"In 1897, the North American Review estimated that the average lodge member spent fifty dollars annually on dues and insurance, and two hundred dollars on initiation fees, ritualistic paraphernalia, banquets and travel; this at a time when the average factory worker earned just four hundred to five hundred dollars a year. "In 2015, $50 dues would be equal to $1436. And that $200 initiation, paraphernalia, banquet and travel budget would cost $5744 today. On an adjusted salary of $11,488 a year.
-- Mark C. Carnes, Secret Ritual and Manhood in Victorian America (Yale University Press, 1989).
Consider this from author Price Pritchett's 'Firing Up Commitment For Organizational Change' (Pritchett & Hull Associates, 1994). He wasn't writing about Masonry, but he might as well have been:
"The harder we have to struggle for something, the more precious it becomes. Somehow, in sacrificing, we prove to ourselves that what we're seeking is valuable.
"Initiation rites - like high walls and narrow gates of entry - build commitment to the group through making acceptance hard to come by. Being allowed to join becomes something special. An achievement. A privilege. And it creates a sense of exclusiveness.
"Belonging doesn't count much if almost anybody can drift in or drift out of your group at will. If it's easy to join up, then leave and return, only to leave again, commitment can be hard to find.
"Initiation rites also create a common bond of experience that unites all who make it through the ordeal. A strong sense of "we-ness" comes from having gone through a common struggle. This identification with the group feeds commitment.
"Finally, stiff criteria for admission cause the weak-hearted to de-select themselves. They opt out after weighing the costs. For them, the rights of membership aren't worth going through the rites of Initiation. The benefit? People with low commitment never get inside.
"The greater the personal investment in getting accepted, the more one builds a stake in the organization. This means you should make membership a big deal. Let people pay a price to join. That guarantees commitment at the outset, and also makes it easier to build commitment later on.
"Make membership hard to come by, and commitment comes naturally."