In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

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John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

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Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

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April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

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Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

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The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 9, 2007 / 25 Menachem-Av 5767

Scrap the scalping laws

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm not a sports fan; never have been. Maybe that's why all the atmospherics surrounding ticket scalping raise more questions in my mind than they answer.

For example: Why is someone who sells tickets to a Red Sox fan outside Fenway Park for a heavily inflated price called a "scalper," while someone who charges the same fan $4 for a bottle of water inside the stadium is called a "concessionaire"?

Another question, admittedly not germane to the transaction itself: How can people who shudder with revulsion when Atlanta Braves fans do the "tomahawk chop," or who find Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians' cheerful emblem, politically offensive, refer so disdainfully to the resale of tickets as "scalping"?

But what I really don't understand about the scalping brouhaha is why anyone thinks the government should be involved in deciding how much a willing buyer can pay a willing seller for tickets to a lawful entertainment event. We all take it for granted that if you're willing to pay for the privilege, you can stay at the best hotel, live in the best neighborhood, eat at the best restaurant, or hire the best lawyer. So what accounts for the heavy breathing when some fans pay a premium in order to see Daisuke Matsuzaka take the mound or watch David Beckham bend it with the L.A. Galaxy? Or — this isn't only about sports — to hear Beyoncé sing "Irreplaceable" or catch a sold-out "Wicked" on Broadway?

Actually, around the country much of the heavy breathing has been subsiding lately. On Aug. 1, Minnesota dumped an anti-scalping law dating back to 1913, enabling ticket-reselling scofflaws to finally come out of the shadows. "This country was built on free trade and now I have to worry about more competition," scalper Michael Stratton told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But I don't have to worry about my daughters seeing me handcuffed."

In New York, too, consenting adults can now publicly engage in supply and demand. A bill signed by Governor Eliot Spitzer in June largely deregulated the resale of tickets to theatres, concerts, and sporting events. "Ticket scalping laws historically have not worked," Spitzer said. "I think permitting a free market to work its magic there is the smart approach."

They think the same thing in Florida, which repealed its anti-scalping law last year, and in Illinois, which embraced the free market in 2005, and in Connecticut, where reselling tickets at a profit will become legit this October.

All told, 42 states have decided that the heavens won't collapse if people who own tickets to games and shows are free to sell them for whatever the market will bear — as free as people who own real estate, shares of stock, Beanie Babies, or just about anything else. Last week, abandoning its irrational bias against scalping, Major League Baseball announced a five-year agreement with StubHub, a leading online reseller of tickets to entertainment events. Teams will recommend StubHub to fans who want to sell their tickets or buy some from other fans; in return, Major League Baseball will collect a share of StubHub's revenue.

Here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, however, a free market in tickets is still just a fantasy. For months, state legislators have been making noises about scrapping the state's archaic anti-scalping law, under which tickets may not be resold for more than $2 above face value. But while Beacon Hill dithers, Boston's mayor and police department have launched a holy war against ticket resellers, 21 of whom have been arrested near Fenway Park so far this year. Most of those arrested have been charged with not one, not two, but *three* crimes — ticket scalping, occupying a street for the resale of tickets, and unregistered hawking and peddling — for which the combined penalty can be as much as $800 and a year in prison.

With 45 murders in Boston so far this year — five in the past week alone — it strikes me as more than a little crazy to be siccing police officers on harmless ticket-sellers.

But even if Boston were as safe as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, treating scalpers as criminals would serve no public benefit. Price controls — whether on gasoline, medical care, or baseball tickets — are never a smart idea. They invariably distort the market, frustrate consumers, encourage hoarding, and lead to shortages. Letting buyers and sellers sort things out in a free market is the best way to keep the supply of any commodity available at a fair price.

Want to see the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium later this month? As of yesterday, StubHub had tickets for as little as $26 apiece. I may not be a sports fan, but that doesn't sound like "scalping" to me.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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