Love, Happiness, and Other Things Money Can’t (Or at Least Shouldn’t) Buy
I recently visited Washington for work while the Supreme Court entertained oral arguments in the ObamaCare cases. When I asked some friends to assess my chances of securing a seat for any of the hearings, they scoffed: “The professional line-standers have gobbled up all the tickets!”
And sure enough, both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran photos of intrepid souls braving the elements to stand in line overnight for a chance to receive coveted Supreme Court passes—for other people.
In fact, in D.C. and elsewhere, a cottage industry has arisen in which under- and unemployed people—including the homeless—wait in ticket lines for others in exchange for as much as $15 per hour. While this practice is well worth it to those individuals, law firms, and lobbyists with better things to do than wait around in line, it raises some interesting moral questions: Is it right to pay others to take one’s place in line in general, especially when most Americans cannot afford such a privilege? Should access to civic hearings of great importance be bartered on the open market? And are we somehow compromising the integrity of such events by commodifying them?