I have just returned from a short break in London. I went to the theatre a couple of times, and feeling like a lazy tourist, I went into one of those half-price theatre ticket outlets. Unfortunately they only had the most expensive seats for the performance that I wanted to watch so I didn't book them. Strangely, I went to the theatre box office for the same production and all tickets were available including some that are only sold on the day which are £15 as opposed to the top price of £57. The view to the stage was fine and I had just saved £42 on each ticket!
This made me think about our markets in general. There are times when a third party will make life more convenient for us but they want something in return. When I see 'half-price tickets' I should know that it is the middle man's job to make money. They don't want to sell tickets cheaply as they make more money by selling the most expensive items - and they make a livelihood. It should be cheaper to cut out the middle man. It should be more efficient to deal directly with the producer of the commodity or the provider of the service and it should not make any difference whether it is the NHS or street cleaning, providing transport or anything else you can think of.
The trouble is that we, as consumers, are lazy. We want middle men to make our lives slightly easier. It doesn't make for the most efficient systems but we need a balance between the public and private sector. Now I will always deal directly with the theatre's box office and maybe this is a good rule of thumb for anyone thinking of contracting out their service. Margaret Thatcher used a divide and rule method of thinking in her policies. What does it matter if there are no council houses as long as she wins the votes of the people who live in those houses? It certainly matters to those who want a council house. What does it matter if I am too lazy to deal with a box office as long as I use my money in a way that is convenient to me? This was Thatcher's strong answer, and the strong reply should be that it matters a lot because we are living in a society in which efficiency doesn't matter. Personal gain overrules the right thing to do - and that isn't right. We may have spare money but that doesn't mean we should spend it recklessly as individuals or as a society.
Change the world