Trying to make money? Did you forget you’re in Massachusetts?

One of the unspoken laws down in Massachusetts is that nobody — nobody — is allowed to make a profit without cutting the government in for a piece of the pie. Entrepeneurship is bad, evil, and greedy; you need to make sure you pay your “fair share” into the state’s coffers.

One of the many ways they enforce this unwritten laws is the laws against “scalping.” I understand that a lot of states have laws against reselling tickets for much more than their face value, but in Massachusetts it’s tougher than that. Resellers have to register with the state, and markups are limited to $2.00 over face value (plus “reasonable” fees).

Well, it seems that a lot of people have been ignoring that law, and thinking that if they own something, they can sell it for whatever someone is willing to pay for it. And that has quite a few people annoyed — to the point of taking them to court.

I’m not surprised that the Patriots are using the existing laws. They are a private organization, and they have a duty to maximize their profits. Under existing law, they are perfectly entitled to do what they are doing.

But the mere fact that what they are doing is legal is appalling.

I’m no fan of “gouging,” but let’s not overlook the fundamental fact here: these are tickets to a football game. This is not a matter of life and death. No one will be irreparably harmed if they can’t afford to go see the Patriots play. If they want to badly enough, they will find a way.

The free market is an amazing thing. The fact that people are willing to pay so much above face value for these tickets tells me that the tickets themselves are being underpriced by the team. If the Patriots want to get more money for them, then they can charge more up front. To insist that once they’ve sold the ticket, they also want a piece of any future re-selling is just absurd.

But as so often is the case in Massachusetts, the more absurd an idea seems, the more likely it is to be enshrined in law.

Happy Thanksgiving
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