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In the USSR the government fixed prices on all commodities, how desirable an item was merely determined the length of the queue not the price. Today in the same manner when purchasing tickets for concerts and sporting events the desirability of a ticket determines the length of the queue not the price.
It seems to me that the solution to the “scalping” problem that has recently been described in many newspapers is to have the companies that sell the tickets run a public auction. The current situation is denying fans the option of paying more money to guarantee a ticket, denying the musicians the best payment for their services, and not serving the best interests of anyone except the scalpers!
Internet auctions are easy to setup, ebay even has online store facilities that any merchant can use – it would be easy for any company that is running a concert to sell all the tickets at auction through ebay. People who don’t have the ability to access the Internet could pay an agent to bid for them so no-one would be excluded.
A well run ticket auction system would maximise revenue for the company selling the tickets and guarantee that fans can get tickets if they are prepared to pay enough. It would be best for everyone!
Some people with weird communist tendencies (the ones who want to emulate the least effective and useful aspects of the USSR) claim that the current ticket sales system (where all tickets are sold in 10 minutes to whoever queued for the longest time or phoned in at the right moment) allows poor people to purchase tickets at lower prices than an auction might deliver. What they fail to realise is that rich people pay others to queue for them, whether that is by paying scalpers who buy tickets in bulk or by paying one person to sit in a queue for them. There are people who are happy to sit in a queue for a few dollars per hour and people who pay them to stand in line.