Because no calamity is complete without a little bit of small-time profiteering, the Washington Post reports that the owner of Ebola.com now wants $150,000 for the URL. Jon Schultz is a “merchant of disease domains,” according to the Post, who also owns such properties as birdflu.com and H1N1.com. He bought Ebola.com in 2008 for $13,500, and now, with thousands of infections in Africa and the entire U.S. beside itself about a few cases in Dallas, he thinks it’s time to cash out. “We’re getting inquiries every day about the sale of it,” he told the Post. “I have a lot of experience in this sort of domain business, and my sense is that $150,000 is reasonable.”
Is there anything inherently wrong with making a little money off a public health crisis in a way that probably won’t cause any lasting harm? Investors make far more money betting on the misfortune of others all the time—think about the hedge funders who made bank shorting the housing market before its collapse. But Schultz isn’t his own best advocate. When asked how he felt profiting off a disease that had already killed thousands, he offered up this dazzling analogy:
But you could say the same thing about doctors. …They can become very well-off treating very sick patients. Besides we have sacrificed a couple of thousands in parking page income to put up links about Ebola on the site. And people can also donate to Doctors Without Borders at the site.
Yes, Mr. Schultz, you are just like a doctor.