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The Hannah Montana Crisis

There’s a piece in today’s WaPo about the growing outrage over ticket prices to some of today’s hot shows and concerts, a trend driven in part by ticket brokers gobbling up tickets and reselling them for up to 10 times the face value.

Drawing sharp criticism, and legal scrutiny, are the tech advances that enable resellers to buy huge blocks of tickets within minutes. In at least one lawsuit, filed by the ticket-selling goliath Ticketmaster, the courts moved to prevent a Pittsburgh-based tech firm from selling its ticket-buying software to resellers. (Ticketmaster sets a number of rules about how its tickets may be purchased, many of which are violated by the auto-dialing programs and software known as “bots.”)

The fury over hi-tech scalping reached new levels in recent months as parents nationwide faced the prospect of paying as much as $3,000 to get their kid a ticket to Hannah Montana, the insanely popular tween heroine of the Disney Channel show played by Miley Cyrus (daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus).

Now, I love my kids as much as the next Mommy, but I’m just not sure I can get all that worked up about this problem. Do I think parents who shell out three-grand on a kiddie concert are irretrievably stupid? You betcha. And do I think it’s unfortunate that people of more modest means are being crowded out of concerts and other events? Of course. But isn’t this happening all over for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with reselling? (My God, look at what’s happened to the price of good seats at sporting events.)

By and large, rich people get better access to everything, whether it’s Hannah Montana or health care. And not to be harsh, but nowhere does the Constitution guarantee anyone the right to a reasonably priced concert ticket. Yeah, it's a drag that non-flush folks are missing out on some fun because people with more money than sense have made the resale market so lucrative. Then again, I’m not sure why we should feel any sorrier for these deprived Americans than for seriously poor folks who could never have afforded the original price of a ticket.

These things happen in a free market. Somehow, the republic survives.

--Michelle Cottle