Building the progressive economy

As the recession deepened over the last few months, one thing I've worried about (among plenty of other things) is the toll that it would take on the progressive movement.  It's no secret that the movement runs on a shoe-string; a single hacker attack is enough to take out a pretty significant chunk of the infrastructure running the progressive blogosphere.  It seems inevitable that a wallet-emptying recession will slowly drain the spending ability of progressives, and thereby drag down our nascent institutions.

The key weakness within the progressive movement's business plan (forgetting, for a moment, that the progressive movement isn't a single, cohesive organization, and that many organizations within the movement don't have anything like a business plan in any case), is that a large part of our revenue relies on donations.  In a recession, voluntary donations are the easiest things to cut from a household budget.  A further weakness is the massive amount of money that leaves the progressive ecosystem.  In five years, ActBlue has raised $88 million; some of that has gone to necessary expenses in progressive campaigns and is money well-spent, although no doubt a significant part of that money ends up in the pockets of anti-progressive political consultants.  And some of that money does return to the progressive ecosystem, in the form of advertisements in progressive blogs, for example.  But on the whole, the progressive blogosphere leaks donations like a sieve, meaning that even the flush years don't leave us with a lot left over for recessions.

Fortunately, I believe it is possible to address these weaknesses, and to help keep the lights on during the recession.  Conceptually, it's fairly simple: diversify our business plan beyond donations, and design mechanisms to keep recycle more money back through the progressive ecosystem.  The particulars are a bit more tricky, but below I'll outline a few possibilities for implementing these high-level solutions.  Other ideas are certainly welcome; feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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KIVA microlending Update II: Integrated Internet Development Policy Revisited

In my last article on this topic, I reintroduced KIVA and showed how 1.) what they do really can help create successful small businesses in East Africa and how those businesses help the community in which they exist, and 2.) how our efforts on the blogsphere have helped KIVA become so successful that they cannot keep up with the outpouring of help. But they are also bringing on the businesses in need of loans faster than ever, so jeep checking back. Congratulations to all who are making this such a success.


In this diary I want to reiterate the context in which KIVA works and how we also have to help that context. This will partly be a reiteration of diaries I have written before, explaining why I am calling for an "integrated" approach to development that we in the blogsphere can participate in. This is my vision of how you and I can change the world from the bottom up.

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KIVA Microlending Update I: The Success of KIVA and the Blogs

It has been one of my little projects to develop within the blogsphere what I call an integrated approach to helping East Africa as a new vision for international development that can be applied anywhere the blogsphere wants to focus on. This approach was inspired by the wonderful efforts of KIVA, a microlending agency that connects small businesses with small investors like you and me. My intention has been to build on the idea of KIVA, creating an integrated context in which KIVA's efforts will be all the more effective. I will reiterate that contextual approach. But first, I think it is good to show just how successful our efforts can really be.

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Diaries

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