INCONSISTENCY in principle, practice, or legislation can be mystifying. Without consistency, uncertainty prevails. Without consistency, especially in how laws are framed and implemented, something entirely unacceptable in one situation is tolerable in another even if the same principles are in play.
That quandary, in this instance hardly a matter of life or death admittedly, is brought centre stage by Government proposals to outlaw ticket-touting. On one level — especially for someone trying to get to see a favourite performer — this seems an entirely rational, laudable intervention. It seems a rare blow for consumer protection we can all cheer.
However, it raises one of those questions Sherlock Holmes put in the three-pipe category. In what other instance is a
person who buys something precluded from reselling it at a profit? Is this not the foundation dynamic of all we do? It makes no sense that a person can buy a house and flip it for a quick profit but not do that with, say, a U2 ticket. This seems to epitomise empty-gesture politics but if this restraining principle was applied to, say, rents or development land...