Saturday, September 10, 2016

Churchill and the EU

During the referendum campaign, I'm pretty sure I heard Churchill's name invoked on several occasions. I've just finished reading his Nobel Prize-winning history of the Second World War. There were a large number of interesting snippets in there, and it's well worth a read. I thought his thoughts towards the end of the last volume about his idea for a world order following the war were worth repeating.

I have always held the view that the foundation of a World Instrument [that is, a basis for organising international politics] should be sought on a regional basis. Most of the principal regions suggest themselves - the United States, United Europe, the British Commonwealth and Empire, the Soviet Union, South America. Others are more difficult at present to define - like the Asian group or groups, or the African group - but could be developed with study. But the object would be to have many issues of fierce local controversy thrashed out in the Regional Council, which would then send three or four representatives to the Supreme Body, choosing men of the greatest eminence. This would make a Supreme Group of thirty or forty world statesmen, each responsible not only for representing their own region, but for dealing with world causes, and primarily the prevention of war. What we have now [1953] is not effective for that outstanding purpose. The summoning of all nations, great and small, powerful or powerless, on even terms to the central body may be compared to the organisation of an army without any division between the High Command and the divisional and brigade commanders. All are invited to the headquarters. Babel, tempered by skilful lobbying, is all that has resulted up to the present. But we must persevere. (From Triumph and Tragedy, Chapter XXXVI)  
Lots of bits and pieces in there. But with regard to Europe, we can see that Churchill had in mind a "United Europe" - but one which did not include the UK. We can also see that the principal function of international politics, as far as he was concerned, was the prevention of war, rather than economic. This was obviously as the Cold War got under way, and on the back of forty pretty disastrous years for Europe.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Modern ticket touting

I heard a news article, probably on Radio 4, about the problem of ticket buying and reselling. Businesses use deceptive means (credit cards in false names, multiple addresses) to buy large numbers of tickets for shows when the sale opens, and then resell them at significant markups. The big ticket companies, like Ticketmaster, have a ticket resale wing, and this is used - much more anonymous than eBay with its rating system. Now, there will always be a reason why people need to resell tickets. Someone in a group might get sick, for example. People might decide they want to go for a date that's released later on. But that doesn't seem to be what's dominant.

We had the opportunity to see it in action today. We were tasked to try and secure a couple of
tickets in the presale for a Twenty One Pilots gig at Alexandra Palace on 11th November this year. Literally within minutes of the presale opening, possibly less than a minute, no tickets were available.

By 9.30, that is, just half an hour after the presale OPENED, there were over 270 tickets being resold on Getmein, the Ticketmaster resale website. The markup was £10 or more per ticket. The tickets on Getmein were all being sold at around the same price - presumably this is a fairly mature tour, so by now the people buying to resell have a pretty good feel for what the market will bear. Valuable societal skills right there.

Some bands and artists have already reacted against this. There are means of regulating it which would make it much less desirable to touts. For example, Getmein could limit ticket resale price to the purchase price - why should someone reselling tickets make a profit from the transaction? Who does that benefit? Or, especially given that the tickets aren't normally sent out until a few weeks before the gig, they could offer resales only a week before the tickets would be sent. The trouble is, at the moment, Getmein/Ticketmaster makes even more money this way - they end up getting commission for selling the same ticket more than once!!

Just to let you know, if this is how you run a business and you happen to be reading this, then you're a spiv and a parasite. You are making money off other people's work, whilst adding no value of your own and just ripping other people off.