When is a free lunch really free!!!

I had lunch yesterday with old client and friend. It was basically a catch up lunch to bring each other up to date on both personal and business issues. Once we can past the catch –up phase of our conversation we discussed the economy and local business issues that relate to retail, specifically two bills that were recently in front of the state legislature in Connecticut. He was passionate about one of the issues which lead me to ask if he had gotten involved in any way by contacting his state representative to express his opinion. His answer was an emphatic no that he didn’t have the time. Now at this point I simply should have nodded and moved on but that’s not my style. I pushed a bit more and then suggested that he join the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association. As the primary lobbying organization for retailers in Connecticut they are the eyes and ears at the state legislature to protect the best interests of retailers. He acknowledged that he was aware of the Association but saw no compelling reason to join. From his perspective he was getting the benefits without any effort or cost. Now this is smart guy who works hard to be successful and it the words of the old John Houseman add “he earned”, basically a no free lunch kind of guy. We enjoy each others company and especially like to verbally parry. I think I won this mini debate, whether he will join or not is undecided but it forced me to think about organizations that benefit me and I don’t support with either time or money. It’s time to pay the fiddler. As an aside in the end he did get a free lunch since I pick up the tab.