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/// PRICE WHAT???  STR FOCUS!
    -------------------------
    Reprinted from STReport #9.25


                            The Great GENIE
                                   or
            When Is a Price Increase a Not a Price Increase?

 
by Lloyd E. Pulley, Sr.
 
     A long, long time ago, in a far off world, there was a rich and
powerful land called GEIS.  The ruler of GEIS was so rich that he only used
his lands during the daytime throughout the week, leaving the lands
virtually empty during the nights and weekends.
 
     One day a cousin of the ruler of GEIS came to him with a plan.  The
cousin, known as the Great GENIE, said "Why not rent me the use of your
kingdom when you're not using it? I know of many people who would pay for
the right to have some place to play in the evenings and weekends.  This
way you and I can make a few extra dinars while supplying these people with
something they want."  The ruler of GEIS thought that this was a good idea
but warned his cousin, "Make sure that you don't rent out more space than
we have. I will not spend dinars to expand my kingdom just to give your
people more room."
 
     So the Great GENIE came to control a vast territory. However, much of
this territory was a vast waste-land (what came to be known as the Basic
areas). True, there were a few oasis' with popular settlements in this
wasteland (SciFi, Religion and a few others) but most of this territory was
sparsely settled and seldom visited.  Most of the population and visitors
to his land stayed in the civilized areas (what came to be known as the
Value areas) and seldom ventured into the unsettled territories/wasteland.
 
     While the Great GENIE was a mighty man inside his own lands, he was
considered a 'minor monarch' in comparison to some of the other countries 
that surrounded his territory.  The empires of CIS, Delphi, Prodigy and 
others all had populations greater than his.
 
     The Great GENIE knew that population was the key to power and riches. 
His country had the resources (known as CPU power) to handle 2-3 times as
many people as it currently held without expending much of the gold
contained in his tightly held purse strings.  With more population, there
would be more tax money and more people to spend money in the civilized
areas.  With more population, the Great GENIE would be a power to be
reckoned with.
 
     After long and detailed consultations with his viziers, the Great
GENIE came up with a plan that would entice some of the people from the
surrounding countries to his territory.  He would allow them to settle into
is wasteland for FREE.  There they would be free to build the types of
communities that they wanted.  Social and conversational intercourse would
spread throughout this once desolate area, making it bloom.  To make the
deal more enticing, the Great GENIE decided to include free access into the
few oasis/settlements in this wasteland.
 
     The Great GENIE was nobody's fool.  While he would allow them to
settle for free, he would charge them a small monthly 'settlement' fee
(aka, service charge). This settlement fee would cover the small additional
expense that they cost him (remember, the Great GENIE had all of this extra
resources/CPU setting idle, so his additional expenses weren't great),
while adding greatly to his coffers. Not only would he make money from the
settlement fees, he knew that many of these new settlers (aka, newbies)
would also go into the civilized areas - thus spending money there and
increasing his tax revenues.
 
     The Great GENIE decided to use part of his new settlement fees to
reduce the tax-burden on his current subjects. This would keep them happy
and not be too upset over the newbies getting free what they had to pay
for.  
 
     For several years, everyone prospered.  People came and settled the
previous wasteland, creating new and exciting societies.  As word spread,
more and more people came to settle. Prosperity was had by all.  Almost
everyone raved about how wise the Great GENIE was.
 
     But a dark cloud hovered on the horizon, a cloud that kept growing and
coming closer, a cloud that brought cold winds and omens of bad things to
come.
 
     As more and more people came to this land, more and more of the Great
GENIE's resources were needed to handle them. Roads that used to be clear
and fast, now became crowded and slow. People used to be able to visit
other parts of the land in just seconds, now sometimes had to take many
minutes to make the same trip.
 
     Even inside the civilized enclaves, the area that was still being
taxed, citizens found things rapidly growing sluggish. The newbies were
clogging up streets and taking up space at the restaurants and shops. 
Resources that were needed to keep the enclaves running smoothly had been
shunted off into the wilderness in an attempt to keep that area running
smoothly.

     It wasn't long before everyone started to blame everyone else for the
problems. Some blamed the Great GENIE for not having more resources to
handle things properly. They forgot that the Great GENIE was not the real
ruler of this land and had no power to get more resources/CPU.  Others
blamed it was the newbies for not paying their way and for being system
hogs. They forgot that these newbies 'settlement fees' had helped to lower
their taxes - and that the newbies in many cases had created paradises out
of former wastelands.  While others blamed it on the old citizens for
taking too much of the system resources to play games, grab files and chat,
all the while forgetting that without the old citizens taxes, there would
have never been the new territories.

     The Great GENIE decided to play Solomon. In order to restore his
kingdom back to normal, he would cut taxes in half!!  All of his citizens
would now pay taxes, but at only half of the previous rate.  Also, to help
cover the additional costs of giving service to his now inflated
population, the Great GENIE decided to increase the settlement costs by
almost 80%.  The Great GENIE knew that his new tax plan would be unpopular
with some, and that some of his citizens would leave. While this saddened
him, he knew it was for the best.  With these citizens gone, many of his
resources would be released so that he could give better service to the
citizens that remained.

     On hearing this news, a great uproar was heard throughout the land.
The citizens of the civilized territories shouted in glee.  Their taxes had
been lowered again!! Not only that, but those ungrateful system hogs, those
newbies would now be paying 'their fair share'.
 
     However, many of the newbies did not view the new taxes with the same
enthusiasm as their brethren in the civilized lands did. They felt that
they had been enticed to this new land with the promise of free lands, and
now that they were here that promise had been broken.  They didn't see
themselves as system hogs, but rather as people who had created a paradise
where none existed before.  Now that a paradise had been created, the
creators were being asked to pay to use their creation.  Some even felt
that they'd been enticed to do a job and once it was done, they weren't
wanted anymore - that the new tax was just a way to chase them off.

     What will the future hold for the Great GENIE's territories? No one
knows for sure. Most of the old citizens will stay around but some will
leave. Some had gotten used to visiting the new territories and find the
new taxes there unacceptable - unacceptable enough that they will move to
other countries instead of staying.

     But will enough of the newbies stay? Will there be enough to keep the
quality of life in the new territories up to the current levels?  Will
there be enough to keep the quality of life in the new territories at an
acceptable level?  Or will enough newbies leave so that the new territories
will gradually sink back into a wasteland - a wasteland with memories,
echoes of better times and filled with ghost towns?
 
     The Great GENIE hopes for the first, will settle for the second and
fears the third.
 
Lloyd E. Pulley, Sr