I got out _Vinyl Leaves_ from the Disney Studies used book purchases before going to DLR a year and several months ago and started reading it. (Yes, I _know_ I'm in the middle of like five other books; I did finish one, which I should post a review of.) Once I hit the paragraph or two quoting Neil Postman I felt compelled to take a break (also, I was in the tub, and T. kept splashing me, the book, etc.). And I got to thinking about it.
Fjellman (oh, I hope I spelled that right) titled the book after the vinyl leaves on the Swiss Family Robinson TreeHouse (then in both Disneyland and WDW; since then, DLR's version has become a Tarzan attraction), and expends several sentences on the path to the TreeHouse, which in his world goes like this:
Fake Tree -> Disney Movie -> Wyss book -> Defoe book
This is problematic, largely because Fjellman _stops_ at the Defoe book, whereas to my mind, that's where things actually start to get interesting. Defoe's book is at least sometimes considered the first novel in the English language, and was almost certainly inspired by the RealLife Adventures (sorry, I just _had_ to) of one Alexander Selkirk who got stuck on an island which has since been renamed Robinson Crusoe Island BUT the description of the island probably comes from a different island (Tobago) and a lot of the themes of the book comes from elsewhere, including, but not limited to, yet another book set on a desert island, Abubacer's Philosophus Autodidactas, or Robert Knox's "An Historical Account of the Island Ceylon". Largely ripped from the Wikipedia article on Robinson Cruse, altho everything but the specific books Defoe probably borrowed from I had previously encountered and vaguely remembered.
Defoe book -> Alexander Selkirk (at a minimum) and a big set of branches as well
What is it about Disney that causes perfectly good academics to start making statements that indicate their grasp of reality is pretty derivative? I'll put that on hold for a moment and go on to my next point.
I've been neck deep in trying to figure out how DVC (Disney Vacation Club) works and whether it might be a worthwhile thing to do. I'll expand another post on the weird economics of DVC, but for right now, I'd just like to do a similar little diagram for real estate.
Timeshare (which is a time-slice of a condo, generally) -> condo (which is real estate composed of air, as opposed to land) -> real estate (land)
You could stop there, but like the Swiss Family TreeHouse, that's actually where it gets interesting. We've got deeds now, but what exactly is a deed? There are land right that cross governments (and not in the boring old we get a new government every 4 years sense) -- land grants in California spring to mind, but there are also pre-colonial long term leases in NY that I think are still in the courts right now because no one's got the original paperwork (makes ya long for the 1000 years of files in the Vatican, doesn't it? Not.).
And that's the paper. Which we all know doesn't mean anything, because a war could happen, you could be an oppressed minority and be forced to sell it all. Except, wait, then you can sue decades later and _maybe_ get some or all of it back.
Not much point of getting into all that, now, is there? Because you talk about that too much and shortly there's a discussion of reparations for the descendants of slaves in the America and shortly after that, we'll have to return it all to the Native Americans, and that leads to highly divisive remarks so why would _I_ go there. Oh, wait, I'm cranky, anyway.
Returning to DVC (but if you think about it, this is all relevant, isn't it? I mean, Disney's about making all that irrelevant, but you rip everything free from its moorings and I see nothing STOPPING me from going there), what, precisely, is DVC in this world?
DVC is a time-limited (expires in a particular year, based on the wording on the deed) _deed_ (so it is real estate) that is a number of points in a particular property. I haven't seen the paperwork (_try_ to get this kind of information out of someone -- it's out there; I want a copy if you can get it), but Someone specified on the deed says who gets to decide how many points gets you how much time in that property. There are also contracts governing exchanges of points between properties.
DVC -> TimeShare Exchange (think Interval International, which DVC gets you access to for a fee) -> TimeShare -> Condo -> Land
I don't think words like "derivative", "faux", "ersatz" or similar really do this situation justice. We're in a Whole New World here.
A big chunk of Disney Studies is devoted to analyzing the theme parks as an exercise in utopian urban planning (especially WDW). They spend time talking about thinks like public transportation (WEDway PeopleMover, the Monorail, the trains, etc.), human scale (upper stories are fractionally scaled), curvature, etc. We need a branch of Disney Studies devoted to analyzing the Disney company and its various products in terms of legal innovation. Can it be a coincidence that DVC rose (and continues to rise) in a world which simultaneously went nuts for CDOs? We can't figure out refis, but we're all convinced we're getting a great deal; doesn't _that_ sound like a point based exchange system like DVC?
Here's where it gets really good. Built into the legal structure of DVC is a Right-of-First-Refusal on reselling your property interest (because you got a deed, you _can_ sell it and Disney cannot actually stop you). There's an active -- thriving! -- resale market, occupied by what appear to be some good guys and almost certainly includes a few scammers who are up to no good. "New" points from Disney are sold primarily in "new" DVC resorts, at a cost of about $104. There are a variety of incentive programs going on right now to knock about $10/pt off the price and some gift cards and what have you to get the deal done. "Resale" points from Disney in older resorts (they do have them, altho they don't advertise this) go for close to the same price but probably without incentives. "Resale" points from ordinary folk in Wilderness Lodge are currently averaging $80/point (I picked out the top few reputable resellers, shoved their listings into a spreadsheet and did a weighted average a couple days ago, so I'm pretty confident in this number); other lodges go for (typically) less. You can offer whatever you like for points, but once the seller has agreed and you have a purchase agreement in place, Disney gets 30 days (or thereabouts) to decide whether they want to buy it instead. And as near as I can tell, Disney _is_ buying stuff that people try to get for a really low price; that is to say, Disney is supporting the market.
Let's just take a brief moment to contemplate the time frame of the auction rate securities market and what happened to it.
How long is Disney prepared to support the prices on DVC points? Certainly as long as they are trying to sell more properties, it's in their interest to keep the market afloat. But then, that was the argument for why auction rates couldn't fail. After all, studen loan makers would need more capital and how else were they going to get it? Indeed.
Derivative? Just doesn't seem strong enough, does it? We all got used to the idea of derivatives. We need a new word.