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Walter Hudson

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September 23, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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“That is just wrong,” posted one commenter in response to a story out of Los Angeles which raises vital questions about the morality of the market. From Ubergizmo:

A businessman in L.A. took scalping to a whole new level, when he picked up about 100 homeless people from Skid Row in Los Angeles. He promised to pay them if they waited overnight in the line outside Apple’s retail store in Pasadena, California. Since Apple allows customers to purchase no more than two units, he would have had 200 iPhones, all while paying each hired hand $40 for the trouble.

The operation did not proceed as planned. When the employees within the iPhone store heard what was happening, they refused to sell to the hired buyers. The scalper then refused to pay those who were unable to deliver iPhones to him. That upset the homeless crowd and aroused a disturbance which prompted police to escort the scalper away for his own protection.

Heads shake and fingers wag in reaction to this scheme. This scalper exploited homeless people, the story goes, proving himself to be a jerk at best and perhaps even a criminal.

The incident evokes a similar story involving Trader Joe’s. A guy from Canada drove down through California to buy inventory from the grocer which he then resold back home (where no Trader Joe’s stores exist). We used to call that an import business. Like Apple, when Trader Joe’s discovered his operation, they refused to do business with him. Yet it’s not entirely clear why, because he was helping them get their product to a market they have not otherwise reached.

Likewise, in the Apple case, the iPhone scalper was providing a value to all parties concerned. Obviously, the homeless people were getting income they otherwise would not have. Apple was moving its inventory. And the scalper’s end-customers had access to a rare and desirable product without having to wait in line. Whom did this hurt exactly? How was anyone’s access to trade unjustly restricted? There is no right to purchase a product at a particular price under particular circumstances. That’s why the police rightly deemed this a “business issue” and not a crime.

It may be tempting to scoff at the scalper’s refusal to pay those who were unable to purchase phones. Then again, we may safely presume that the agreement was for orders fulfilled, not attempted.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (19)
All Comments   (19)
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until I looked at the receipt that said $6457, I be certain that...my... mom in-law realy earning money part time on their apple labtop.. there sisters neighbour had bean doing this for only 7 months and resently repaid the loans on there apartment and bought a top of the range Honda. you could try this out
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47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"More important than the economic case, however, is the moral case"

you'll note that what he explicitly describes as "moral" reasoning, isn't. its MONEY reasoning.

ive never seen a clearer example of someone whos internalized the SICK "value" system of the money/market economy better than this.

PROTECT THE WEAK.
this is a basic law of morality.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
From where do you derive your "basic law of morality?" Biddle gets his from an objective consideration of the facts of reality. Life is our standard of value, and we sustain and support it through production. Since morality is a code by which we make our decisions, I'd think a better "basic law of morality" would be PURSUE YOUR VALUES. That's what everyone in this situation was doing, by the way. The scalper pursued profit, as did the homeless he contracted with, as would the end-customers, as does Apple... and its through that pursuit that the weak (and every else) are served. Serving others at your own expense makes no sense for anybody. It's not sustainable. Somebody has to produce. Somebody has to earn. Somebody has to make something or otherwise create value. Otherwise, we're just draining the tank instead of filling it. Working with others to produce something, like this scalper did with these homeless folks, is the only true way to serve people.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
From the pictures of the incident, the scalper dude appears to be of the swarthy persuasion, perhaps Arabic since he was going to sell his scalped phones in the Middle East. The homeless people interviewed appear to be even swarthier, as in African American. So what we have is a brown man using black people to sell to other brown men a white device.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
guess business had better not be paying people on basis of sales/productivity because according to how some may read this the person was hiring people to produce a result, the purchase of the phone, and they didn't do it.

But unless the person paid they in advance, how were they going to make the purchases, or was the person just showing up at the time the store opened and they were there already and would be making all purchases.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a training program. The bums are in training so they'll know how to stand in line properly to get their Obamaphone
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 'naked capitalism' arguments make sense in the abstract. But as applied, well, if you have to ask what's wrong here, you wouldn't understand the answer.

If you prefer to brag and bluster, you've misplaced your compass somewhere in a very dark place close to home. Can you find it with a flashlight?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Huh? Is this even a thought? This got a like?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some things just aren't worth the effort, a lesson you may never learn.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you hire someone to do something, you pay for their time whether or not something is done. E.g. McD hires a cashier, nobody came in the door for the hr, McD pays for the cashier's time for standing around. The homeless have waited in line for the scalper. The SOB was exploiting them, not hiring them.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't be ridiculous. You've clearly never hired anybody or run anything. A cashier in your scenario would either be put to work in another capacity, laid off on account of being useless, or be out of job when the business collapsed under its own weight.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nope often a person is hired based on his production, sales forces are generally commission based.

How about real estate offices, people put in a lot of time and often get nothing when the sale goes south.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
It amazes me how people torture logic to support their political views. McD pays the cashier to be there in case someone wants to buy something. Maybe they make it clear that the cashier can be asked to sweep the floor if the store is empty. Whatever - the point is that both parties know what is expected and agree of their own free will.

Some people are sharper and more devious than others - perhaps this guy new there was a certain risk that Apple wouldn't sell to these people but kept that to himself. Not a very nice guy but at least he taught the homeless people a lesson. Progressives see us all as easily duped and in need of legislative protection from guys like this. I would say that word will get around and this guy will never be able to pull that off again. Score one for the free market.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course Mickey D's could also pay the cashier on a commission basis. Only paying the cashier on the amount of business transacted. I don't think they'd get many hires as a cashier can only ring up sales, not in a good position to solicit sales.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You mistake California as part of a free nation.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
They use the term over employment to describe this situation when labor is cheap.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The scalper has to give them money to buy the phone. Why didn't they take the money and run? Why waste a whole night?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would imagine he was at the front of the line giving them the money as they went in the store then retrieve the new phone and pay them. No way would I leave the cost of an Iphone with a homeless person alone overnight. Or, as someone else suggested go in with each of them and pay for it for them.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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