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How The Free Market Works

Like my recent piece on Detroit, this closer-to-home entry is another item that’s been on my list of stuff to write about … Over the Christmas holiday, one of my kids participated in a concert at his elementary school – and did a damn fine job if I do say…

Like my recent piece on Detroit, this closer-to-home entry is another item that’s been on my list of stuff to write about …

Over the Christmas holiday, one of my kids participated in a concert at his elementary school – and did a damn fine job if I do say so myself.  After the show was over, I decided to reward him for his hard work with a treat from a nearby mom-and-pop convenience store.

I love giving my business to non-corporate, non-chain establishments … and this particular store has always had my admiration owing to a proclamation on one side of its 1980s-era marquee that reads “The Supply of Government Exceeds The Demand.”

Cool, right?

Unfortunately, what should have been a Norman Rockwell moment of tousled hair and soda pop bottles cracking open quickly went south … becoming a sad commentary on our country’s lurking dystopia.

After my boy had selected his beverage and treat of choice (a Coca-Cola and some neon string-looking sugar-coated candy), we approached the checkout counter – where the cashier was engaged in a friendly conversation with two customers about which lottery tickets they should buy.

While I’m a “no patience, no prisoners” kind of guy on this website, in real life I am incredibly demurring.  I don’t huff and puff while waiting in checkout lines, and I always treat servers and cashiers courteously – even if they provide terrible service.  As the modern American customer goes, I’m pretty much a pushover.

I wait quietly, in other words …

With this outlook on consumerism in mind I sat there with my son for thirteen-and-a-half minutes while these two customers repeatedly purchased – and played – the games of the South Carolina “Education” Lottery while standing at the checkout counter.  And while the cashier took note of my son and I throughout this process – he not only failed to accommodate us, he actually sat down on a stool and joined the two lottery customers as they engaged in an extended conversation regarding which games they should play, what the odds of winning were and what each one of them would do with their winnings.

This went on … and on … and on.  Again …for  thirteen-and-a-half minutes.

Ordinarily, I never would have stood around and waiting that long … after five minutes or so I’d have quietly put back the items I was planning on purchasing and left the store without comment (letting my money do the talking).  But my kid had done such a good job on his Christmas concert – and I had promised him we would stop at this particular store and get him the very specific neon string-looking sugar-coated candy he coveted.

So there we stood … my son doing his best not to eat his arm off and me doing my best not to lecture the imbeciles ahead of me regarding the futility of their enterprise.

Eventually (again, after thirteen-and-a-half minutes) the two lottery players finally ran out of money and departed the store … dejected.

Needless to say, this store isn’t going to be getting any of my business anytime soon … and my son, who used to always beg and plead for us to go inside on the ride to school each morning, hasn’t mentioned the place since.

This website has been highly critical of the South Carolina “Education” Lottery.  Implemented a decade ago, this scam was sold to voters as a new funding mechanism for our state’s failing government-run schools – although the money it generates has instead been routed to a host of other boondoggles.  The Lottery’s director – Paula Harper Bethea – has also been linked to some pretty shady slush fund activity in her dual role as head of this agency and the “economic development” grant agency she oversees.

But this isn’t about any of that – nor is it about the hypocrisy of state government running a gambling racket at the same time it cracks down on private sector gambling.

No, this is about simple choices in the marketplace … the ability to “vote” with one’s wallet or pocketbook on the basis of whatever determining factor you deem appropriate.

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15 comments

tomstickler January 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Only relevant if you confirm that the event occurred in the business pictured.

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NoName January 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Agreed. Call out the store in question and let the market forces affect them as they may. If the store owner gets wind of this event and percieves that it might adversely affect his business, perhaps he fires the inept cashier, and makes an effort to improve his business to avoid such situations in the future. That’s a win for everyone, and maybe the store wins your business back in the future.
“inept” is a chartiable characterization of the cashier’s behavior, though. Sounds like it bordered on punitive, as if to say “you don’t look like you’re from around here.” But I’d be surprised if someone working as a cashier at a hole-in-the-wall place like the one pictured was astute to know about profits from lottery tickets vs the huge margins on sales of convenience store snack items.

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CNSYD January 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

You are correct, this is how the free market works. The store knows that their “cut” on lottery sales would exceed the profit from the items you had in hand. Therefore they went for the higher profit. Ain’t that how it is supposed to work?

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Jesus H. Christ! January 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

The free market is a two way street. Maybe they just don’t like you. :D
(Joking, that is lousy customer service)

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Smirks January 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Who gives a shit about the lottery? Sounds like you got screwed by a bad cashier and unfortunate timing with a customer that’s going to be a long wait to get behind. If I get stuck in Burger King’s drive through for 13 minutes, I might blame the burger flippers, I might blame the guy in front of me for making a big order, but the last thing I’d be mad at is Ford, just because the guy in front drives an Explorer.

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CNSYD January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Sic Willie is trying to work this story around to how the lottery is in league with “government-run” schools and the reason he was ignored is because we don’t have vouchers.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein January 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Vouchers and a FAIR TAX would solve everything, dontcha know?

*TBG actually supports both, as they are an improvement over the current systems. A utopia they ain’t, though.

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Manray January 9, 2014 at 11:43 am

I scratch my head about these matters. For many decades the U.S. set the world’s standard for education and academic achievement — all with “government-run schools.” Now it is no longer so. Maybe it isn’t the schools systems fault? Maybe the problem is…dare I say it…us?

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Socialist Fairy Tale January 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm

The school systems are “us”.

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JJEvans January 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm

In my experience, when I visit a convenience store to purchase a Coke Zero (my vice), I am always stuck behind people taking an excessive amount of time purchasing their lottery tickets in the hope that they will be the next big winner.

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TontoBubbaGoldstein January 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm Reply
tjshealy January 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Delete

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TheTruth22 January 8, 2014 at 9:44 pm

This story is so transparent. You blame the lottery for poor customer service in a store. The people in line were probably regulars (I see this stuff every day) and “friends” with the cashier. They could be in there the next day talking about football, not buying anything, and you would still have had to wait in line while they talked. If you haven’t noticed most convenience stores don’t abound with customer service. Sounds like you don’t like the lottery and you are using your soapbox to put it down. Your closer about voting with one’s wallet is laughable, because even though you claimed to wait for over 13 minutes (who stands in line in a convenience store 13 + minutes?) you still spent money in the store! As for the not leaving because your son did so good spiel…Have you noticed there are convenience stores like every other block? Oh I forgot you had to stay at that one because of their cool anti-establishment sign.

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Manray January 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

Oh my God…you mean the vaunted “free market” isn’t perfect? Why in GOP-Land it is the solution to ALL problems.

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euwe max January 10, 2014 at 3:54 am

In a libertarian universe, you could have pulled out your gun, shot them all, and walked out with your son’s treats gratis.

“voting with your feet” as they say.

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