).  Guess he forgot to reference that other famous quote:  “Ye know not the day nor the hour…” But it did get me to thinking of “It’s a Wonderful Life” scenarios and what the world would be like without certain people or institutions in it – specifically, fraternalism.  Not in a morbid kind of way, but a curious one – is the world really a better place because fraternals exist?  What would be lost if we weren’t around? This was made even more compelling when I explained what I did for a living to a new acquaintance (OK, a golf buddy) who hadn’t a clue what fraternals were.  After I gave my “elevator speech” and expounded on the virtues of the tax exemption, he asked me the following question:
  • “So, if the tax exemption was repealed and fraternals were legislated out of existence, wouldn’t those people keep volunteering through their church or another service club, and wouldn’t they buy their insurance through a ‘regular’ insurance company?”
I thought my response to this question was pretty solid, but rather than sharing it with you now, I’d like to hear how you’d reply.  What would be lost if we woke up tomorrow and the fraternal system did not exist?  I’m not only interested in hearing what you have to say, but I also think your responses will form the cornerstone for the messages we will need to deliver to public policymakers at the state and federal levels as they attempt to deal with the government’s financial crisis by overhauling the tax code.  That’s why it’s important that you be specific and compelling.  While there is certainly a benefit to social gatherings that enhance fellowship among members and raise a little money through raffles, is that really enough to justify a tax exemption?  What real needs in your members’ communities would go unfilled if you weren’t there to fill them? Ladies and gentlemen, the blog is yours…