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The Case for Ticket Scalping

Written by Gary North on March 5, 2016

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? (Prov. 27:4).

Envy. We do not use the word properly in our day. It is assumed to mean either jealousy or congratulations. “I really envy you,” the friend says as a way of offering congratulations. But friends do not envy each other. Envy is one of the most deeply rooted sins there is. It cannot be placated.

Jealousy is the sin of covetousness. The person says, “You have what I want. I intend to take it from you.” Envy is far more insidious. “You have what I want. I can’t get it from you. Yet I resent the fact that you have it. I’d rather see it destroyed, so that no one can have it.” The jealous man can be placated. He can be bought off. The envious man cannot be placated short of absolute equality of all aspects of life — an impossibility in a world of hierarchy.

A good example of envy in the Bible is the case of the Philistines who filled Isaac’s wells with dirt.

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth (Gen. 26:12-15).

The stopped wells did the Philistines no good. It was not that they stole the wells. They merely kept Isaac from enjoying their use. No one was made richer; Isaac was made poorer. In fact, everyone was made poorer; the productivity that the wells might have provided was lost to everyone. This is the heart and soul of envy.

So pervasive is envy today that it extends into every nook and cranny of society. People vote in terms of envy. They pass laws in terms of envy. There is no aspect of the society that is regarded as too unimportant for envy to become the ruling passion. To prove this, I will single out a particular industry that we all agree is anything but life and death: entertainment.

Scalping the Scalpers

“Scalpers.” What a terrible-sounding word. It almost rivals “scab.” in each case, the detractors have singled out an important function in a free market society. The “scab” is anyone who is willing to work for a businessman for less than a labor-union member is willing to accept. A “scalper” is anyone who wants to bear the uncertainties of the market for entertainment tickets. Every so often, especially the night of the regional “big game,” we see a television interview on the evening news. The interviewer goes to the scene of the Big Event and starts asking people about ticket availability. Invariably, he approaches someone who complains about “all the scalpers who are ripping off the public.” Once in a while, he may even get a “scalper” to discuss his business. Another, less familiar aspect of the scalping business also gets reported occasionally. The local T.V. announcer interviews some scalpers; he finds tickets “going begging.” Big news. Man bites dog. Market bites scalpers. Justice reigns. The bad guys finish last.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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