Prior to packing my bags for the AHA in New York, I made my arrangements for the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting in Seattle, March 25-29, 2009. Recalling the last few conferences I have attended, my travel allotment has not in any way kept pace with what it actually costs to attend the meeting. This one truly blows the bank, since I am currently $100.00 over budget (a budget that assumes I will split my room with a friend -- hell, a these prices, I'll share my room with a foe) without having eaten anything, parked at the airport, or signed up for the hotel internet service, which is about the cheesiest thing for a supposedly classy hotel to charge for, in my opinion.
Toting up the actual bill for all of this, I'm thinking that it would be about the same price to hold the conference in Paris. And the only way to save real money would be to hold it in Oaxaca or Mexico City. Not a bad idea either, come to think about it.
This makes me think: imagine the people who have no conference money. One topic that needs to be on the agenda of all academic professional associations is that the rising cost of everything, and the shrinking or nonexistent budgets of those who do not work for R1 schools, or SLACS that value professional development enough to pay for it, is how scholars are hampered in their careers when they don't have access to conference and research funds. It is a discussion long overdue, but perhaps the economic crunch will cause us to begin thinking about it at last.