Harmony and mutual respect sounds nice, but the further you get in the more you see that it's mostly just lip service.
I didn't bring up martial effectiveness at all. It's one way to go - I don't know that it would a basis for keeping the current organization alive. I appreciate the "big tent" stuff - but I don't think that it's going to be enough of a benefit to keep people paying the "big fees" in the future. And that's really the way it should be, IMO, the Aikikai will have to figure out a way to deliver real benefits or die trying. Hereditary privilege went out with Kings and Emperors - I don't see much reason to bring it back.
Is it the size of the fees that's the problem? If the fees were lower, would it be worth paying them to keep the tent up? I can't quite tell if you're criticizing the actual institution or just the cost.
As far as the hereditary privilege goes, it does have the advantage of being a simple way to decide a leader. I don't think it would be an improvement if we were to have to vote on the new Doshu and have campaigning and whatnot. I can imagine a lot of competition and division.
As you have pointed out before, Aikikai membership is really a voluntary thing at this point. Why don't we turn it around and ask why people are paying the "big fees" now, even though they don't receive much in the way of direct tangible benefits? Is it just blind loyalty, or do you think those people believe that they are supporting something worthwhile?
Finally, where do you think all of that money is going? I always assumed it mostly went toward running things (i.e. keeping the tent up), but I've never really asked anyone about it. Do you have any insights?
On another note, in case you haven't noticed, hereditary privilege never "went out". It just changed its name to "capitalism". The rich still stay rich and the poor still clean the stables.