Something for Nothing

I’m probably going to be a little bit on a soap box with this post, but this is something that is bothering me. It’s about the society we live in and how it’s becoming more and more of a “something for nothing” society. We expect to get things without having to pay for them. In fact we’re so used to it that we even get angry when someone asks for payment. Let me give you some examples:

How many times have you gone to Wikipedia to look for an answer to a question? Or any other site on the Internet for that matter? And how many times have you donated any funds at all to the upkeep and maintenance of that site? Guess what. It costs money to maintain a website.

How many times have you downloaded a song off the Internet without paying for it in any way? People spend money to record songs and money to make movies. Where does the money come from to allow them to continue doing those things if nobody pays for the ones already made?

The reason this is bothering me is in relation to our professional associations. Even here, people want to receive benefits without paying for a membership – something for nothing. Our professional associations are worth supporting. They offer us educational opportunities, networking opportunities and a host of other benefits. All of these things cost our associations money to produce and provide. And even big associations cannot afford to continue eating the costs without eventually being financially unable to continue. You might be surprised to know how much of any given board meeting for your association is spent discussing staying financially viable.

Nobody, including your professional associations, can stay in business if they cannot make enough of a profit margin to survive, basically if they give away too much for free. I think it’s time for us to stop expecting everything to be handed to us without needing to give anything in return. So go for it. Donate to Wikipedia, buy your CDs, blue-rays and downloads, and join your professional societies. You will not regret it.


-Patti Jones PhD, DABCC, FACB, is the Clinical Director of the Chemistry and Metabolic Disease Laboratories at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, TX and a Professor of Pathology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

One thought on “Something for Nothing”

  1. Patti, nice article. I’m not sure people want to hear the truth, but a lot of this has to deal with how our society has changed into a “politically correct” society. Because we have to be all-inclusive and worry about not offending someone our government has shifted into not making necessarily the “wise decisions” it needs to make because they have a ton of “special interests” to think about. People then feel entitled and when people feel entitled they feel they deserve things for free. We do not reward hard work and knowledge…just look at how many products are knocked off, copied, and stolen to be made cheap by a foreign country.

    If we move back to a society which rewards hard work, knowledge, and doing the wise thing…and realize it is okay to say, “no” to special interests and people who feel left out then societies and their benefits might be taken a little more seriously. The other area we need to consider is people join societies because they want the ‘instant gratification’ of the benefits. There is no long-term cohesive benefit in sticking together, because the society doesn’t enforce it.

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