My Proposed Solution to the Life Members Problem

For the past twenty years, no issue has been more derisive among the USCF members than the issue of the life members. The problem arises because, since at least the 1950s, the USCF has been selling life memberships. The current rate for a regular life membership is $850, but in the past life memberships have been sold for as little as $100 or even $50. In addition, some life memberships were given away as a reward or for promotional purposes.

Each of these life memberships has created a moral obligation to send Chess Life magazine once a month to every life member. Since there are more than 10,000 life members, the cost is considerable, plus "Life Member Assets" and "Life Member Liability" accounts in the amount of approximately $2 million each have been set up "to protect the rights of the life members".

The real problem is that there is no mechanism to determine when a life member dies and the obligation to send Chess Life ceases. It seems that the purchase of a life membership almost guarantees an eternal life, since only 300 life members are reported ever to have died. Since some have been life members for more than 40 years, the real number should be at least one or two thousand.

My proposed solution is so obvious that it is surprising that it has not been done already:

Send to each local affiliate a list of all life members in his area, determined by zip code, and request that the local affiliate go knock on the door of the life member to determine whether he is alive or not and report back the results. Also, send to each state affiliate a list of life members within that state.

The affiliates should be happy to oblige, because, by contacting the life member, it will encourage the life member to play chess again, which will bring money to the affiliate. Since there are more than 2,000 affiliates, it will not create much of a burden to have all of the 10,000 life members contacted at their last known address.

Any comments?

Sam Sloan

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