Monday, December 28, 2009

A note on the 2010 Libertarian National Convention

As most readers of KN@PPSTER probably already know, the Libertarian Party's 2010 national convention will be held in St. Louis over several days spanning Memorial Day weekend.

As some of you have probably gathered, I've started a blog, St. Louis on the Cheap, with an eye toward making it cheaper for Libertarians to attend that national convention.

I've heard from several sources that the subject came up at the Libertarian National Committee's meeting in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this month, and that Admiral Michael Colley (USN-Ret.), an at-large member of the LNC and its convention point man, expressed a worry that my little project might hurt the convention hotel's bottom line.

While I don't think that worry is warranted, I also don't think it's unreasonable -- it deserves a considered response. Here's how I see it:

My main purpose in pursuing this project is to allow people who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend the convention to do so. If that's the main effect the project has, then it should enhance, rather than harm, revenues for both the LP and the convention hotel. More convention packages (possibly the lower-priced ones, but more in any case) will be sold. More attendees will drop money at the hotel bar or the attached Starbucks coffee shop, and so forth.

Let me repeat myself: My project is aimed at people who simply won't attend the convention if they aren't able to cut the costs of doing so. That may or may not include: Staying at a cheaper hotel; eating at a fast food place down the street instead of at the hotel's pricier restaurant; grabbing mass transit for $4.50 instead of blowing $40-50 in cab fare to and from the airport or paying a sizable daily parking fee at the hotel; etc., etc. Spending several days in a city away from home is expensive. I'm just trying to make it less expensive so that more Libertarians can afford to do it.

If these additional people attend the convention, they will bring money with them, and they will spend some of it in the convention's environs. Not as much money as the people who have no problem ponying up for the deluxe package, renting a suite at the convention hotel for five nights, and taking each meal in the convention hotel's well-appointed restaurant, but every dime they bring will be a dime that wouldn't have been there otherwise.

Yes, there will be some people who would and will attend whether I was helping them find cheaper ways to do so or not, and they may also make use of some of my money-saving tips. I understand that this may result in the LP and/or the convention hotel taking in a little less money here and there than would otherwise have been the case.

I don't have a problem with that. I hope no one else does, either. While it's obviously a good thing for the LP to stay "in the black" for its convention, and for the convention venue's operators to be glad they had us as guests, it's also a good thing for Libertarians (like everyone else) to find, and get, the best deals they can on the things they want and need -- that's the free market, ladies and gentlemen. And while I can't guarantee that the hoped-for additional attendance will more than balance that possible effect out and produce a net financial benefit for the LP and the convention hotel, I think there's a good chance that it will. Hopefully this will be at least a minor win for everyone.

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