July 6, 2006
Results from first two Meet-Up Meetings
By Perry Willis

Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . .


First, a few words about parades, snowflakes, tiny creatures, and hard rocks . . .

What if each new day could be better than the last? Imagine how the progress would mount-up into a mighty mountain of success, like pennies doubling daily to create a vast fortune.

And what if the increments of progress came easy? What if you could constantly say to yourself, if I just do this one little thing, then today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today?

This is what we're trying to do at The goal of the organization is obvious from the name, so when I was recently asked what does, I responded with a non-obvious answer: "We improve the world by surfing the web and socializing."

It sounds absurd. It sounds impossible. But many successful ideas have exactly this characteristic. I've been reading about Einstein and how he penetrated deeply into the nature of the world by thinking about things in a silly way. Asked how he arrived at one of his theories he replied, "I ignored an axiom." In other words, he ignored a self-evident truth, and thereby arrived at a deeper insight.

It seems self-evident that achieving profound social change must be difficult. That it must be taxing, tiring, and fraught with peril. It seems self-evident that progress in such an endeavour must come in huge chunks if it is to happen at all. It seems self-evident that changes in government must come from changing the people who run the government. These things once seemed self-evident to me too. They no longer do.

* A politician is an opportunist looking for a parade to march in front of. Don't change the politicians, build the parade. Do it by forwarding the Downsizer-Dispatch to friends, and by socializing at RTBA Meet-Up Groups.

* The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once said, "No giant is a match for the combined forces of the dwarfs." Congress has gigantic powers, but those who want smaller government are massive in numbers. Build the army to slay the giant. Do it using the viral power of the Internet, and by socializing at RTBA Meet-Up groups.

* An avalanche is a large thing, but it is a built one tiny snowflake at a time. The scientist/writer C.P. Snow once observed that "No snowflake in an avalanche feels itself responsible." But DC Downsizers can be responsible snowflakes in a powerful avalanche. Do it by using the Internet to find new DC Downsizers, and to pound Congress with the weight of our combined snowflake avalanche. Do it by bringing friends to an RTBA Meet-Up Group.

* When DC Downsizers "surf the web and socialize" they are like the stonecutter the journalist Jacob A. Rils wrote of: "Look at a stonecutter hammering away at this rock, perhaps a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

The work you do through is exactly like that. It comes in small increments, like snow falling on a mountainside, like the band lining up for the parade, like dwarf ants disolving a giant carcass, like the relentless blows of the stonecutter.

Every easy thing you do through is an easy step toward a gigantic goal. Every step you take, no matter how small, brings us closer to that goal, and makes today better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today. This is why . . .


I behave like a snowflake every day. I apply my tiny pressure to Congress by using our Congressional Contact System. I adhere myself to other snowflakes by sending messages about Downsize DC to friends. I may be only a tiny snowflake, but I know I'm building a mighty avalanche. And all it takes is a few clicks on the Internet each day.

Now I'm adding socializing to my arsenal of snowflake weapons. I want all you snowflakes to set-up "Read the Bills Act" Meet-Up Groups in your areas. So I've led by example and established one in my own Congressional District.

I already have three members, and two of us got together for our first meeting on Monday, June 26th. We met at a Mexican restaurant (but a bar at happy hour would work as well).

Rick, the other member in attendance, is a cool guy. We got to know each other. I learned, for example, that he'd recently gotten married. I really enjoyed getting to know him.

It wasn't until half-way through our dinner that I turned the discussion to the Read the Bills Act (RTBA). Rick's a donor to He loves the RTBA. So we skipped right to what we're trying to accomplish. We talked briefly about the "No Legislation Without Representation Conference" and the "Congressional Invasion." Rick said he's going to DC to participate in the conference, and to see his Representative and his two Senators about RTBA. Well, so am I!

The goal for each Congressional district is _at least_ five people. Well, our district is nearly half-way there - after our first meeting! If every district in the country had a meeting like ours, we wouldn't be more than a month away from picking a date and site for our rally and invasion.

Rick and I set a date for our next meeting -- July 31. We set an attendance goal - to double our group to four people. We discussed specific friends we might invite. I'm also going to personally contact all the DC Downsizer's in my area and ask them to join our avalanche.

Now, as the facilitator, I paid Meetup for their service. It's worth it. The program really does a lot of things to make planning and announcing an event easier. It takes RSVPs. It automatically sends out reminders to group members by email. It gives a map to the event, and more. The best monthly rate for the service is available to someone who pays for six months up-front. That works out to $12 per month. I'm on a tight budget like everyone else, but I'm not having to pay this cost by myself.

Now, I need to say, I've personally raised over a million dollars in my career as an activist. I've raised money in front of rooms and trained others to do so. I'm proud to say that I raised $10,000 in one night from an audience of just 70 or so people. But there's nothing more difficult, even, awkward than asking just one person to pitch in for the costs. But Rick made it easy. He pulled out the smallest bill he had in his wallet, a ten, and just like that, paid for most of June.

DC Downsizers are great people. I suspect your experience will be the same. It was all that easy. A fantastic start, as far as I'm concerned. I can't wait until next month.


Paul Davis in Arizona is another responsible snowflake. He's also held his first RTBA Meet-Up Group. Here's his report:

"Two other people showed up for my meeting. They were both local political movers-and-shakers, so I was pleased. One was a county commissioner. The other was a local political consultant."

I don't know about you, but that gives me tingles. There are plenty of members of the political class who realize that our country is in trouble. That our system of representative government is broken. And two of them in Arizona clearly see RTBA as part of the answer. They took time from their busy schedules to participate in our growing avalanche. They also gave us some tips on how we can make our presentation of RTBA even more effective. We'll be making use of their advice.

See what can come from just socializing?


We need more people to start RTBA MeetUp Groups. You can learn how here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka President, Inc.

Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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