Same old, same old

I saw an impressive movie a while back, called "The Economics of Happiness." It's worth seeing - it's a great film, with really important things to say about what kinds of things we need to change in our economic system so that people can be happy, and find meaning in their lives. So I was really glad to hear that they were doing a conference, with all sorts of cool people. I was excited! That is, until I found out that the conference costs $300 (with, of course, discounts if you request them.)

And that's when I got dismayed, and thought to myself, "ah, this is just going to be the same old circle jerk."

Yeah, really. It's going to be the same, largely white, privileged audience, talking to each other, about this cool stuff, almost inevitably resulting in ideas that leave other people out, because other people are left out by design.

Now, of course, $300 isn't a HUGE amount of money - it's not like going to TED or something. But it still requires a certain amount of privilege to cough up that kind of dough, and having to ask for a discount is, frankly, an automatic turn-off for a lot of people without means. ($300 is, for your reference, more than a week's take-home for someone on minimum wage.)

And you might say, "But running a conference costs money. You have to rent the space, bring in the speakers, pay the caterers..." And you'd be right. Except what is this conference about? A radical restructuring of our economic system so that all people can benefit. If you're not willing to examine the privilege inherent in getting a bunch of people who can pony up that kind of money in order to attend a conference like that, how is it you think you'll change anything, really? If you're not willing to try something radically different so that anyone can attend no matter what their financial resources, then what's the point?


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