Readers Write (May 1): Ticket scalping, Donald Sterling, the death penalty

  • Updated: April 30, 2014 - 6:42 PM

If scalpers find a market at higher prices, the face value should have reflected that, too.

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TICKET SCALPING

It’s a market; price ’em right to begin with

The writer of the April 30 Letter of the Day (“In the absence of legislation, it’s up to fans: Boycott scalpers”) complains that scalpers are selling Paul McCartney tickets for three times the face value while the official venue is sold out. But scalpers are not the bad guys here; they’re just the smart ones, because venues radically undercharge for popular events. Scalpers would disappear if they couldn’t make a profit — and there wouldn’t be such an enormous profit if there weren’t such a gap between the price and the value of the tickets.

Why isn’t Ticketmaster (or whatever ticket-selling entity) charging what people will pay — apparently, about three times as much as face value? Artificially charging too little (probably in order to maintain an image of “affordability”) opens the door for scalpers and resellers.

Computer algorithms could calculate how well tickets are selling and adjust prices accordingly. If sales were low, the price would drop. If sales were higher than expected, the price would increase. A consumer could use an app to set the range he or she is willing to pay, and get an alert when the price hits the target. Would-be scalpers would take an enormous gamble on being able to buy low and sell high — most wouldn’t be in business for long. And fans would have a far better opportunity to get tickets.

Catherine Walker, Minneapolis

 

DONALD STERLING

This was easy; we must think harder on racism

Like most right-thinking people, I applaud the actions of the National Basketball Association in response to the bigoted rantings of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. But before we overwhelm ourselves in an orgy of self-congratulation, we need to consider the fact that while this conduct shows bigotry, it is only one part of racism in America. As ESPN commentator Bomani Jones pointed out so eloquently this week, we have a habit of ignoring the deeper causes of racial inequality for the more easily condemnable statements of the Donald Sterlings and Cliven Bundys of the world. The NBA was well aware of Sterling’s history of racism and bigotry in his dealings with his tenants and employees.

Our ability to understand racism suffers from our ignorance of and our unwillingness to consider our long history of racial oppression — starting with slavery, through Jim Crow, and including segregation in housing, employment, finance, and other areas of everyday life. How many of us are aware that even landmarks of liberal policy, including the New Deal and the GI Bill, were founded in bias and discrimination against African-Americans. Until we are willing to acknowledge this history and its continuing effects, we are bound to fail in our attempts to achieve racial justice.

Maury Landsman, Minneapolis

• • •

Very clearly, it’s “an appropriate NBA ban” against Sterling, as the headline for a Star Tribune editorial indicated on April 30. The editorial’s final comment was “[r]acism has no place in the game — even if the source is a billionaire owner.” There’s one word I would change: Make that “especially” instead of “even.” People in a position of power who mistreat or demean others can have a wide, lasting impact. When the opportunity arises to limit that impact, it must be taken — and publicized as much as possible.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

• • •

Sterling has been banned from the NBA and publicly shamed after privately telling an acquaintance that he is uncomfortable with black people. Former NBA star Earvin (Magic) Johnson retired from the league in 1992 after contracting HIV while enjoying extramarital relationships. Before being diagnosed, he unknowingly exposed other women, including his wife, to the virus he carried.

Sterling’s tenure as an NBA owner is all but done, while Johnson not only remains incredibly popular with sports fans, but he has overcome HIV, has become part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and has enjoyed numerous other successful business ventures. The NBA has made no secret that it would welcome his involvement in ownership of the Clippers.

Two wealthy, accomplished men involved in despicable behavior; one is a hero, one is a villain. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Karl Klassner, Apple Valley

 

DEATH PENALTY

Another wake-up call for an unjust practice

With the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, which resulted in the man essentially being tortured to death for more than 20 minutes, along with the new study published by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) showing that one in 25 people on death row are innocent of the crime for which they are to be killed, can we at last curb our collective lust for revenge and abolish, as all other Western nations have long since done, the savagery of state-sponsored executions? The United States ranks fifth in the world in executions, just after the likes of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The United States executed nearly four times as many people as North Korea in 2013. That is the moral company we keep.

More than 140 death-row convicts have been exonerated by new evidence in the past 40 years, often due to technological advances in DNA analysis. Given that fact and the findings of the NAS, it is not surprising that a number of persons executed in the past 20 years are now believed to have almost certainly been innocent. Their blood is on all of our hands, and it will remain there as long as we continue this barbaric practice.

Stephen Lehman, St. Paul

 

WATERSHED DISTRICT

Those honors must’ve been too embarrassing

I read in the April 26 edition of the Star Tribune that the head of the Minnehaha Watershed District, Eric Evenson-Marden, was ousted from his position. The reason given by Sherry Davis White, the district’s board president, was that “we felt that the district needed new leadership to guide the vision and work of the organization in future years.” The very next paragraph states that Minnehaha was named Watershed District of the Year for 2013 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and that it had been named “Watershed Hero” by the Freshwater Foundation. It occurs to me that the Minnehaha Watershed District needs a new board.

Pam Pontzer, Hastings

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