The spam filter here at Typepad seems awfully over-active lately, putting many things in spam for no discernible reason. And I am busy working and usually can't come in more than once a day at night to pluck people out of the spam file.
I don't pre-censor any comment, and any comment goes up first before being removed. Comments can be hateful, insulting, and horrible -- and even anonymous, for one round. Then they can continue to be hateful, insulting and horrible if they like -- it's all ok -- but they just have to put a first and second valid SL name. That's rule no. 1 here. And rule no. 2 is that they can't incite damages against myself and others. And that's understood as really something severe, i.e. threatening a libel lawsuit or calling on everyone to grief somebody's land.
So go over to the picture of the land in Brown for some of the discussion that was caught, but let me reiterate it here:
I very much defend land flippers. Land flippers are legitimate and necessary in a liberal democracy with free enterprise and an open market.
We don't really have a true open market or capitalism or democracy in Second Life. So what? We have *enough of a metaphor for it* to make use of the principles. Der, we get it that Second Life is made by a company and they can "do what they want" and that may include controlling the economy with fierce socialist glee (which also may help that company's own bottom line in that *other* economy they are located in, called "real life".
We are in a kind of snow globe, of course, in our little SL economy, but the Lindens have always made much of the land market, the land model for the economy, and recognize that for both their *own* economy and the world's economy, land sales and rentals are a HUGE part.
Of course, there's a lot of socialism built into this stuff, over the years. An early example of socialism was the "first land" program that created a segregated area of land for newbies for only $1/meter, that only they could purchase -- just once -- when they made a new account.
But that got gamed, as land flippers made numerous accounts to buy first land and flip it, especially if it was near a telehub or waterfront. The Lindens eventually ended the program for that reason -- too many non-newbies were making numerous accounts and flipping land, or using bots to show up for land when the Lindens would turn it over inworld. The first-land areas of sims were total swamps, as well -- with a few exceptions, like Obscure, most sims spotted with first-land patches like postage stamp sheets ended up getting blight on their sim as new people rezzed out ugly crap, spinning junk in the sky, huge towers, giant phalluses, crashed vehicles, ugly untextured prims, blah blah.
The Lindens could have fixed this problem by making their offering good only on continguous sims that consisted only of that kind of land, so that everyone surrounding those patches wasn't harmed. But they didn't.
The flippers then emerged to help rescue those blighted sims, linking together land that was either abandoned and they picked up, or which they persuaded newbies to sell -- earning widespread hatred for paying them perhaps only twice or three times what they originally paid. But they then linked up the 512s and turned them into larger properties that then more earnest newbies who were householders and settlers rather than sandboxers tried to turn into better properties -- or else oldbies got them.
The war between sandboxers -- people who think that "the whole world is their canvas" and they should just plunk down anything they wish anywhere because it doesn't matter -- and settlers, people who take "your world, your imagination" to mean also civilized little hamlets or orderly towns and cities -- is never-ending in SL, and the Lindens have usually only taken the side of the sandboxers.
But the larger picture of land-flipping is related to the socialist hate of the real estate agent as an entrepreneur and capitalist that largely emanates from Sluniverse.com, which is, of course, largely left-leaning and even markedly Marxist, as you find from looking in the sections especially for "real life" topics.
So, not surprisingly, we get a typical anti-land-flipper screed from someone named "Whisper" in Slun the other day.
What her argument really boils down to is this: "There was land I wanted on my sim to expand my own holdings but some flipper bought it and set it to a price I can't afford and don't want to pay."
That's all. She doesn't value the land sufficiently to pay the flipper's price, she doesn't do the math and just move to another sim -- of which there are plenty! -- to get larger land holdings, perhaps even selling her existing parcel to that self-same flipper for a good price (!). Instead, she tries to universalize her particularity -- which is a non-problem, really -- into a policy that should be imposed on everyone: no land flipping. No one should ever, ever put land out at a higher price than I want to pay for it!
You never know when you see these sorts of engineered threads whether the Lab is making fake accounts and whipping up sentiment to try to ready the public for some new awful policy they are thinking of (like removing the land market).
In this case, the Whisperer shot herself in the foot by knocking some of the royals there at Sluniverse-Sharia, and got hated on. But not before dumping on land barons and getting the usual sympathy, especially from people who should know better, like Ayesha of Solace Beach. Since she's hawking island/estate land, she did the knee-jerk thing Desmond always does, and dumped on the mainland.
Let's go over again why land-flippers have to be defended.
It's not just for the abstract reason of allowing freedom in a free market -- if you can't allow everybody to buy and sell as they wish, you're not free. If you say "you can't flip land if we don't like you and don't think you should get to do that," there's no freedom. Freedom is essential for free enterprise, obviously.
Land flippers are then usually defended with the "liquidity" argument. Land flippers buy land "just any time" when you are desperate to unload it. Of course, this was more the case in past years than it is today, when the flipper is now competing against Governor Linden's vast stores of $1/m abandoned resold land. (And that's why there are less flippers.)
Even so, land flippers are still around for the better parcels to pay you more than $1/m if your land is worth that -- but not the $7.5/m you tried to set it to. They might pay you $2 or $3 or $4 even.
There's another side to all this, however, that people don't think about. It's something I realized long, long ago in Furness, where Anshe Chung had bought all the land. And that is that the big land barons enabled the development of SL. They themselves developed it. But they also, by buying with bulk-tier discounts and having volume sales -- enabled smaller land dealers like me to go slower. I could buy one 512 today, when I was ready to expand out my fledgling rentals. Then next month, another 512. They sat there all that time, waiting for me to buy them, with Anshe, not me, paying the tier on them. She didn't need to flip them at a lower price -- she could afford to keep paying tier and wait for that higher price. That was the key to much of SL development on the mainland. Land barons bought whole sims. They chopped them up. Or they bought the larger parcels put on the auction, and they held them and paid the tier on them until someone would buy them for an even higher price.
So if, say, Beetle Bailey has bought somebody's abandoned land, or low-priced land in Palomarian, where I have some other rentals, and takes this 2048 m2 and puts a price tag of $4/meter on it in PG, next to a Linden bridge and some nice views and homes, he's actually performing a public service. He's holding that land until someone values it at that slightly higher price (or four times the Governor Linden socialist price) will pay it -- and the chances are, having paid that, will keep it good-looking. The higher the land price, the more the chances are that the person who buys it won't put spinning crap and glowing purple towers and junk yards, but something better to look at. It sits there, and perhaps eventually I might justify buying it. His business may be just getting by, I don't know. He has some good land and sells it at a good price and maybe makes a fair piece of change. Good!
Because the third thing about the land business, whether rentals or sales, is that it is *the heart of the economy*. If you have something that people can come in and do readily, and can make money doing it, you have an entry level job, so to speak, that doesn't require content creation with its more intricate skills. Some of it might involve content manipulation -- making a nice landscape or selling it with a nice house (although that idea never really caught on). But basically, what the land business is, is a way for other people than programmers and digital designers to join the economy. That's priceless. Otherwise, you would have a Renaissance Faire, as Chip Midnight always lovingly spoke of it -- and wished for it to come into being.
There are some content creators -- and users -- who would love the idea that land always had to cost only $1/meter no matter where it was sold on the users' chain -- at auction, from Governor Linden, from a land baron -- that it have some built-in inability to be sold for anything but $1 (or why not $0).
Philip Linden would love that, and so might Mitch Kapor. They are devotees of the open source cult and want everything to be free that is a setting for the world -- the software itself, the browser, the land. Then only content -- "rich content" -- if you will, will cost something, and then they take a cut of the currency sales.
It's the California Business Model in the round, so to speak -- free platform, free uploads, free everything -- to make the setting where the ads (or currency) can be sold. And content is an add-on to that.
Of course, the first thing that would happen if you made all land a dollar is that you would lose what leverage you have to make the Mainland nice. But more to the point, you would completely gut out the economy. Everyone in SL in the economy in the land business would be completely knocked out and undercut. Only content creators and service providers (and these include sex workers) would thrive. That's a world some would like to hasten into existence, as they hate land as a commodity. They loathe the idea that "unskilled" people who "don't add value" (in their view) are even in the economy. They'd much rather have *only* in the economy people who make stuff and "add value" (as they see it).
But not only would you lose that entry-level job, so to speak, not requiring PhotoShop. You would lose what a lot of the largely female cohort of SL can do well -- maintain servers, rent out parcels, or sell land on estates, and keep the social flow going to make it all work. If those people couldn't make a dime on top of their expenditures, they would have less reason to go on. Even breaking even is something they require as a minimum. Few would go on losing on this game.