I submitted this to the San Antonio Express-News
At first glance, it might seem awful
that some people were selling free tickets they had gotten to Muhammad
Ali's memorial service Friday (June 10) in Louisville ("Some trying to
profit off funeral," sports, June 9).
An Ali family spokesman
said he was "personally disgusted" by this and that Ali "wanted this to
be a free event, an event that was open to all."
who wanted to attend the service, said "The Greatest wanted his funeral
to be accessible to everyone." Another fan, who was lucky enough to be
given a ticket by someone else who had waited in line said "I'm glad
that somebody has a heart out there" (as opposed to those who sold their
But the arena holding the service only seats 15,000.
People started lining up the night before tickets were given out and
thousands left empty handed.
That also seems heartless, to have
people wait so long and come up empty handed. If tickets were sold for
money, that would have been avoided.
Luckily the high temperature
in Louisville was only 77 that day. But the next day it was supposed to
be 85 and the day after 92. Just imagine what might have happened if
people had waited hours in the heat and gotten nothing.
we don't allow a product to be sold (or sold for its market price) some
other mechanism will allocate goods and services. It could be on a
first come, first serve basis, like in this case. That is, who waits the
longest gets it.
Or, as happened in Rhode Island in 2006, two
police officers used their badges to cut in line to buy the Playstation3
video game. The selling price was not high enough on the first day, so,
like in the case of Ali's memorial service, people waited in line all
We should not be surprised when people sell "free"
tickets. This happened in 2009 when comedian Jay Leno gave away free
tickets to unemployed workers in Detroit. Some sold them.
was not happy about this. But he required no proof from recipients that
they were actually unemployed. And if a truly unemployed worker sold a
ticket, maybe they needed the money more than Leno's jokes.
items can end in tragedy. This happened in India in 2004 when a stampede
occurred while free saris were being given away. Twenty-one women and
children (mostly poor) were killed.
Mr. Ali may have had a noble
sentiment by insisting that tickets to his memorial service be free. But
"free" items cause problems.
Some people were paid to stand in
line. Although tickets might not be sold in those cases, it violates the
spirit of what Mr. Ali wanted. But detecting such activity might be
Paying people to stand in line is common. Lobbyists
have paid people to wait in line for them to get a good seat at
Congressional hearings. Kathleen Elkins of Business Insider reported
last year that there are companies that employ professional line
This happened up in Austin. People got paid to wait in line at Franklin Barbecue.
the profiteering (selling free tickets) despicable, deplorable and
heartless just ignores reality. Supply and demand set a price and when
that is ignored, strange things happen.
Right now price controls
are causing a human tragedy in Venezuela. The government mandates low
prices and businesses can't make a profit. So they have shortages of
food and medicine and other essentials. If they only allowed some
"disgusting" profiteering, things might be better.
Here are some related links:
People are paying up to $1,500 for someone else to take their place in line
Franklin Barbecue bans professional line-sitters
Cops in Trouble for PS3 Line-Cutting
Stampede for free saris kills 21 in India
Some looking to profit from free tickets to Ali services