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Author: JimLuckett Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 77099  
Subject: Paying to be here Date: 1/31/2002 11:36 PM
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Recommendations: 73
Isn't it funny: Here we are, a bunch of landlords collecting dividends off the rents squoze out of tenants of every sort across the nation, and we're howling because our cyber landlord just raised the rent by $15 per year!

Well, $15 may not sound like much, but in percentage terms, it's infinite.

As my Uncle Joe once said: "Jimmy, there is no bigger difference in the world than the difference between some and none."

The question for me is, is there a decent substitute? Obviously, the board is worth more than $15 or $30/year. Everything I buy is worth more to me than I pay for it, or else I wouldn't spend the time to make the purchase. This computer is worth probably $75,000 or more to me. But, I wouldn't pay that, because there are equivalents on the market for $1000. So, I am enjoying $74,000 of consumer surplus from my computer. We're so used to our consumer surplus we've even got a nasty term in the language for when a supplier tries to reduce our consumer surplus: "Price gouging." That's taking advantage of market power to make a bigger supplier surplus (profit). Why don't we call it "consumer surplus gouging" when we pay less for a thing than the utility we derive from it?

There isn't a readily available decent substitute. To save $30, I'm not willing to accept ANY reduction in quality or spend any significant time searching for, or creating, a substitute. I did consider trying to get the group to migrate to a free board, but quickly rejected the idea in my mind. The free boards lack some of the features, like recommendations and a powerful search function. It might be fun trying to maintain and build a community on our own, but it's easier to stay here and "renting rather than owning" leaves more time to concentrate on the subject matter as opposed to housekeeping.

Maybe we should try collective bargaining. United we stand! They can stick us up for $30 one by one, but if we form a union then we have countervailing power. If there are ten of us, that's a potential $300; if 100 join the posters' union, that's a potential $3,000. And here is what I propose our price to be: BRING BACK TMF YORICK!

For those of you too new to know him, Yorick was our host, and his legacy is the tone of civility, intelligence and good humor that still marks this board. One day, he disappeared mysteriously without a word. Yet, rumor has it he still lives, and enlightens others, out there somewhere. So, Mssrs. Gardner, what have you done with him? Improvement number 1 is BRING BACK YORICK!

Improvement number 2 is abandon the silly idea of turning the "recommendations" function into a juvenile popularity contest. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, go read about the planned awarding of "Charms" (why not just call them "gold stars" like my kindergarten teacher did?) based on everyone's post-to-recommendation ratio. Now this would be just silly and harmless, if they did not also plan to ration the number of recommendations you can give, to prevent "recommendation inflation." And, the rationing will be done according to a secret and varying formula. So, you will never know in advance whether you have the power to recommend a post tonight or not until you try. Say What?! Does this have something to do with adults managing their investments? Please. Don't do this. The recommendation feature is perfect, just the way it is. If helps me find good posts when I am in a hurry. And it helps me guage which of my posts have been most helpful to others. That's all I want it to do. Spare me the awarding of charms and don't mess with anyone's right to hit that "recommend it" button.

Improvement number 3 should be correct treatment of dividends in the "total return" column of the "my portfolio" function. Not only would this help REIT investors track their portfolios, it would also help me doing the annual stock picking contest.

Improvement number 4 should be a way to set up portfolios that we all could look at on a continuing basis, so that the contest could be tracked in real time. This would also be useful for other types of discussions -- for example, our Bluest of the Blue could be a portfolio that could be generally accessed and tracked against a Brownest of the Brown portfolio, to see if our stock picking means anything. Another portolfio could track Realty Stock Reviews buy/sell/hold recommendations. But, you can't do this without a proper measure of total return. Price-only won't cut it for this board.

So, brothers Gardner, here's $30 of my precious consumer surplus. I'll be watching how you spend it. And don't get greedy -- I just might get serious about forming that union.

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