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Objectivist Umbrella Organization

 

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The Objectivist movement in the Puget Sound is lacking something.  Puget Sound objectivists share values and ideals but little more than that. This leaves each individual Objectivist psychologically and culturally relatively isolated.

Churches, the Grange, service clubs such as the Lions, and other similar organizations serve a variety of functions and produce a variety of intangible benefits for their members. Many of these intangible benefits are useful and desirable in spite of the parent organization's philosophical beliefs.

The Benefits of an Objectivist 'Umbrella' Organization:

The non-ideological functions of a church/Grange/service club include:

Benefits related to a sense of community:

  1. Foster a sense of community among the members.
  2. Facilitate business contacts between members.
  3. Facilitate shared activities between persons who share values and beliefs.
  4. Environment for those who wish to be or wish to find advisors or mentors.
  5. Social events purely for fun.

Benefits related to raising children:

  1. Assist members in instructing their children in their values and belief-systems.
  2. Facilitate the making of friends among the children of the members.
  3. Provide group activities that will help keep members' teenaged children out of trouble.
  4. Benefits related to political affairs:
  5. An aid to ideological outreach.
  6. An example to the 'Doubting Thomas' that an organization based on the group's shared values works well and is a pleasant organization with which to associate.
  7. Influence decisions of political and large non-political organizations (such as corporations and non-profit organizations).
  8. Selective charitable endeavors.

Most of these benefits are of a psychological nature, not of a philosophic nature. Nevertheless, they are real and useful.

Activities of an Objectivist 'Umbrella Organization':

1. An on-line classified ads on the internet ("The Information Exchange") - possible categories:

bulletGoods for sale
bulletServices for sale
bulletHobby buddies
bulletAnnouncements of projects, classes, and courses
bulletHow-to-do information

2. Several kinds of regular meetings and smaller organizations:

bulletPurely social meetings
bulletEducational and discussion meetings a philosophy discussion group
bulletActivist or Influence-oriented meetings
bulletThink-tank meetings.
bulletStock investment club
bulletA stock investment club for teenage children of objectivists
bulletA Junior Achievement-like company for teenage children of objectivists intended to give them personal experience with the adult working world
bulletBook, drama, and poetry discussion groups

3. The Objectivist umbrella organization should provide resources to help bring up children well:

bulletChurches sometimes set up day-care operations and use them to teach the children of members. An Objectivist day care could teach good thinking skills to pre-schoolers.
bulletA before and after elementary and secondary school day care could promote good thinking and reasoning skills while kids are waiting to be picked up by their parents.
bulletThe Japanese-American community on the East side has it's own after-hours school for primary and secondary students. They meet on one day each weekend and after school several days each week to teach Japanese language and culture to the children. Objectivists could do something similar. After-school supplementary education would be much less expensive than a private primary school.
bulletMost churches have a "youth fellowship" that meets Saturday or Sunday evenings to promote recreation among their teen-age members in a controlled environment, and to mix in some teaching with the social activities.
bulletMany churches operate a Boy Scout, Girl Scout, Cub Scout, Brownie, Explorer Scout, Camp Fire Girl, Junior Achievement Company, Destination Imagination team, or other organizations from their building. Some of these are good candidates for analogous Objectivist organizations. The physical facilities used for day-care, after-school care, and after-school supplementary education would work well for meetings, adult educational activities, 'youth fellowship' groups, etc.
bulletA Junior Achievement-like small business is a particularly rich situation in which to teach youngsters how companies work and how the economy functions.
bulletAfter the simpler and less expensive programs are functioning, it would be appropriate to consider establishing a private Objectivist primary or secondary school.

A Source of Funds:

Funding is often the bane of small organizations' existence, and a prominent cause of their demise, however there is an un-obvious source of funds for an Objectivist organization.

Large employers, such as Boeing, often promote contribution to the united way among their employees by means that are coercive in spirit. Almost all Boeing division managers refuse to consider an employee for a manager position unless that person is a united way contributor, and many try hard to get 'their' managers to participate at the higher "heart of gold" level (about 2.2 percent of salary). These managers will accept, as an alternative, that their manager tithes to his/her church. Some division managers actually check with the church to verify that the claimed tithing does, in fact, occur. The first response to such an intrusion into personal prerogative is to go find another employer; however, most of the large employers in the Puget Sound practice some version of this "influence". Changing employers might not resolve the problem, since the new employer might adopt a similar policy.

If the Objectivist umbrella organization were a non-profit organization and carried out activities that could qualify it for united way funding, then Objectivist employees could tithe to the umbrella organization instead of united way. It would not be necessary for the Objectivist umbrella organization to actually qualify with the united way, as long as it was perceived to be a 'legitimate' charitable organization. Example: The mormon church is not funded by united way, but Boeing employees who tithe to it can escape being hassled for contribution to united way.

The 'recommended' level of support by united way is approximately 1.7 percent of salary for employees and 2.2 percent for managers, by payroll deduction. A payroll deduction "tithe" of this kind would be a dependable monthly funding source. The practice of 'tithing' could be sold to local objectivists as a means to avoid being "the nail that sticks out and is hammered down" at work and simultaneously assuring that their money supports programs that promote their values.

Land and Buildings:

A business that uses its physical facilities intensively all around the week is a more efficient user of capital than one which uses facilities only on weekends or only during the work week. Churches, Granges, Eagles lodges, etc. use their facilities intensively during the weekend, much less during the weekday evening, and even less during the business day. Day cares and schools use their facilities intensively during the business day, a little after business hours of the work week, and hardly at all during the weekend. Facilities could be 'put to work' for two shifts (approximately 6 am to 9 pm) on seven days per week by combining the activity programs of the above two groups.

It should be possible to rent the use of an existing building. Churches and day cares sometimes 'outgrow' their building. The buildings are then often available for rent or sale. At the point that an Objectivist umbrella organization was ready to invest in a building, there should be some available at a price that is more affordable than new construction.

Summary

All these suggested endeavors are intended to create a community among objectivists. The activities should not depend primarily on the effort of any one or two key persons. All the above would help make the Objectivist movement more influential and may help individual objectivists become happier and more successful at work. They can be achieved incrementally, with useful benefits accruing even in the early stages.

Not everyone is up to the task of being a philosopher. An intellectual movement that has a place and a role for those of less-than-philosopher-level intellect will be more influential and more helpful to its participants than a movement, which exists only among the brilliant.

John deGroot

Woodinville, WA

March 20, 2000

 

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