Yesterday I posted about the Wisconsin Badger Herald editorial written by "staff" (affectionately known as "Herald Staff" to those of us employed at MP) who named the names of UW-Madison students who scalped their Rose Bowl tickets. Herald Staff was especially vitriolic towards the fellow students, saying there was a special place in Hell for them.
But this vitriol is nothing new as a New York Times letter to the editor from 1910 (via Craig Depken) shows.
From a letter to the editor in the Dec. 7, 1910 NYT:
A year or more ago there developed in this "Greatest City of a Great Country" a violent agitation looking to the prohibition by law of speculation in theatre tickets, but our city fathers were evidently unable to find a way out of the difficulty. I am informed that the City of Chicago has recently passed an ordinance compelling all theatre tickets to have the price printed on them, and making it a punishable offense to sell any tickets above this figure. This would seem to be an effectual remedy for the evil.
Why do some consider arbitrage in tickets to be evil? When I was a student at Mizzou, it was not uncommon to hear stories of students who had won the men's basketball ticket lottery selling their tickets for a few thousand dollars. I don't recall hearing anyone saying that was evil. Personally, I thought to myself "lucky bastards."
The basic scarcity problem holds: resources (and thus goods and services) are scarce relative to the infinity of human wants. How are goods divied up and who does the divying?
In a market, it is the people who define the market - buyers and sellers - evaluating prices and other opportunities that do the divying. The same is true in a market for tickets. People who buy tickets value the tickets more than the money they give up. Ticket sellers value the money more than the ticket. This holds true in all voluntary market exchanges.
But why is the secondary market for tickets to events viewed differently? Comments are open.