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Scalping

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Assigned keywords: Foreign Language, Weblog

Every once and a while, I learn a new word and the problem it represents, such as "scalping". Squidi ofsquidi.net makes a fuzz about scalpers, being persons who will buy a Playstation 3 just to resell it at EBay later at a much higher price. He is outraged because they exploit the desperate, drive up the prices, yada yada yada.

I have a certain understanding of his position, and share some of his contempt, yet I don't follow his criticism. I do not see scalping as inherently immoral, at least not in this case.

In general, there is no such thing as a "just price". Price is determined by supply and demand, by what I am willing to pay to obtain something and what someone is asking to receive from me. A product like the Playstation 3 comes with a certain price tag, which is a general sum calculated by Sony regarding effects like production costs and desired profits. I come around with certain considerations as well, being my desire to actually own a Playstation 3 and my own wealth.

The current cost of a PS 3 is a certain sum (too lazy to look it up) and an undetermined amount of waiting time, which effectively drives up the cost, when I consider my time to be valuable. Buying an PS 3 now at Ebay will make me happy if the price is within the range of money I'm ready to pay to obtain one. If not, then I should not make such a deal.

Scalping is not immoral in this case because no true shortage is provoked by the scalper. There is no finite limit to PS 3, Sony will continue to supply the demand. Paying a scalper just means that you pay someone else for standing in a line that was too long for you. The need of others is not really exploited, because people can live happily without owning any PlayStation product.

There are other situations in which scalping can be considered immoral, that is, when people artificially limit a supply to drive up prices, especially in combination with essential products, such as water. There is no real alternative to replenishing my cells with some drinking water now and then.

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