Our Vice President mistakenly shot his friend while quail hunting and has received a lot of attention for it. A colleague of mine from Texas tells me that hunting is a big social event there – “it’s like playing golf where I come from,” she said. Last month I went skeet shooting with a friend here. It was a first for me (at least on land – I tried it on a cruise ship once before), and as I think of it, it actually did feel a little like golf (there were 18 ‘stations’ on the course). In keeping with the analogy, some might think of Cheney’s incident in the same spirit as if he swung his club with his friend ahead on the fairway, didn’t call “four” and hit him with his ball. But that probably wouldn’t have made the news.
All this talk about guns reminds me of an early commentary on my book that I came across in this blog. The blog was posted on, of all places, a second amendment website. The blogger argued that if eBay will be a big part of our future of shopping (as I predict in my book), then it could ultimately affect our right to bear arms. Why? Because eBay doesn’t allow the sale of guns on its site. As eBay gets bigger and becomes mainstream, the blogger argues it could eventually control what we buy and sell.
Perhaps his argument has some merit.
This week, a government agency forced Wal-Mart to carry emergency contraception in response to a complaint filed by three women who were refused the ‘morning after’ pill. Why? Wal-Mart’s decision not to carry the product (except in Illinois where it is required to by law) had the potential to affect a large amount of the population. “Wal-Mart is not only the world’s largest company; it is also the largest company in the history of the world,” according to Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect.
Ebay facilitated the sale of $44 billion last year. Over 180 million people have registered to transact on their site. As it grows and becomes mainstream, its influence on consumers will match, or perhaps exceed, that of Wal-Mart’s.
Like Wal-Mart, we may soon see the day where, for better or worse, our government limits eBay from restricting the sale of certain goods because of their massive influence as well.