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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/23/13

Of Brawls, Businessmen and The Surrogates For Self-Indulgence: The Gotta-Have-It Greed Over iPhones Says A Lot

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"There is this difference between man and the higher animals: he is avaricious and miserly, they are not." - Mark Twain.

       "Pasadena: Fights broke out and two people were cited Friday morning outside the Pasadena Apple Store, where nearly a hundred people had been hired to stand in line for a businessman who planned to resell newly released iPhone models."

As a "TaskRabbit", I get up to 200 posts a day in my email requesting bids for odd jobs. Last week's posts, however, looked more like an advertisement for Apple's latest iPhone and the subsequent greed which it engendered. Indeed it was a new type of greed: paid substitute greed. Offers ranging from $35 to $80 to stand in line (the $80 for overnight) were rampant in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hundreds of surrogate "buyers" were paid thousands just to stand, sit, sleep, in front of Apple stores.  

Willing to pay up to $100:

       "Find 32g AT&T gold iPhone (and/or ticket for standing in line) at an Apple store within 30-45 minute drive for me to exchange my space grey 32g iPhone."

Self indulgent, yes, but, the color made all the difference you see.

I did not answer any of the posts to be a surrogate of self-indulgence, but many others did. Many others had the time. Many others needed the money. The TaskRabbit posts were legitimate and above board. The situation in Pasadena, however, showed that greed can be considered legitimate, but need not be ethical.  

Surrogates For Self-indulgence

The Pasadena story almost beats the greed of buyers   trampling a Walmart clerk to death   in an ensuing sale. But the greed is by one man and he "trampled" scores of homeless. He was also acting on the greed of others - under the cover of ________, a kind of "trickle-down greed" that pretends at times to help the poor, but does nothing but exploit them. He employed surrogates for self-indulgence and didn't pay them.  

A Case for Judge Judy

Point #1: The unidentified "entrepreneur" engaged an entire group of people to secure a place in line for him, promising $40 for the service of standing in line for hours.

Point #2: Vans picked the people up and transported them to the iPhone store.

Point #3: The people stood in line for him.

Point #4: The store refused to sell the man more than a "handful" of iPhones.

Point #5: The man refused to pay the people who stood in line for him.

Point #6: The people were left stranded at the Apple store without means of transportation to get back to the shelter.

Did the man enter into any form of verbal contract with the homeless people?

By accepting the ride in a van did the people acceed to the terms of the contract?  

Did the man bother to find out if the store would sell him 80 iPhones no matter how many vouchers he had?  

Did the man take any responsibility at all for his actions?

Yes. Yes. No. No.

Pay up, mister. "I didn't do anything illegal" doesn't cut it. You did. You broke a contract, you may have hijacked a group of people on false pretenses. You intended to defraud Apple by presenting a lot of surrogate vouchers.*  

Greed Triumphs Over Justice

The man in question got police protection. And stark reality sets in after one sees the video: the irate homeless were handcuffed, several were given citations, and one man who may have been mentally ill was restrained.

Pasadena police are not investigating the incident, [Pasadena Police Lt. Jason] Clawson said.

"It's not a police issue. It's a business issue," he said.

The business being exploitation based on greed. 

* All the TaskRabbit posts were for standing in line until the real buyer showed up. Multiples were not requested, so no fraudulent vouchers were given out. The fact that Apple did not specify only one phone per person does not mitigate the dishonesty of the act of obtaining surrogates for vouchers. The man was lucky to get his "handful" of iPhones.


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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books éČ" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)
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