Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Season of Miracles

The Christmas Season is a joyous time of year. Most of us look forward to it year in and year out. We take time to catch up with family and friends and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmastime is often special for another reason, too. Every year we hear heart-warming stories about special happenings. Some of them we see on the news, while others are learned of by word of mouth. Typically, these stories have to do with giving, and generally involve someone going out of their way to help someone less fortunate. People often refer to these stories as "Christmas Miracles."

The term "miracle" used in a spiritual sense is something that was unlikely to happen but occurred because of Divine Intervention. Generally, Christians believe that God can be seen at work when a miracle such as a miraculous healing or a deliverance from a dangerous situation transpires. "Miracle" in a secular sense is generally used to refer to something that is a rare occurrence, may not happen again, is statistically unlikely, or simply can't be explained - i.e. The Miracle On Ice, the Music City Miracle. Today on The Sheepdog, you will experience a "miracle" of this type.

I am known for holding politicians on both sides of the aisle accountable for votes and / or policy decisions that I don't agree with. Oftentimes, I am harder on the Republicans than I am on the Democrats, because I used to be a GOP'er myself. However, I also try to be fair and dispense accolades on a politician and stand with them when they are on the "right" side of an issue and it is appropriate. Today is one such day.

I have been a frequent critic of Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers (at right). In the past, I have poked fun at her and called her out on votes that I have felt were hypocritical and less than conservative. (You can read some of my past article about her by clicking here.) I know I am not on her Christmas Card List for these reasons. I have, however, on a few rare occasions agreed with her and supported her, particularly on issues affecting gun owners.

The other day I read an article on the online version of The Lebanon Democrat titled "Lawmakers to Consider Event Ticket Bill".  The bill's official name is the "Fairness in Ticketing Act". Bascially, the bill would regulate the resale of event tickets, such as football games, basketball games, concerts, and other events. Many are concerned that the bill would prevent a private individual from reselling tickets they purchased to someone else. For instance, let's say you buy tickets to a concert, but a week or two before the event you find out you can't go. The bill might prevent you from reselling your tickets to someone else to keep from having to eat them.

In my opinion, the fact that TicketMaster supports the bill makes it a bad bill. I have always felt that they have a racket going in regards to ticket sales. They charge outrageous fees on top of the already outrageous ticket prices for any event ticket. In addition, many times they are the only ones selling tickets to certain events making them, in my opinion, a monopoly. TicketMaster's opinion is that the bill is needed to prevent ticket brokers a.k.a. scalpers from buying up large blocks of tickets and then re-selling them at huge profits. However, that's not the whole story. There are special exemptions in the bill for TicketMaster. Surprise, surprise.

According to an article I ran across on titled "Fairness in Ticketing Act Benefits Ticketmaster over Fans", one provision in the bill requires ticket resellers to list their name, face value of the ticket, and the asking price. A second provision could allow TicketMaster to take control of the resale market in addition to the primary market. Furthermore, there is a specific exemption in the law to the requirement to the first provision above. Guess who qualifies for that exemption ? Yep, you guessed it - TicketMonopoly, ... oops. Sorry. I meant TicketMaster. Isn't crony capitalism great ? I bet if you started reviewing the campaign financial reports of Tennessee Legislators, you'd find several campaign contributions from TicketMaster

My wife and I attended the Steelers / Titans football game back in October with some friends. The day the tickets went on sale at 10 a.m., I was sitting in front of my computer attempting to purchase four tickets. As soon as the sale opened on the Titans website, all the tickets were gone. I will admit it was frustrating, but I started looking for them elsewhere. The four of us had set a limit for what we were willing to pay for a ticket. I found many tickets available that were above that limit. I finally found some great seats in our price range, bought them, and we went to the game. Others can do the same thing.

Movie or concert tickets symbol
Movie or concert tickets symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In addition to TicketMaster, concert halls and sports arenas support the law. Personally, I don't buy that for two reasons :
  1. They are in business to make money. So, why would they care who buys the tickets as long as they are bought ?
  2. If they are truly concerned about making sure that Joe Six Pack gets a ticket to a game or concert at a reasonable price, then they could simply refuse to sell the tickets in large blocks to the brokers.
Instead of more government regulation, I have a better solution to the problem the Tennessee Legislature is trying to solve. First, the "gubmint" should stay out of it and allow the free market to work out a solution. Second, one solution would be for the ticket industry to "self-police" itself. For instance, the concert halls and sports arenas could simply choose to sell the tickets ONLY to individuals, and maybe set a limit, such as 4 or 6, as to the number of tickets one individual could buy. Then, consumers could decide if they are willing to pay the prices the venues set. If they are, fine. If not, simple economics will force the prices down to a level consumers are willing to pay.

In the article mentioned above, Senator Beavers says that she is opposed to the law, because it would take away the purchaser's property rights. She goes on to say that, in her opinion, "Once you buy a ticket, what you do with it is your business." I know many will be shocked, but I agree with Senator Beavers 110% on this issue, and I hope the state legislature quickly puts this bill in file 13 after session starts.

I am sure that today's article and my agreeing with Senator Beavers for once is surprising to some, particularly to people in Wilson County. A few may even wonder if a Sheepdog imposter wrote this article. I can assure you the author is I. I just want to be fair to Beavers, Obama, and other politicians by not only criticizing them when they are wrong, but by also applauding them when they are right.

Perhaps this article and the fact I agree with Beavers for once can be considered a "Christmas Miracle" in their own right. To Senator Beavers, I say good job and thank you in regards to opposing this legislation, and in the spirit of the season, I wish her and her family a Merry Christmas.

And before anyone asks, the answer is no - hell has not frozen over ..... yet.

Bad Sheepdog. Ruff !!

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