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Given that the principles of Life, Liberty and Property – what “the Pursuit of Happiness” refers to – are the bedrock on which American culture and society were built you would think that politicians would at least be respectful of The Big Three! Unfortunately you would be wrong!
Attacks on these, most notably property rights, are not infrequent at all. In fact, it seems there are more and more of them every day. Amazingly, they all find supporters in legislatures – state and federal – to champion the erosion of respect for property rights.
The most recent instance of such actions on the part of legislators is taking place in Tennessee, Florida and several other states around the country. At issue is the question of who owns the tickets we all have purchased to concerts, plays, sporting events and the like.
Recent Zogby polling found 84% of Tennesseans and 76% of Floridians believe that a person who buys a ticket owns that ticket. As such, he has the right to use, sell, give away or donate what is his. Pretty basic stuff. Enter ticket sales mogul TicketMaster. They disagree.
The crisis TicketMaster doesn’t want to let go to waste is scalping. They are horrified someone might buy a $25 ticket from them and re-sell it for $250. This is such a huge problem around the country that TicketMaster and local venues have proposed legislation in several states which they say will fix the problem. Except that it doesn’t. In addition, it grants TicketMaster a competitive advantage over other businesses by legislatively granting them a market share and segment they did not earn and do not deserve.
In Tennessee it is the badly named “Fairness in Ticketing Act,” HB 1000. In Florida it’s HB 1353. Both of these bills propose fixing scalping by making TicketMaster – usually the original seller of the ticket – ALSO the only entity able to resell a ticket. This destroys business developed and competitively earned in the marketplace by companies like EBay and StubHub and hands it, without any effort on its part, to TicketMaster.
This isn’t preventing scalping. This is government picking and choosing winners in the market. If I may be so bold, given the definition of scalping that most people use – selling a ticket for more than face value – I have to ask what the problem with that really is? Isn’t “Buy low. Sell high!” something of an American maxim?
The real problem – the one which actually violates the rights of ticket sellers, venues and performers alike – and, as such should be addressed by government under the Declaration’s statement that “to secure these rights government was instituted among men” is counterfeit tickets. This is not addressed at all by any legislation sponsored by TicketMaster.
Neither is the notion of TicketMaster as the biggest scalper of all! Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams revealed that of 14,000 tickets for a recent Justin Bieber concert, only 1,000 were made available to the general public. 13,000 were held back by TicketMaster to distribute to suppliers, vendors, credit card companies, etc. If 10 tickets were given to a company that does $10,000 in business with TicketMaster, those $25 tickets just became worth $1,000 each. So much for opposing scalping.
Nor does the bill address other issues the public might have such as TicketMaster allowing some resellers to cut in line electronically. Ever wonder how a 15,000 seat concert could sell out in 8 minutes leaving fans who waited all night outside the window without a ticket? TicketMaster lets some folks cut in line over the Internet and buy hundreds of tickets at a time for resale. But as long as TicketMaster gets to sell them and resell them and control the market, what do they care? They make money on every sale.
Whether you live in Tennessee, Florida or another of the states in which this is an issue or may become one in the days ahead, stand up for your rights. Because you will be the big loser if TicketMaster is the only vendor allowed to resell tickets.
As I wrote at Blue Collar Muse, “We’ve all enjoyed a concert due to a friend’s generosity. Or seen the big game from our employers’ or clients’ skyboxes. Maybe illness or a scheduling conflict means we got tickets to the hottest play in town. Who hasn’t bid on silent auction tickets hoping to score a great deal?”
None of that happens if legislators, acting on behalf of TicketMaster, steal your property rights. Tell them to stop!