ATS status markers differ from "wealth" in some very important respects.
One is that giving out stars and flags is cost-free, so that people can afford to "support" many other members, whereas they could not support rival businesses and would have to choose.
Another is that businesses need to make money in order to survive, whereas members can still chugg along quite happily without getting stars and flags at all. If it was necessary to maintain a minimum "K" level in order to be allowed to continue posting, the pressure would be much greater, and the analogy would be closer. If you were not far above the minumum, you would know that it would only take a few badly-judged posts to drive you "bankrupt" and off the forum.
edit on 6-9-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)