Monday, July 26, 2010

Who can be a member of FILOA?

To be considered for membership in  Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA) you have to be at least 5’ 10” tall and weigh no more than 250 lbs…; no that won’t work, gotta’ come up with some realistic membership rules. I read a short article by Steve Farrell over at The Moral Liberal on Fundamental Rights of Societies, Clubs and Nations ; interesting since my topic today had to do with organizing a new locksmith association.

“Every society from a great nation down to a club has a right of declaring the conditions on which new members should be admitted.” Source: Madison’s Notes on the Federal Convention, August 9, 1787, Gouvernor Morris: delegate from Pennsylvania.

I’m taking a huge leap here; let’s say that anyone interested in becoming a member of FILOA should be involved in the business of locksmith work as a hobby, apprentice, journeyman locksmith or in some other way interested in the trade/profession. Notice how trade/profession is carefully fused; no accident or coincidence; if it bothers your sense of self righteousness you’re not going to feel comfortable with our organization. We’ll accept tinkering amateurs and folks with letters behind their names; just remember to clean up after yourselves as there is no maid service.

We’re going to come up with a membership form which can be downloaded from our site, a form which has to be signed and then returned via the U.S. Postal Service with a real stamp on it. It wouldn’t do to let just anyone become a member. Just look what happened to Congress; no Sir, we’re going to have to be much more selective if you’re going to be admitted into this group.

The membership form will include a place for a notary to witness your signature testifying that you are not a convicted felon and that you are worthy to hold a locksmith license in states which require such a license or consider such licenses fundamentally unconstitutional; that should about cover the integrity clause once we get around to establishing such guidelines.

I’ll run all this by a lawyer friend of mine so he can have a good laugh and then do some serious organizing. The biggest challenge to individuals forming such a group like FILOA is the bureaucratic disaster we call government. They’re always doing their level best to invent powers whereby they might get around constitutional restraints. You can bet these pencil heads will not take kindly to having a group of fiercely independent minded folks getting together.

We need a great looking logo, something to put at the top of our letterhead and website. It could have crossed antique keys like other locksmith organizations; but they might see that as an infringement on their logo so be original if you plan to submit a design. Scan your artwork and send it along with your membership dues before we start doing our in depth criminal background checks.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

FILOA has an address

Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America was started tongue in cheek so to speak, a rant against the establishment. That having been said, the idea of having a formal association of fiercely independent locksmiths meant it had to reserve an address on the internet. We now have two addresses, three if you include the blogger address listed under my account. With any luck these locations will be up and running soon; until then the only one working is the Blogspot account.

We had a successful membership drive in July; we now have two members. I joke about things like this; but we had to start somewhere and the future is bright. Drop us a line and maybe by August we’ll have enough to form a committee. At this very moment we are assembling a webpage and have secured a server,

“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” Alma 37:6

There’s a line from the movie Forrest Gump that fits well. After he’d been out all day on the boat and all he had to show for his efforts were a couple of shrimp, “…a few more and you’ll have enough for a shrimp cocktail.”

I was thinking of an old time locksmith who would travel around the country putting on shows to help fellow locksmiths, Hank Spicer. Hank would have jumped at the chance to be part of this new organization. I don’t know if he’s still among the living; he’ll be the first honorary lifetime member teaching others how to accomplish basic locksmith skills and all he offered our trade/profession. Maybe we’ll have a column dedicated to technical articles intended to help, a “locksmith corner” to honor Hank; like I said, this is a blank page so far and almost any idea is worth considering at this time.

I haven’t mentioned anything about membership dues; not my favorite topic. I’m not doing this for a profit in spite of my capitalistic character; how about $ 15.00, a voluntary fee to help cover the cost of the website? Send money orders or make your personal checks payable to: Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America; no credit cards at this time.

Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America
c/o T. F. Stern & Company Locksmith
15707 Autumnbrook Drive
Houston, Texas 77068

With your membership you will get free access to our website; hint, it’s free to anyone who happens to find it on the web. If you act quickly your membership number will only have one digit; easier to remember and something to brag about in years to come. We will also accept articles to be shared along with pictures ( in JPG format ).

Once the site is up and running modifications will be made to separate sensitive information from general public areas to prevent improper use. We’ll be looking into legal consultation and web management skills as the site grows.

This article is cross posted to T F Stern’s Rantings , where the banner reads, “My Op-ed pieces are generally too long, and most definitely too far to the right for our Liberal friends in the press to print. The one time they printed my rantings, they edited it so badly as to destroy its meaning...and so I now have decided to BLOG.”

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America

I woke up early from my slumbers to jot down a thought or two concerning the locksmith industry which I’ve been associated with since 1976. This weekend our country celebrates Independence Day, a chance to reflect on God having blessed us with our inalienable rights as declared some two hundred years ago.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
In my mind that celebration has become tainted to some degree by an ever imposing host of entities, bureaucrats and self serving “blow-hards” who think they know better than me how to get the job done and yet have nothing invested in my business other than hot air. In spite of this, I continue to celebrate opportunities afforded individuals in this great nation. I wonder what our founders would have to say, particularly Thomas Jefferson who penned so eloquently our sentiments for all the world to see.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
I felt compelled to arise early, begin work on creating a new locksmith association, one which would express the views of, and cater to, fiercely independent individuals currently involved in the business and who are not properly represented at this time. I’d been a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) from 1978 until this past year when I decided not to renew; choosing not to pay dues to an organization which fails to represent my independent views regarding the locksmith industry.

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Long ago the ALOA was a forum for locksmiths to exchange ideas and promote our specific industry; but somewhere along the way it got lost and became a political movement more concerned with how the industry was perceived publicly than representing those involved in the actual business of providing locksmith goods and services. It has been a gradual process, degradation from pure locksmith orientation to some monstrous security industry political action committee which represents something entirely different than what it had at one time; sorry, count me out.

Each year articles in ALOA’s monthly publication, Keynotes, reflected the change from a trade publication toward expressing political views, a spearhead movement that centered on licensing the locksmith industry in order to make it appear more professional, to validate the industry if you will. There were fewer articles, ways to improve locksmith skills, in favor of reports detailing legislation being introduced in various states that would somehow improve the locksmith industry through licensing efforts; the handwriting was on the wall and yet we turned a blind eye to it.

We really didn’t have much choice, go along with being licensed or be legislated out of business; the wheels of “progress” (socialism) had been set in motion. The folks at the top didn’t like the old image of some guy wearing overalls fiddling with a piece of hardware; they saw this as an opportunity to wave the magic wand of bureaucracy over our industry and call it a profession. Tinkerers who could work a piece of metal into a working key were pushed aside in favor of technical advisors wearing three piece business suits explaining the virtues of political action committees.

The problem with licensing the locksmith industry was obvious, at least it was to me; it turned a free market enterprise into a state run bureaucracy in which the individual no longer was master of his/her destiny. It has proven to be a train wreck destroying individual rights ever since .

The ALOA has moved ever further away from its mission to educate locksmiths regarding techniques to bypass lock mechanisms and manipulation of hardware over the years. We now get updated legislative news, wiring diagrams, computer linking hints and video surveillance industry updates; and yes, an occasional locksmith related article to satisfy old timers like me.

Locksmiths have been marginalized in favor of ALOA’s broader mission, representing a conglomerate of security industries to include alarm servicing and remote camera surveillance installation and maintenance. I figure it’s time to get back to basics; if the ALOA won’t represent locksmiths then form a new body, one which reflects the fiercely independent individual tradesman/businessmen who make a living tinkering with locks.

I looked on the internet for a group to satisfy the need; mostly to see what name to run with, not wishing to accidentally borrow a name already in use. There was a group over in the UK, Independent Locksmith Association, which came close to what I had in mind. It lacked the American “spit in your eye” individualism I was looking for so as of today, July 1, 2010 I’m creating the Fiercely Independent Locksmith of America (FILOA).

I will be looking for fellow locksmiths to join with me in establishing a set of bylaws, a constitution if you will, that will encourage other locksmiths to consider such an undertaking. There have to be plenty of disgusted members of other locksmith associations, folks ready to “step outside” and duke it out with the endless bureaucracy minded leadership we now face. There will be an official site, banner and mission statement along with articles directed towards improving locksmith skills. I look forward to working with other locksmiths who are fed up with being fed up. Drop me a line in the comment section or get with me via email; I’m not hard to find, T. F. Stern.

This was originally posted at TF Stern's Rantings.