One of the many reason libertarians had no choice but to evolve into the pep squad for the managerial state is they could never finish their own sentences without sounding like loons. For example, their reification of free markets, often has them sounding like primitive shaman. Their deification of personal liberty would lead them to defending morally abhorrent things like the poor selling their organs to the rich. In order to avoid this, they developed the habit of stopping short of fully stating the inevitable ends of their ideology.
One of the errors of libertarianism, as well as the various tribes of the New Right, is the mistaken belief that markets are a Platonic good. Therefore, the free market is the end, rather than a means to some end. A popular trope among those in the post-war New Right was the claim that an undesirable end, arrived at through principled means, was superior to a desirable end, arrived at through unprincipled means. It is has always been a ridiculous statement that can only have utility in the world of forms, not on earth.
The marketplace is never perfect and it can often lead to undesirable ends. This is why it has to be viewed as a tool, one of the many tools a society has to better itself and insulate itself against its own internal division. A fair and open marketplace for housing, for example, will result in the maximum amount of affordable housing. Open borders and unfettered trade will lead to the corruption of the people’s laws. An unfettered recreational drug market will end up with large portions of the population exploited by a small part.
A less emotional example of this is the market for concert tickets. It used to be that states protected the primary market by suppressing the secondary market. The internet and the unwillingness of the people in charge to enforce the laws has changed that. The primary market has now been captured by the secondary market. The bulk purchase of tickets by brokers now makes them the primary player in the market. In fact, they can control the market, by manipulating availability. That’s what’s happening with concert tickets.
With the curtain rising on her “Reputation” tour, Taylor Swift blinked.
She buckled by having Ticketmaster turn off resale ticket listings on its interactive venue charts for the first leg of her North American tour, according to music-industry veterans.
The tour, which begins on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz., shows plenty of primary tickets still available for the first nine shows.
But the delisting of secondary, or resale, tickets — a move experts called unusual if not unprecedented — makes the inventory of available seats seem much smaller.
On July 20, for example, Swift is scheduled to appear at MetLife Stadium as part of her tour’s third leg.
About half the seats still available for that show are represented by red dots on Ticketmaster’s venue chart, meaning they are up for resale.
The other half, represented by blue dots, signify primary sales. Those are the only dots currently visible to visitors trying to score tickets for a show on the first leg of “Reputation.”
Ticketmaster’s shutting down ticket resales for Swift’s early shows perplexed many in the industry because it handed secondary sales to competing resellers like StubHub.
On blockbuster tours, Ticketmaster admittedly makes more revenue on ticket resales than primary sales.
It also left some wondering if Ticketmaster was taking orders from its parent company, Live Nation, which as the tour’s overseas promoter, has much riding on “Reputation” being perceived as a success.
Now, the libertarian argument is that the venue should simply auction off the tickets for their show and not worry about the secondary market, because the bidding process would no doubt undermine the secondary market. The trouble is, there are no pure markets, so the sophisticated players in the market, would game the auction just as they game the direct sales market now. In other words, there can never be a free market, as long as there informational asymmetry and there is always a player with an information advantage.
If we stop pretending that a free market is an end in itself, we can think about the desirable ends would like to see in something like the concert business. Obviously, one end is for the performer and the venue owner to make a profit. Without them, there is no market for concert tickets. Secondarily, you want the fans to have access to tickets at a price that they see as reasonable. The libertarian idea of an initial auction solves one problem, but the other problems require shutting down the secondary market, like we used to do.
This is a trivial issue, as the world is not going to stop spinning if Taylor Swift can no longer make a living doing concerts. In fact, if all of our mass market entertainments dried up tomorrow, people would find new ways to entertain themselves. The point I’m trying to make is economics, particularly the market place, is always an means to an end. When thinking about what’s happening to us, the question is not how best to get people cheap stuff. It is about the kind of society we want the type of people we want in it.
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