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Category Archives: Cryonics
Aschwin de Wolf writes:
"For most of its history Alcor used to be rather transparent about staff member salaries in its communications and the magazine. It may not be a coincidence that this practice disappeared during the period when Alcor saw substantial increases in compensation for (some of) its staff members. To give some perspective, the old Tim Freeman Cryonics FAQ included the following question and answer:
7-2. Is anyone getting rich from cryonics? What are the salaries at these organizations like?
In December 1990, Cryonics magazine reported that the Board of Directors of Alcor voted a 25% pay cut for all of the staff, so they could keep their budget balanced. Many of the Directors are also on the staff. The salaries after the cut ranged from $22,500 annually for the highest paid full-time employee (the President) to $14,400 for the lowest-paid full-time employee. None of the Alcor staff are getting rich from their salaries.
It would be a worthwhile undertaking to do a comprehensive study of Alcor’s staff and consultant compensation history and policies (or lack thereof). There is never a shortage of arguments to justify higher compensation and ad-hoc decision making in cryonics, but it is doubtful that generous salary increases in the industry over the years were necessary to recruit or retain competent staff members. It might even be argued that a number of problems in cryonics are actually linked to offering wages that exceed what the employees who receive them would otherwise earn in the market place. Similarly, substantial cost savings can be obtained by increasing productivity and decreasing staff members. Issues of compensation and staff efficiency should be essential topics of consideration in any serious discussion about Alcor becoming more self-sustaining and less dependent on wealthy donors." http://www.depressedmetabolism.com/2009/09/22/the-future-of-alcor/
(Emphasis added. It might even be argued that many of the recipients of overly-generous salaries, at cryonics organizations, would not be offered any salary at all, in a conventional medical, or scientific, setting.)
To see Alcor's salaries, and other expenses, look for their Form 990's, here: http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/990finder/
2008 shows Tanya Jones (listed as "Exec Dir, CEO, President COO) being paid $83,797 and receiving an additional $5,627 in "Other compensation." If you add up all the salaries listed on Alcor's 2008 Form 990, you get $196,362, which is reported on page 10, line 5, of that report. Just below that figure, on page 10, line 7, you will see "Other salaries and wages" of $270,538. Whom did that money go to? The same situation exists, in 2007, with $203,825 going to named staff members, and $283,286 going to "other."
I'm not going to take the time to go back, any further. Maybe Alcor has a valid reason for providing mysterious "Other salaries and wages" far in excess of those provided to the named staff members. If so, I'm sure some Alcor members would like to know what that reason is, and where that money is going.
The total salaries at Suspended Animation, of Boynton Beach, Florida, (primarily funded by Life Extension Foundation (LEF)), are far in excess of those being paid, at Alcor, in spite of SA having less named "Officers, Directors and Trustees," than Alcor, at last count. I think it's safe to assume the LEF-funded salaries at Critical Care Research and 21st Century Medicine are comparable to, or in excess of, those being paid by Alcor. Why are people with so few qualifications amongst them, being paid so much money? This situation seems to have more to do with "loyalty," rather than qualifications and/or competency.
This has been one of the funniest weeks on the Cold Filter forum, ever! First, a few people made fools out of themselves, trying to pretend I committed libel, in my post about Alcor membership dues, which clearly does not contain any libelous remarks. (See previous post.)
Now, we have Charles Platt, of all people, advising the CF moderator, on how to avoid being held responsible for charges of defamation. That's hilarious!!! As everyone might recall, Platt and I used to work together, at Suspended Animation. Sometime after that, during 2007, Platt was working with Steve Harris MD, (Alcor's Chief Medical Advisor), at Critical Care Research. At that time, Harris posted a lot really stupid blatant lies, about my work at SA, though he didn't really know me, and had never worked with me or even visited the SA building while I was working there. He posted these lies...yup, you guessed it...on the Cold Filter forum. It was obvious where the lies came from, so I threatened to sue everyone from Kent on down, if Platt did not publish some sort of retraction, and apologize. Platt hired an attorney and posted this, which clearly proves the stories Harris was publishing on the Cold Filter forum were false.
Now, we have Platt advising the Cold Filter moderator, on how to avoid being involved in a defamation suit??? Is it just me, or is that just really weird and funny? If anyone has ever brought the CF moderator to the brink of a defamation lawsuit, it was when Harris libeled me, with false information he, very obviously, got from Platt! After all that, Platt feels he is someone who should be advising the CF moderator on avoiding defamation charges? Seriously...that's BEYOND hilarious...it doesn't get much funnier than this!
There were some very interesting reactions to my recent post on the Cold Filter forum, regarding Alcor's membership dues. I pondered why anyone should pay membership dues, to Alcor, given that they are known to provide "last minute" services, to people who have never signed up for Alcor's services, much less paid membership dues. For example, they provided services to legendary baseball hero, Ted Williams, at the time of his death, at the request of his son, though Ted Williams had never filled out Alcor's paperwork, or paid membership dues. This is just one of many examples in which Alcor has provided services to people who have never paid membership dues. I know of at least one recent cryopreservation they performed, free of charge, and I suspect there are many others. It's my opinion that they do these cases for the sake of publicity, and I consider such cases to be a "slap in the face," to the dues-paying Alcor members, who have diligently filled out their paperwork, and have their insurance in place. (See my previous blog entry, on this topic.)
First, "FD" responded to my post, alluding to the inherent dangers of blogging. (He seems to think I'm too stupid, to have considered possible repercussions.) When I responded that he should let the people I write about make their own threats, he responded with an even more detailed expression of "concern," asking if I have media-publishing insurance, and pondering whether a judgment would be limited to the amount of my coverage, or if someone might get my insurance "PLUS all (my) life savings." (Either FD really IS threatening me, or he really DOES think I'm stupid.) He goes on to mention my blog index, as though I don't know it's there.
Then Mathew Sullivan, of Suspended Animation, seemed to be praying to the gods, (okay, so they're only "the powers that be," in an extremely small population), in a really weird post, for someone to take action against me, for what I wrote. If Mathew knew what I thought about that, maybe he wouldn't pray so hard.
Are Mathew and FD so arrogant, they believe no one else on the forum will realize they were not really giving me "friendly" advice? Surely, no one who has been reading my CF posts and my blog entries, for the last three-and-a-half years, thinks I am too stupid to realize I am responsible for my own words. I've even stated, on numerous occasions, (which I am sure FD and Mathew are aware of), that I am willing to stand behind my opinions, in any court in this land. How much more clear could I make it for them? Did either of them really think anyone was going to fall for that "we were just trying to help her with some friendly advice, and the moderator fussed at us, boo-hoo, wah, wah, wah" routine? If they thought I, or anyone else, would believe FD was genuinely concerned about my financial welfare, I'm going to have to question their intelligence.
The most interesting part of the discussion was when the moderator stepped in and indicated people had been threatening to sue him, if he did not "delete certain posts," which I can only assume to be mine, since I haven't threatened any such action against him, (at least, not recently). Now that we see Platt's post, we can only assume Mr. Platt was the person making threats against the moderator. Why are Platt, Sullivan and FD, making threats, in response to a post I made about Alcor? None of them work at Alcor, as far as I know, (though the anonymous FD might work there, I suppose), and none of them were mentioned in the post they are reacting, so strongly, to. Isn't Alcor capable of speaking for their own organization, and doesn't Alcor have plenty of attorneys, working on their behalf?
FD, Sullivan, Platt, et. al. are just trying to intimidate the CF moderator, and me, and it's just plain silly. Why should we take such warnings from those three individuals, seriously? One of them has a very long history of people accusing him of being less than honest, and one of them is anonymous. If Alcor, or anyone else, was going to sue the CF moderator, or me, I'm sure we would be receiving letters from attorneys, not "friendly advice," on Cold Filter.
I don't know about the CF moderator, but the minute I get any sort of legal notice, I am going to immediately "lawyer up," call the media, and file whatever counter-suits might be available to me. If any of my CF posts, or blog entries, (all of which I consider to be "free speech," and none which I consider to be legally "actionable"), are removed from the Internet, I will add "call the ACLU" to my list.
I'm wondering if people think my forum posts and blog entries have not been backed up and made ready to publish elsewhere, when they ask the CF moderator to remove them. Also, have they considered the possibility of others archiving my posts? I know, for a fact, someone was archiving my every published word, at least up until less than a year ago, and not at my request, (and it wasn't Johnson). I don't know, or care, if they are still doing so.
I believe there's a very long history, in cryonics, of people attempting to prevent the airing of "dirty laundry," with scare tactics, which are very transparent and tiresome. If someone wants to sue me, they should have their lawyer call my lawyer. Otherwise, these empty threats and attempts to quash my free speech, (from persons not even officially connected to the organization I have been criticizing), only encourage me to write more, (as should be obvious, at this point).
Why would anyone pay dues to Alcor? They've proven, time-and-time-again, there's really no need to. Just throw a grease-stained note in your trunk, and find a relative to promise payment to Alcor in the event of your demise. Alcor will rush right over, to pick you up in a private jet. (Or does that only work for legendary baseball heroes?) Did Ted Williams ever pay membership dues? Not that I know of, so why should anyone else?
How about Mary Robbins? Was she paying Alcor membership dues, just prior to her death? Her family claimed she had changed her mind, about cryopreservation. Wouldn't knowledge, regarding whether she had been paying her Alcor dues, or not, have been evidence of her continued interest, (or lack, thereof)? Alcor successfully argued, in a court of law, that Ms. Robbins' contract was required to be revoked in writing, which it had not been. So, Alcor was able to collect their "anatomical gift," even though they, subsequently, elected not to pursue the collection of the cryopreservation fee. Interesting! Ms. Robbins may have been paying her dues, but she didn't pay for her cryopreservation. Fancy that! Why should anyone pay Alcor, for anything, since they are so willing to give away their services? What other companies, (if any), operating under the UAGA, requires people to pay for "donating" an anatomical "gift," anyway? That's bizarre.
I'm not a lawyer, but isn't it true that a party cannot use an argument to win a legal decision, and then use the same argument to win a contradictory decision, in another court? (I think there's a name for this...I just can't think of it, at the moment.) In other words, Alcor won the battle over the possession of Ms. Robbins' "anatomical gift," by proving she had not revoked her gift, in writing. So, I'm wondering, if someone else, (or everyone else, for that matter), who has made arrangements for an Alcor cryopreservation, was to quit paying their membership dues, how successful would Alcor be at arguing that they were not obligated to perform a cryopreservation, because a person had failed to pay their membership dues? Maybe Alcor can cancel their contracts, in writing. Would they? If they have John Doe signed up for a $150,000 procedure, and he doesn't pay his "$478 annually or $120 quarterly," do they cancel his contract, in writing? It's a fascinating question, isn't it?
"Transparency" is a word you hear, a lot, in cryonics. How transparent is it, to fly across the country to pick up a celebrity, who has never paid a penny in membership dues, or bothered to fill out Alcor's paperwork? Pretty darn transparent, if you ask me. How transparent is it, to accept other last-minute cases, performing procedures for people who have never paid membership dues? Crystal clear, again, in my opinion. So, I ask, "Why should ANYONE pay Alcor's membership dues?"
Of course, the REAL question is, "Why should anyone pay Alcor for their pseudo-medical procedures, at all?" For $150,000, you might get something like a dialysis tech playing vascular-/neuro- surgeon, and something like this: http://cryomedical.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-of-alleged-ted-williams-case.html By the way, how much did they make Ted Williams' family pay? According to several accounts, they accidentally cut off his head, making him a "neuro" case, even though his son had signed him up for the "whole body" procedure, which costs nearly double the price of a "neuro." (Current Alcor prices are $80K for a "neuro," and $150K for a "whole body.")
Alcor has been around for approximately 40 years, and it looks, to me, like they charge some really high fees, while not promising anyone with even a high school diploma, much less any sort of medical credentials, will show up to attempt to preserve their members' brains. Their Chief Medical Advisor has proven over, and over, and over, again, he doesn't have a complete understanding of vascular cannulations and perfusion, (the medical procedures required to deliver preservative solutions to all the cells of the body). What a joke.
I think it's time for Alcor to improve their services, and thinking along those lines, maybe it's time for some "passive resistance." After all, "money talks," so maybe there are Alcor members out there, willing to let their membership dues speak to Alcor's directors. OH...and if you get some polite request, from Alcor, asking you to sign documents, revoking your cryopreservation contract...well, I suggest you make note of the Williams' and Robbins' cases, and other "last-minute-not-really-signed-up-for-Alcor's services" cases, and consult with your attorney.
From AmSECT's website:
"CODE OF ETHICS
The purpose of a code of ethics is to acknowledge a profession's acceptance of the responsibility and trust conferred upon it by society and to recognize the internal obligations inherent in that trust...
Members must uphold the dignity and honor of the profession, accept its disciplines and expose without hesitation illegal, unethical and incompetent conduct.
...b.The member has a personal, as well as a professional, obligation to protect and safeguard the patients from illegal and/or unethical actions or the incompetence of any person...
Members shall provide only those services for which they are qualified. Members shall not misrepresent in any manner, either directly or indirectly, their skills, training, professional credentials, identity or services." (Are you paying attention, cryonics "surgeons" and "perfusionists" and other "medical personnel" or "patient care providers"? I know, I know, your "patients" are dead, but still...)
a.Members will accept responsibility for the exercise of sound judgment in the delivery of services to the patient and shall be accountable for the quality of the service provided.
b.Members will provide accurate information about the profession, and services they provide, as well as the members' own qualifications.
c.The members shall not engage in practices beyond their competence or training...
Members shall maintain and promote high standards for...education, research and scientific presentations and/or publications..."
If A, publicly, says to B: "Didn't you do X, when you told us Y happened?" A is implying B previously stated Y actually did happen.
If Platt calls Alcor and asks people to look in Johnson's file, for an NDA, (as he is said to have done), he's implying there actually was one, (when it's extremely doubtful one ever existed).
When Platt called Suspended Animation and asked someone to look in my file for an NDA, (as he is said to have done), he was implying one actually existed, (when no such document ever existed).
When Harris, (who was working with Platt at the time), writes the false statement that my SA file was kept in my office (it wasn't), and my (non-existent) NDA disappeared along with me, when I resigned, it's clear where he's getting his false information from, since Platt worked with me, at SA.
When Platt publicly responds to something I wrote with, "Didn't you express contrition, when you told us that your therapist suggested it would be a good idea to let go of your anger?" he is implying I stated a therapist told me to let go of my anger (when nothing remotely close to that has ever happened, so I certainly made no such statement).
The moral of the story is: "Sometimes people who have a habit of lying spew forth their garbage in the form of questions."
Or, maybe: "Beware of questions from a cryonicist, well-known for producing fiction."