Some PYM Budget Cut Blog Feedback

Found a couple of blog posts that speak of the PYM budget situation, mainly the YAF part of it.

The most interestingly titled one is: A Letter to Chuck Fager About His Blog and the Recent Budget Conflicts in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, by Zach Dutton.

Zach says he’s a student at one of my alma maters, Harvard Divinity School; but what really distinguishes him is the fact that he’s read my Quaker mystery novel, Un-Friendly Persuasion. Dude!

Beyond these items, Zach says, “I am writing, otherwise, to express some concern.”

Unfortunately, 900 words later, I’m not sure what the concern is. (Perhaps other readers can enlighten me.)

It has to do with PYM, the YAFs, budget cuts, and staying together. It may also have to do with my use of the term “fight” in an earlier post.

But I’m not sure: Zach, the point of “concern” escaped me. And your blog wouldn’t accept a comment I tried to post there.

So let me suggest you try again, and aim for clarity and conciseness. Plain speaking, as it were.

The other blog post is by Brad Ogilvie of William Penn House in DC, with the title, The Fragmentation of Friends? It speaks of the PYM budget cuts along with two other incidents: one is the tensions between some New York City Friends and the expensive Friends Seminary private school, reported on by the New York Times. And the third is a comment by someone at some yearly meeting session regarding a Quaker body which allegedly cut programs by half, but preserved pensions in full. (One suspects this jibe was aimed at the American Friends Service Committee.)

Ogilvie takes these three items as evidence of

a pattern emerging among Friends that is immensely disturbing to me. There seems to be a drawing of lines along wealth and generations that is somewhat convoluted, and all are driven by the current economy. But rather than coming together, we seem to be pulling ourselves apart at a time when we need each other the most.

Interested Friends will want to look this over and draw their own conclusions. For my part, it seems Brad’s getting a lot of interpretation out of a pretty thin base of data. Internecine hassles between Friends schools and meetings are nothing new; this one isn’t more important because it was noticed by the Times. Pension obligations are in the nature of contracts; dumping them is what predatory corporations do, and it keeps lawyers busy. Not least, staff layoffs have happened before (I know this from experience), and they are typically traumatic, especially for those being laid off.

So the first item doesn’t signal a trend on my radar. The last two reflect economic hard times, with emphasis on the “hard.” That’s the trend showing up for me.

Our main topic here is the PYM budget situation. And it may be worth mentioning that the discussion, at least what I have seen of it, has gone far beyond simply cutting the YAF slot. The SOSC document posted here is evidence of that. Further, if there really is a million dollar budget shortfall for PYM to deal with, that’s not exactly an elitist “drawing of lines” about wealth. It’s a situation of having to cope with a major loss of “wealth.”

A traumatic situation for sure. The “hard” part of hard times.

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