Beware of trade guilds maintaining the status quo

I am not a member of the Author's Guild.

Please don't blame me for their ludicrous positions. They have spoken out against public libraries, against used book stores online and now, against the Kindle reading books aloud.

I used to have a record label, but I never joined the RIAA. You know, the guys that under Hilary Rosen made the multi-billion dollar mistake of trying to maintain the status quo by suing their users as a way of stopping file sharing. It's hard to overestimate how damaging relying on this single action was to an entire industry.

I've eaten in restaurants, but I don't support the New York State Restaurant Association, which has spoken out against banning smoking in restaurants (it will wipe us out!) and now are giving the New York City health department a hard time for wanting to post easy-to-understand ratings of restaurant cleanliness.

I drive a car, but I deplore the lobbying the car companies did to fight fuel efficiency rules–the very rules that would have transformed their industry and raised their profits.

Whenever a trade association raises the barricades and tries to lobby their way into maintaining the status quo, they are doing their members a disservice. Instead of spending time and insight and effort reinventing what they do and organizing for a better future, the members are lulled into a sense of security that somehow, somehow, the future will be just like today.

The key takeaway isn't that the lobbying doesn't work (though it usually doesn't). The problem is that the lobbying takes your attention away from the changes you can actually control and implement. Simple example: why doesn't the NYSRA have a staff of unofficial inspectors who help their members get an A when the real inspector comes around? Why didn't the RIAA help the record industry figure out how to transform into an industry that would embrace and leverage file sharing?

You don't have to like change to take advantage of it.