I had no plans for further public comment on the ASA dues proposal [petition here], but John Logan, a member of ASA Council, has left a comment on Gabriel’s Code and Culture blog regarding the proposal that is worth highlighting. As you know, it has been emphatically asserted on this blog (and elsewhere) that (a) the dues changes would increase overall revenue to ASA and that (b) this is a much more important part of the proposal than what one would gather from the way the proposal was presented to membership, which nowhere directly acknowledges increasing revenue as part of its rationale. Dues increases beyond cost-of-living require a member vote for a reason, and a fully informed membership is essential to this process.
From Logan’s comment:
I’ve been on ASA Council for nearly three years. The idea of a dues increase was floated in the first year. It was linked to the concept of increasing progressivity. However the initial iterations of the proposal would actually raise most new revenue from people at the lower end of the distribution. It was claimed that greater progressivity could not be accomplished without raising revenue, and it was asserted that new revenue was not the motivation, not at all. However the initial proposals would actually have generated more revenue than the current proposal.
A memo from the Executive Officer prepared for the 2/11 Council meeting stated a different position. “EOB [Executive Office and Budget] has also been reluctant to ask Council to have the membership vote a change the dues structure until the association needed additional revenue. While the dues model circulated by Council member John Logan is a more progressive model, it does not provide the necessary increase in revenue.”
Given the Council discussion (which everyone will eventually be able to review through the Minutes), I was surprised and disappointed that the Footnotes rationale didn’t even mention revenue. I hope that this failure will be rectified, though we are so close to the balloting that it may be too late.
It’s worth reading the whole comment, especially as Logan says he plans to vote for the proposal anyway. He is confident the extra revenue will be carefully spent, although he also acknowledges that he does not know how it is intended to be spent. I do not wish to be understood as asserting it will not be carefully spent–some wonderful folks work for ASA–but I feel strongly that members need and deserve more and real specifics, especially for a dues increase that puts most faculty and professional sociologists well above comparable social science organizations without any corresponding relief for the relatively high dues already paid by students.
(P.S.: there seems to be a persistent confusion out there that the way ASA dues work is that every so often we need to vote for a dues increase because otherwise dues stay the same. No. Cost-of-living increases in dues require only Council approval and indeed are routinely approved, so it’s not the case that this is a temporary increase that will be eventually offset by inflation. The proposal represents a permanent increase in the percent of members’ income that goes to organizational dues.)