OK, so ‘splain me this: when is selling tickets on eBay that you’ve purchased for a popular concert “profiteering from misery”? When it’s a charity concert organized by the befuddled anti-capitalist Bob Geldof.
Bob Geldof is a good musician (the Boomtown Rats were one of my favorite ’80s bands), and I recall attending one of the concerts he organized for charity in London’s Hyde Park in 1986. But he’s deeply confused in his economics. Wouldn’t it be better to have the concert attended by the people who most want to be there? If I have a ticket and I’d rather watch it on the TV than attend if the price were right (as stated by one BBC commenter), my selling my ticket to someone else who values it more is going to create a larger net benefit. Yeah, sure, there are people who are too broke to pay more than face (i.e., students, like I was when I attended a LiveAid concert), but they’ve already done the ticket lottery and I’m sure lots of students got tickets and are planning to attend. Artists performing include Snoop Dogg, Sting, and Madonna.
So … ‘splain me where the harm is. I don’t see it.
eBay UK had to yank the auction because (from the Wired article linked above)
On Tuesday, outraged eBay members began flooding the ticket auctions with fake bids that drove prices up to 10 million pounds ($18 million). The phony bids made the sale of tickets impossible, as almost every bid was fraudulent.
Some eBay members used their own accounts, possibly jeopardizing their hard-earned eBay ratings.
Others opened new accounts to place fake bids, including one called live8legalteam, prompting speculation that the bidding was organized by Live 8 itself. …
Unlike Live Aid, Live 8 is not intended as a fund-raiser; rather, Geldof wants to use the concert to inspire the G8 group of industrialized nations, which meets in July in Scotland, to tackle systemic poverty issues in Africa by doubling aid money and canceling debts owed by poor nations.
Such wooly thinking about economics is pervasive, particularly in aid and development. Sanctimonious prohibition of resale is a waste, a foregone opportunity to create value by allowing the tickets to move from people who value them less to people who value them more. Someone else’s judgment or opinion about what someone does with his/her property, which is what this ticket should be considered, should not determine what the owner does with the ticket.
UPDATE: Randall McElroy at Catallarchy made the same argument in a post last night.
UPDATE DEUX: See also Stumbling & Mumbling’s post along the same lines.