One of the single most fundamental elements of our economic success is the notion of property rights. Combined with free market capitalism and the rule of law, they provide the not-so-secret sauce that has fueled the greatest prosperity engine in the history of mankind. What this requires is a common understanding that an individual’s possessions are theirs to use as they see fit, as long as a crime isn’t being committed. As technology and innovation continue to advance and create new opportunities and markets, protecting that system becomes an ongoing effort.
Several years back, I purchased a gently used Volvo SUV. I didn’t buy it directly from the manufacturer, or from the Volvo dealer for that matter. I used a website that connected me with sellers from around the country and made the purchase from a private owner. We negotiated a price suitable for the both of us. I was aware of the service history, and by signing the contract “as is” I was entering a caveat emptor transaction. Meaning: Volvo didn’t care, have a say, or any authority over the purchase (I don’t even believe they were aware of it). When the cash transaction was completed, the seller’s private property became mine. I’ve since put 120,000 miles on it — the car has earned the purchase price several times over.
Currently, the second-hand market for event tickets operates in a similar fashion (albeit a less pricey one). Buyers have a series of options at their disposal to find and purchase tickets to sports matches, concerts or other events. They are often connected to sellers via web sites or apps that, at the end of the day, create a viable competitive market. Buyers and sellers are able to make informed decisions and act in a manner best suiting their needs — this is free market capitalism at its core. And it needs to be protected from the inevitable push of crony capitalism that’s increasingly being seen in pushes for regulations and unnecessary restrictions.
If Joe and his family have tickets but can’t attend the Tampa Bay Bucs game because their daughter just contracted COVID, and Sarah and her kids are looking for tickets because she wants to celebrate a new promotion, we should celebrate the connection of buyer and seller. There should be zero barriers to the market solving needs. The market works as opposed to government regulations that impede and restrict, hampering economic activity and growth.
Defending free markets is the mission of the James Madison Institute. This is why we’re thankful for a proposal from Rep. Randy Fine and Sen. Ed Hooper — two policymakers who get it. Their policy reform would ensure that the second-hand market is protected from being strong-armed. Florida, with more sports teams, concerts and large-scale events than just about anywhere on the planet, is a ripe target for using regulations to stifle second-hand markets and generate anticompetitive advantages.
Just like Volvo shouldn’t be able to dictate what I do with my automobile now that it’s my private property, no one should require you to waste tickets to an event you can’t (or don’t want to) attend. Rep. Fine and Sen. Hooper would protect this right by ensuring ticket buyers always have the choice to buy a freely transferable ticket. It would also prohibit ticket issuers from penalizing ticket buyers who choose to transfer, resell, give away, or donate their tickets.
These are the types of ideas we should be seeing in a free state like Florida — effectively using state policy to protect free markets and ensure that private property rights are not only enforced but celebrated. I don’t want Volvo telling me how or when I can sell my car, and I don’t want anyone telling me what I can do with the concert ticket I can’t use either. I’m hopeful that Rep. Fine and Sen. Hooper’s concept is both popular and bipartisan as it gets debated in Tallahassee this session.
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Sal Nuzzo is the vice president of policy at The James Madison Institute.