Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More about purchase rights

I think that the comments were on to something. When I was writing that post I was searching to the ends of the earth to try and justify my position and the more I thought about it the harder it was to justify and in the end it is just plain wrong. Where it fails is exactly what was pointed out. No buyer would want to have you making a profit by making it tougher to sell their bag. If they did give you this 'right to purchase' it would not be an unqualified right. It would be more like an easement. Yes you have it and you can use it to buy the bag, but you can't let someone else use it. In other words your right to buy is limited. It is only a right to buy. Also there is a problem about selling the right. She pointed out in the comments that 'there is only one (bag)'. Also once you sell your right to buy you still have the right to buy because you can't really sell it. I don't think my point is coming across quite clearly, but the main point is that you don't have a right to grab bags and make others pay. I think the store would be well in their rights to chuck anyone they saw doing this. I would imagine it does happen on occasion.

That brings us to I think another point. The point about selling water at higher prices after a hurricane. Sabrina says it is 'ethically vapid' to take advantage of someone in this manner. I am not so sure about that. I think when you use the water hurricane example it definitely is morally wrong. The hard part about the argument is because it is situational. Is it 'ethically vapid' to buy a property that is highly sought after for the sole purpose of waiting until it is worth more to sell it? I think not. Yet this is nearly the same situation. The difference being if a person needed the water to live. Let's assume they don't and they will be fine, but water has just become a hot commodity. We have to assume this because nobody needs a Kade Spade bag in order to survive. I think the statement that it is 'ethically vapid' to acquire something that is in high demand for the sole purpose of reselling it is wrong. If this were so then the stock market would be ethically defunct. You buy on speculation hoping it will be in higher demand and then you sell. I guess the question is whether the store situation is more like the hurricane water or the stock market.

I personally think it is more like the stock market and I think the way these sales are conducted by people like Kate Spade invite this type of activity. They come out with a box and dump it out and let whomever can grab on to it get it. It creates an atmoshpere of limited supply and high demand. It also creates a first in time first in right atmosphere. If they didn't sell this way then you wouldn't be able to do this. For instance if someone in a regular store tells me they'll let me buy the particular shirt they are holding I will laugh at them and then walk over to the rack and grab one in my size and buy it. It is sort of a what did you expect argument. The reason I think this argument holds is the fact that they create this fervor over their product. They send out promotionals that uplay the elbowing and 'grab it first' and 'fight it out' mentality. If I put a bunch of bees in a box and then shake the box like hell then I expect them to come out stinging.

In the end the original thought was that there was a right to sell. There is no right. So it is not necessarily right, but I wouldn't go as far as saying it was wrong or 'ethically vapid'. I think there are situations where this exact behavior is morally reprehensible and there are different situations where the behavior is perfectly acceptable. I don't draw the line at this. Remember though that I would personally hold myself to a higher ethical standard. I don't draw the line in so far as I wouldn't punish the behavior, but I also wouldn't personally endorse the behavior. Drawing lines of where something is ethical at the boundaries is far different from a statement proclaiming the acts to be worthy of praise or something to be imitated.

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