Saturday, April 01, 2006

eBay, Blue Peter and market stupidity

Remember when I said this?
on 80% of the issues that matter to me, I'm pretty close to the Lib Dems
Well, some people took that to mean I agreed with the LibDems 80% of the time. Not true. On the 'big' issues (is the ones I write about here), the Lib Dems are the most sound. On others? Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear:
Two MPs have tabled a Commons motion demanding that internet auction sites ban the sale of Blue Peter badges.

Liberal Democrats John Barrett and Andrew George have condemned what they say is an "unscrupulous" practice.
Guys? It's called a Market Economy. If an item gets you priviledges you don't want, and others do, and it means little to you, sell it. If said item will make your life, or that of those you care about, better, then buy it. If you believe it's worth the money, this is called 'positive utility'. It's a basic principle; I understand it, and I'm not an economist.

The BBC chose to issue an item that had not expiration date and no link to one specific person, and negotiate cheap entry deals in many many attractions. Um, can anyone else see the obvious flaw here?

"Unscrupulous"? Maybe. Rational? Absolutely. I have lots of items left over from my childhood and early adult life. There's a huge pile of them by my door. It's getting smaller as I sell bits of it. Some of those bits, I don't want to part with. Others I don't care about. If someone wants to give me money for something I don't want?

That's called freedom.

Note to the BBC. Make them person specific, or stop whinging. Note to the two LibDem MPs named above. Get with it, the whole point of Liberalism is you agree with basic market principles.


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Anonymous said...

Ah. I think you miss the point. To a certain generation a Blue Peter badge was a poweful signifier of societal merit, like a Purple Heart in the US or a MBE to an older UK generation.

As for me I believed that a Blue Peter badge was one particular emblem of a society that excluded me, and that if could find a way of winning one, I could be reasonably confident that I could live a normal life like any white Briton. (an assumption that I couldn't make then, since my parents couldn't, even after two decades of working life in the UK.)

But for all the years I watched Blue Peter, I never saw a British Asian or Black person get one. Nowadays, of course, you can't get in the studio for ethnically diverse guests (and good, too), but they don't give out BP badges any more either... And I made a perfectly good life for myself as a Britsh Asian, even without a BP badge.

But that is now. This was then. So good on John Barrett and Andrew George for demanding respect for a lost icon of British culture.

True, I wouldn't buy one now, for 99p or 99 grand. That would be... disrespectful. A BP badge was once worth more to me than anything money could buy. That's a hell of a thing. But you - you wanker! - understand that if it's worth the money, this is called 'positive utility'. It's a Market Economy. Well done. You understand the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Git.

MatGB said...

Ah, no. I understand the point entirely.

I just don't believe it's the business of the government or parliament to intervene and regulate private issues such as the sale of badges.

Blue Peter have for years been issueing badges with no identifying features, and now they're being traded on eBay. Do you really think they were never traded before the internet was invented?

Free entry to attractions is worth something.

The sellers feel it's no longer worth anything to them. That's up to them. If it is such a symbol as you assert, why are they selling them?

(Oh, click 'other' when posting, and put a nickname or something in?)

Anonymous said...

Ok. The badges are valueless to the seller, and to you, valuable as long as they have a measurable value on e-Bay, and to me, beyond value, then, but now beyond value (let alone ownership) on the terms that I originally valued them. Time to get on with my life, I think.

Longrider said...

Matt's right - this should be nothing for the government to be involved in. Value is subjective. I won two when I was a kid. I still have them somewhere. I have no plans to sell them, but would resent deeply any government interference in my right to do so should I wish.

This is no different to the concept of people buying and selling medals.

chris said...

Matt is absolutely right, if a bit of plastic is for you beyond price then go and buy one! The price will be an absolute steal.

If on the other hand what you really want is the ceremony and symbolism of being awarded one then what are you complaining about since nobody buying on eBay will be buying that either, unless they make a private contract with some former presenters and rent a BBC studio for a day.

Paulie said...

Am I alone in almost losing the will to live when I read someone saying...

"To a certain generation a Blue Peter badge was a poweful signifier of societal merit, like a Purple Heart in the US or a MBE to an older UK generation."


MatGB said...

I was pretty much accepting it as typical blogger hyperbole, which, let's face it, is something none of us can really complain too much about...

I did love the closing insult though. Well, single and male. What do you expect?