Moral Victories

Last night, I spent some time with Ned Lamont as he spoke to folks in Second Life. There were many supporters who showed up, people who had been moved by Ned’s campaign. As I reflected back on 2006, it struck me that perhaps we are undervaluing moral victories.

We all want to get agents of change elected. We may factor ‘electablity’ into our calculations. Clearly ‘electability’ is a factor, but people can make big changes without being elected.

Let’s take a couple of examples. Who do you think are the politicians that have had the biggest positive effect on our country?

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A Medium of Exchange

That is how Merriam-Websters defines “currency” and provides an interesting framework for understanding the issues of currency in Second Life. Beyond currency, we need to think about what it is based on and how it is transmitted, all of this will can help put the latest decision by Linden Lab about banking into perspective.

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Further reflections on Second Life Economics

What does the change in banking policy mean for Second Life? It is a question a lot of people are asking and no one seems to know. One person was told by a Linden that companies will not be able to provide dividends on their stocks. Another person was told that companies will still be allowed to make loans, which pay interest. Exchanges are still waiting for official feedback from Linden Lab.

The bigger question is how do we understand the “currency” of Second Life, which Linden Labs describes as “a limited license right available for purchase or free distribution at Linden Lab's discretion” Can or should banking regulatory agencies be expected to regulate the borrowing or lending of such rights? If so, then these rights should not be controlled at Linden Lab’s discretion.

At 11 AM, SLT, today, Metanomics, together with the Investment Education Team will hold a special event to address Linden Lab’s ‘a radical shift in policy’ regarding banks. I expect it to be a lively discussion and I hope many people attend. Details can be found here.

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Second Life Banking Policy

I was away from the computer much of yesterday and will be away much of today as well, which is unfortunate, because yesterday, there was very big news. Linden Lab announced a new policy concerning in world banks.

As of January 22, 2008, it will be prohibited to offer interest or any direct return on an investment (whether in L$ or other currency) from any object, such as an ATM, located in Second Life, without proof of an applicable government registration statement or financial institution charter.

Plenty of people are writing about this already. Vstex's post is here. DFC's here, CSL here, AVC here, SLCapEx here and here. Benjamin Duranske provides commentary here. Nobody Fugazi has his comments here. SLNN has this op ed up, and SL Reports has a long list of articles.

With all of that, on top of my limited connectivity, there isn't a lot that I can add at this point, other than a few questions. The first question is what is meant by 'Direct Return on an investment'. While this is aimed at in world banks, will dividends be considered a direct return? If so, it has a profound affect on many companies in Second Life. What does this do to exchanges? To investment companies? The other important question is what Linden Labs will consider 'an applicable government registration'. Does simply forming an LLC or registering a company count? AVC and Wise Metaverse LLC have posted information about their incorporation, but registering a company is very different from a financial institution charter. In addition, Linden Lab has not provided a mechanism, at present, for reporting which institutions have met their criteria to continue banking activities.

So, what does this mean for financial institutions in Second Life? Short term, there is likely to be plenty of volatility. To the extent that the exchanges can keep trading orderly with minimal use of shutdowns, trading halts or automatic circuit breakers, the markets should do fine and should provide some good investing opportunities. To the extent that Linden Labs policies are not excessively strict, those companies that are providing real services can only benefit from this, but building more confidence in the financial markets. The risk at this point is determining which companies are in fact providing real services that will be vetted by Linden Lab.

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Notes from New Hampshire

Vote, Vote, Vote in Hanover, NH, originally uploaded by Aldon.

I'm dropping Fiona off at a friends house before returning to the final push in the New Hampshire primaries. As can be expected when campaigning with youngsters, we again, got off to a late start. Yet the weather is beautiful, sunny, between 50 and 60. Today, we've been working out of the Salem office, which provides a sharp contrast to Claremont. Claremont is a small office. Salem is perhaps smaller in size, but is close to the Massachusetts border and has been packed with volunteers.

Kim, Fiona and I went out for a final day of canvasing. Fiona did a great job of speaking to voters, expressing her hope that they were going to vote for John Edwards, if they haven't already. Voters were friendly. Many had already voted. Most had already made up their minds. However, we are hoping to make sure all of those that want John Edwards actually make it to the voting booths and anyone who is still swayable seriously considers John.

It was a well to do neighborhood we visited, and there were a lot of Clinton supporters, quite a few Edwards supporters, and surprisingly few Obama supporters. The word we are hearing is that undecideds and weak Hillary supporters are breaking for John. The office has made an incredible amount of calls and there were no signs of supporters of other candidates out canvasing or door knocking. There were a bunch of Hillary supporters at the voting place we passed, and there was one lone McCain supporter doing visibility at a busy intersection.

All of this is based on what I saw in one small part of Salem and overheard others saying, and I have no idea how things will turn out when the votes are counted, other than expecting another record turnout.

At the campaign office, I chatted with volunteers from places like New Jersey and California. One of the discussions were about how lucky voters in New Hampshire are to have the first primary, even though some of the people we were calling, might wonder how lucky they are when they get their thirtieth phone call. There were discussions about whether other states should have an opportunity to be first in the nation, and about how seriously the folks in New Hampshire take their voting.

I suggested that perhaps a good way to work things out is that states with the highest turnout should get the chance to be the early primary states in the following election cycle. The idea was well received and I think addresses nicely the question of how seriously different states take their primaries.

The other interesting thing to note. Reports are starting to kick around about a Clinton cash crunch. It is hard to believe, considering how much money she has raised. However, reports are that she spent between $15 and $25 million in Iowa, all to get around fifteen delegates. When all is said and done, Obama, Edwards, and Clinton will all receive about the same number of delegates from Iowa. It will be interesting to see how many each candidate gets out of New Hampshire. With the votes being as close as they are, and the small number of delegates assigned so far, it is a long way until the convention. People are even starting to talk about a brokered convention.

Back to the delegates and the math. If Hillary did get 15 delegates after spending $15 million, at that rate, she would need to spend over $2 billion dollars to get enough delegates to win the nomination. No wonder there is talk of a cash crunch. I haven't heard reports of exactly how much Obama has spent but it looks like John Edwards is clearly getting the most delegates per dollar. It is a good illustration of how the system can be changed to be less dependent on big dollars from lobbyists for irresponsible corporations.

This gets back to the underlying question. Everyone is for change. The question is, what sort of change. Having a black man as President would be a change. Having a woman as a President would be change. Having a person who is spending money effectively and wisely and focusing on a message of standing up for the middle class would be a very big change.

There is plenty more to be said about this and all that is going on here in New Hampshire, but it is time for me to get back to the canvasing and phonebanking. I'm happy to be using a little elbow grease to get the message out, instead of paying large amounts to the corporate owned media.

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