I caught this one on Robert Ringer's blog and thought I would share it. Certain posters have already denounced Ringer as evil, crazy, wacky and every other epithet those kinds of people use when they simply don't agree with other's opinions. No doubt they will chime in with those kinds of comments on this thread.
I find Ringer refreshing. He uses the example of a real-life Pawnshop as a microcosm of free enterprise at work in a simple and delightful way.
There's lots of great stuff at robertringer.com, BTW.
Finally, Some Good Crap
By Robert Ringer
Long-time readers know that I have an aversion to television fare that is known in finer circles as “crap TV.” This includes everything from brain-numbing sports shows to “let’s pretend it’s true” stuff like The
Bachelor, Survivor, pro wrestling, etc. It’s heresy to say, but I can’t even bring myself to watch Oprah. I like a little entertainment now and then, but crap TV gives me IBS (Irritable Brain Syndrome).
That said, I’m going to come out of the closet on this one: Embarrassing as it may be to admit, I happened across a crap TV show that I actually enjoyed. It’s on The History Channel, and it’s called Pawn Stars. It’s about a real, live place in Las Vegas called the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.
I guess boob-tube addicts would call it a reality TV show, which is all the more embarrassing for me because I’m convinced that reality TV shows are phony. If you believe that people act normal when there are cameras following them around the house, then you probably believe that in twenty years of attending the Trinity United Church of Christ, BHO never heard Jeremiah Wright say anything inflammatory.
Having said this, it’s time for me to rationalize in order to save my reputation. Pawn Stars is different. Honest engine, it really is. Naïve as it may sound, I get the feeling that what you see on Pawn Stars is pretty much the way these guys act day in and day out — without cameras around.
The main characters are:
“The Old Man” (legal name Richard Harrison). He’s a crusty old guy who went into the pawnshop business after going broke in real estate. He’s old — very old — calm, cool, collected, and doesn’t see much about life that’s funny. Central casting could not have come up with a more perfect character for this show.
Rick is The Old Man’s son and partner. He looks to be fiftyish — totally bald, congenial, and an expert at spotting things that are fake. He’s a high school dropout who’s been working in the pawn business since he was thirteen. The Old Man thinks he’s got a big head, and constantly jabs him with putdowns.
Corey (“Big Hoss”) is Rick’s son. He weighs 330 pounds and is constantly trying to prove how smart he is. His dad, Rick, thinks he’s an idiot.
Chumlee (legal name Austin Russell) is Corey’s life-long friend, and has been working at the pawn shop since he was a kid. He’s at least as overweight as Corey, if not more so. He’s a likable character who always wants to give the customer the best possible deal — not a good mind-set for someone in the pawnshop business.
As I watched the show for the first time, what I was trying to figure out was why in the world I liked it. I was worried that perhaps I was going the way of most Americans and simply losing my mind. But after the show was over, I figured out why I enjoyed it so much: It’s a comedic representation of the free market!
Pawnshops have been around for thousands of years, and for most of that time they were the main source of consumer credit. The reason they’ve lasted so long is that they are truth personified. A pawnshop is a forum for non-coercive transactions between consenting adults.
If a pawnbroker buys an item for ten cents on the dollar, a progressive would see it as exploitation. But, in truth, such a transaction is victimless, because the seller only sells his item if he is satisfied with what the pawnbroker offers him. Whether he would like to get more for his gizmo is beside the point. All that matters is whether or not, in the end, he voluntarily accepts what the pawnbroker is willing to pay.
It’s quite humorous to watch how each person who comes through the door — with items ranging from totem poles to Civil War swords — has a story to tell. In Pawn Stars, they go to great lengths to assure Rick that whatever it is they are selling is genuine. You can just feel how badly they need the money.
A guy may ask $3,000 for an item, only to have Rick counter him with a $200 offer. Almost without fail, the seller then goes into a long and sad tale about how badly he needs the money — which, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with what Rick can afford to pay him and still make a profit.
In the end, Rick and the seller may compromise at $350 or so, and guess what? The seller always appears to be happy. When interviewed, a seller would often say something to the effect of, “When I walked in, all I had was a piece of junk that was taking up space in my home. But when I walked out, I had cash in my hand.” He may have wanted more, but he was happy to get what he was paid. If not, he would not have accepted it!
The free-market story here is one that politicians and civilian progressives don’t understand — and don’t want to understand: Transactions between consenting adults are always fair. What some third party (e.g., a politician) might believe is unfair is nothing more than his personal opinion. A transaction that doesn’t involve him, and that is devoid of coercion or aggression, is simply none of his business.
Now that I’ve come out of the closet and admitted that there is room for at least some crap TV in my mind — good crap, I would argue defensively — I recommend that you catch an episode of Pawn Stars. It will get your mind off the little issues, such as communists being hired as presidential advisors.
I think it airs at 10:00 pm (EST) on Sundays, but check it out in your local area. It will remind you again how simple and pure the free market works, and it will give you some laughs in the process.