Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boomsticks: Economics 101.

Customer: "Hey, I was wanting to trade my Blastomatic Thunderboomer in on that new Euroshooter 2000. Do y'all take trades?"

Me: "Sure. What do you need to get out of your gun?"

C: "I don't know. As much as I can get, I reckon."

M: "Hey, I have price tags on my stuff. Be fair, give me an idea of what you want."

C: "I really don't know. I think it's worth $450."

M: "Indeed it is, and that's probably what I would sell it for. But I can't buy it from you for what it's worth and then try to sell it for more than it's worth. If I tried that, it would be dark in here, and my staff would be very hungry."

C: "Well, what would you give me for it?"

M: "I could probably allow you about $345 on the trade in. This will allow me to price it at $450 and still have a bit of room to haggle, as customers are wont to do on used firearms."

C: "But I paid $575 for it!"

M: "Indeed. That is the going tariff for a new one, which yours manifestly is not. I can't put a used firearm in the showcase for the same price as a new one."

C: "But you said you could sell it for $450!"

M: "Indeed I can, and so can you. Just not to me. If you wish to sell it to a private individual, I would recommend asking $450; it should move reasonably quickly."

C: "But I don't know anybody who wants to buy it..."

M: "You could put an ad in the Thrifty Nickel, or walk it around the floor at the next gun show."

C: "That sounds like a lot of hassle. Plus, I don't want to sell it to a stranger, or have strangers coming over to my house to look at it. I don't know..."

M: "Does that sound like about $105 worth of hassle?"

C: "I don't... What are you getting at?"

Sigh. It's obvious that "Adam Smith" is just a name in the phonebook to a lot of folks these days...


pdb said...

Ah feel yer pain.

I love explaining to a skeptical mom that what she paid $50 for six months ago is now retailing new for $20, so I'll be selling it for $14 and therefore I can give her $8 for it.

No, wait, I hate doing that. I also hate the attitude that I'm the one ripping them off, not that the buyer was too dumb to wait six months and save $36. I also hate the implication that the satisfaction of selling them the $50 new game that they're trading in on (that I make a whopping $6-8 on) is consolation enough to not make money on their used game.

I also like the guys who wander in with a beat to heck Atari or NES with the expectation of swapping out to get a new PS2, because it's a collector's item! And they go for like $400 on eBay!


I have to go to work now.

Porta's Cat said... is all just part of the game. You do the same thing to the poor car salesman when you are buying your next gas guzzler...

"What do you mean $XX,000?!?! for that thing? Why my father in laws cousins girlfriends sister got one just last week for $3000 less, and the dealer tossed in floor mats!"

never make it easy on the seller, because even if he is fair he is trying to make it easier on himself than he is you.

And, yes, I do own a business.

BobG said...

It's amazing how many people are ignorant of the most simple economics.

pdb said...

Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't personally mind hagglers, even if I usually don't budge from prices. "What else are you gonna buy with it?"

"You can get that cheaper somewhere else. Good for you!"

No, the hagglers at least know that they're playing the game, unlike the guy in Tam's example who was blissfully unaware there was even a game to begin with! Or he was under the impresson that the store existed as a library of firearms, where putting one back on the shelf means that you can pick out another at no cost.

There's cheap, then there's dumb. I don't mind cheap but dumb makes me sad.

Les Jones said...

"Or he was under the impresson that the store existed as a library of firearms, where putting one back on the shelf means that you can pick out another at no cost."

Oh, man, would I love that. If only.

1894C said...


That was the best micro-economics explanation I ever read.

Well done.


Tennessee Budd said...

Adam WHO? Oh. yeah. he played Batman.
Yes, I'm joking. I do indeed know who Adam Smith was, even if I am a Tennessean.

AdaM said...

The "Invisible Hand" needs to slap some sense into alot of people these days..

B&N said...

Most folks have never been to college, Tam.

Of those who have, ALL slept through Econ101, which means that only those who actually want to learn about economics are willing to spend the time to read something about, or by, guys like Keynes and Say. Besides, it's too high-thinking for most people to understand.

I long ago lowered my expectations when dealing in this kind of situation with the troglodytes. Hope you can keep your cool better than I can.

Zendo Deb said...

Its worse in the realm of commodities - which guns are not, even though there is well-defined market price for most of them.

Try to explain to someone that the price of gas does not reflect what it cost to produce, but reflects the collective detemination of the value of a barrel of oil. (How many people know what an open-outcry auction is?)

As if the value of the gold necklace they got from grandmama had anything to do with what it cost to produce is 1910.

What I don't get is that he thought an honest excuse to go to the next gun show wasn't worth it. How often do they have gun shows up your way? (This is the slow season in Florida, and there is still one this month within a 30 minute drive, and 3 next month, though one is about 45 minutes and onther several hours away.)

phlegmfatale said...

It's distressing how many dim bulbs there are among us.

Cowboy Blob said...

I ought to wear a sign when I go to gun shows, "No, I'm not looking for quick money from a dealer, I'm looking for someone who wants to own a ____ at a good price." That'll prevent some of the awkwardness that occurs when they call me over asking me what I'm selling. Some day when I *need* the money, I'll go straight to a dealer and lower my expectations. [Knock on wood] That hasn't happened yet.

Lizard said...


I spend a lot of time on MMORPG bulletin boards, arguing with amazingly clueless people. (Thus ignoring Mark Twain's famous dictum about arguing with an idiot.) There's two general species of cluelessness: The first is the belief that the retail cost of the game and the monthly fee paid magically turns into cash in the pockets of the programmers. Not even the managers or CEOs...the *programmers*...and that, therefore, they're all lazy trillionaries. The second is that some 'cool' feature should be implemented which will drive away 95% of the players and render the game unprofitable. I often foolishly waste my time explaining why their 'cool' idea will never, ever, ever, be implemented and close with "Adam Smith pwns j00, noob!"

They never seem to get it...

Mebbe we ought to stop teaching kids all of that thar 'sensitivity' stuff, and start teaching 'em some basic economics. I'll bet kids in China -- *Communist* China -- have a better understanding of capitalism these days than American kids do.

Hm. I might need to buy a shotgun from you, so I can sit on my porch and say "Damn whippersnappers! Get offa my lawn!"

Anonymous said...

"Most folks have never been to college, Tam."

Given how the majority of college graduates have difficulties doing simple word problems, college doesn't hold much water these days.

B&N said...

I think "anonymous" is one of those "dim bulbs" that Phlegmy was referring to.

Some people haven't a clue when someone is making a joke.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that must be it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the joke should have been humorous?

B&N said...

Hey Anon, been there and done that, as they say.

Whilst at the university, all 6 years, it occured to me that most of the kids running around me were never given to the thought of learning. They were either there to have fun on daddy's dime, or studying for the exam, instead of acquiring knowledge, or possibly wisdom.

I find college grads to be some of the stupidest folks around. They flash some sort of "degree" in your face and try to pass it off as some sort of qualification to do something. ALL of the smartest people I know personally are self-educated, and historically, most of the best thinkers were same.

I work with other architects and professionals (mostly engineers) all day, and almost all of them can't see anything beyond a certain, narrowly focused (and self-imposed), vision of what their responsibilities are. Think about that whole forest and tree metaphor.

So, while someone who has been to college MIGHT be able to recite to you the whole spiel about supply/demand and rudimentary economics, he almost certainly doesn't understand it.

It wasn't suppose to be funny, as in Ha-Ha, but funny, as in tragic.

BTW, not trying to flame you. Just sayin's all.

Billy Beck said...

You should see some of the nonsense that I see blowing through electric guitar markets. They're visible a mile away in the online action, and one can tell, after a while, which ones are really clueless and which ones simply have an attitude on. I can imagine how some of those "negotiations" would go.

Always hate to see this.

mdmnm said...

Now I feel foolish. A while back I took in a Norinco SKS that I had bought right before the "assualt weapon" ban in hopes that either prices would go through the roof or that it would be as much fun as a M1 carbine. Prices didn't and it wasn't. Local store offered me $130 in trade that I could put towards the CZ527 American in .223 that I really wanted (theme of "guns shooting cheap ammo" here). I was tickled that I only lost seven bucks for holding that Chinese junk for about the same number of years and discovering that I didn't like it. They got to make a profit between the price of the CZ and resale of the SKS.

Rick O'Shea said...

I didn't sleep through (all) of my Econ101 class, but I was terribly disappointed to learn that we weren't going to talk about real guns and real butter...

staghounds said...

The thing that I find odd is that people get all upset about somebody else's economic decistin. If I want $1000 for my beater SKS, what's it to you? If I only want to give you $100 for your M1, it's my money isn't it? Just say "no, thank you", and move on.