Saturday, July 19, 2008

Economic justice AWOL at Netroots Nation conference

Which means economic justice for everyone in the United States regardless of color or ethnicity, taking into account the historic inequities between whites and minorities regarding money and power. At Netroots Nation, which is billing itself as being the convention that any and all Progressive bloggers should be attending, there are only seven events that directly address economic inequality, including events on corporate behavior that have an economic focus. That doesn't sound too bad until you consider that there are 140 events in total. There's enough time for a "Second LIfe caucus", but obviously not enough for social equality, although there is a "Labor Caucus" meeting .If you add that in the total of eight events constitutes 17.5% of the total number. That includes caucuses and keynote speakers.

Here are the descriptions of the seven:

"Growing the American Dream Movement
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 9:00AM, Ballroom E
A record number of working Americans believe that the American Dream is out of reach. Shockingly, 69 percent believe it will be even harder for their children to achieve the Dream than it was for them. However, an "American Dream Movement"—progressives of all stripes who understand that the interconnected nature of the challenges we face requires a comprehensive set of solutions—has already begun to grow. Join us for a discussion of this movement—its goals, direction, and tactics—with progressive leaders and others with a stake in restoring the American Dream for everyone."

"Middle class isn't middle of the road: Take politicians’ populist shpeil and make it real
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 10:30AM, Ballroom F
We know that populism wins elections, but once a politician wins how do we make sure that pro-middle class policies are actually implemented? Blue Dogs and the media conflate being pro-middle class with being “centrist”.
The debt stricken, under-insured public's realization that their personal economic struggles are really political struggles presents an opportunity for lasting progressive change. Barack Obama's agenda includes healthcare and transportation among other investments in our country that the middle class needs-- but these aren't free. How can the netroots mobilize to make it politically possible to pass Obama's domestic agenda in a Grover Norquist-shaped world?"

"Time for Action: How the Netroots Can Lead on Healthcare Reform
SAT, 07/19/2008 - 10:30AM, Ballroom G
Will healthcare reform be delivered to the American people? Not if we sit by and don't take action. This panel brings together fierce advocates of healthcare reform. You'll meet Nataline Sarkisyan's mother, who turned her grief into action. A cancer surgeon struggling with a rising tide of insurance company denials. A politician spearheading civil and criminal investigations into insurance industry practices. A trauma nurse/activist. And a policy expert with answers."

"The Subprime Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis: Inside an American Tragedy
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 1:30PM, Ballroom G
This panel will explain the economics of the subprime mortgage meltdown and the subsequent foreclosure crisis. It will go on to describe the political and social conditions that gave rise to these phenomena. Panelists will discuss progressive responses to predatory lending and rising rates of foreclosure nationwide, including organizing campaigns, legal challenges and legislative proposals. Panelists will also offer a progressive messaging campaign and blogosphere actions that can help change the current set of assumptions and debate on the subprime crisis."

"How Corporations and the Politicians they Fund are Fighting to Take Away our Legal Rights … and Convincing Us it’s for the Best
FRI, 07/18/2008 - 3:00PM, Ballroom G
Tort "reforms" protect the Exxons and Enrons of the world, leaving regular Americans high and dry if we're ever harmed by corporate misconduct. Conservative think tanks and the industries that fund them work hard to convince Americans that these policies are good for us, our economy, and our legal system. How can progressives work together to inform and mobilize the public around the right's stealth attack on our rights? Panelists discuss their groundbreaking work, and together examine why and how the left must work on- and off-line to build a stronger movement for civil justice."

"Taking the Populist Uprising to the States

SAT, 07/19/2008 - 3:00PM, Room 12
This panel will explore how the progressive populist uprising in which the Netroots plays such a central role is fighting the right at the state level. This state-level battle is a major focus of David Sirota's new book "The Uprising," which chronicles how progressives in the Montana legislature are taking on some of the most powerful bastions of the conservative coalition and winning. It is also the reason why the Progressive States Network exists. The panel will use real-world case-studies to show how state legislatures are some of the most important arenas in which the progressive uprising is unfolding."

"The Social Democratic Movement
SAT, 07/19/2008 - 4:30PM, Room 19
“Liberalism is, I think, resurgent,” John Kenneth Galbraith once said. “The reason is so many people are aware of the alternative.” Among the many forces contributing to a progressive resurgence is the simple realities of the situation: the underlying facts of the economy, of the health system, of our financial system demand a return of communally guaranteed security, rather than continued increases in risk. To understand this shift in the underlying dynamics, and how far it’s gone, is to take a very different view of what’s possible for progressives in the coming years."

The lack of speakers and panels on economic justice in a movement that says that it's putting forward a Progressive Agenda is indicative of bloggers as a whole, who tend to be upper income and closer to the elite, no matter what the color of their skin is.
The ones that are present are framed as reclaiming the dream of the middle class, something that's sort of quaint when you realize that middle class is an idea in the United States so broad that people who make next to nothing and people who make twice the national average of $33,000 a year both consider themselves to be middle class.

Also somewhat surprising is the general lack of events on corporations as a whole. While it's nice that four out of seven events are about a movement for economic justice (plus the Labor Caucus which bridges provides a bridge between corporate and movement stuff) it's kind of strange that particular corporate abuses are no where to be found outside of the context of the war and the Bush administration. There's one additional workshop out there having to do with medicine and the online world, which didn't seem to have much to do with much of anything relating to the conference. Beyond that not much on corporations doing bad things.

There are about a hundred things going wrong with the economy right now, and the Bush administration hasn't stopped corporations from continuing to centralize themselves and send jobs overseas; in fact, 9/11 and the two wars have allowed the forward motion of corporatization of the economy to continue unimpeded. Yet the blogging heads are blogging about themselves, the war, and token minority issues that get one workshop each.

The internet has made it much easier to write about politics and have people get the capability to read about them, but it's also meant that a lot of pretty conventional people who are just a fraction to the left of center have migrated onto the net along with the freaks, a term I use affectionately.

So goes the Netroots Nation conference.

Used to be called Yearly Kos and was organized by the people associated with the Daily Kos, so it's probably no surpise.

At least it's not the Atrios conference, where participants probably wallow in pig intestines and stupidity to try to get corporate shilling with a Philadelphia blunt attitude down pat.

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