Sandel argues that queuing distributes goods equally, while markets distribute according to ability and willingness to pay. Since people have unequal ability to pay, markets distribute goods unequally. They are in that way unfair compared to queuing.
First, substituting queuing for a market just substitutes the currency of time for the currency of money. Sure, we all have 24 hours in a day. But we are not really all equally rich in time. Some of us have massive opportunity costs. vecchi e disoccupati sono avvantaggiati.
He fails to see how the dynamics of prices and markets work. Over the long run, markets drive the prices of most goods we want to consume way down. This means that all of us are in a real sense spending less time in getting those goods, more of us are getting them, and we are getting more of them. It is basic economics to say that our standard of living is higher now because the costs of pretty much everything in terms of time and labor is much lower now. When I was 20, I contributed hardly anything, but I had plenty of time to stand in line for “free” tickets to Shakespeare in the park. I certainly contribute much more now at 33 than I did at 20, but I don’t have time to stand in line for such tickets. Distributing via queuing punishes my 33-year-old self for taking on the burden of a job, and rewards my 20-year-old self for not doing so.
Those who purchased a Mercedes S-Class in 1980 end up subsidizing the Nissan Versa in 2013. They paid to make luxury features in luxury cars standard features in economy cars. We should expand our time horizon, and care about the prospects of the poor intergenerationally, and not just intragenerationally. We do not do that by asking people to stand in line.