David R. Henderson  

I Love Capitalism, Again

"Everyone" Does Not Equal "Mos... Oops. My Mistake...

Driving home from skiing today--it was a gorgeous day in California, by the way--I saw a Bass Pro Shops in a city called Manteca. I had only seen it advertised on TV, but had never seen a real one. On TV it looked so huge that I thought the real ones could not be that big. Wrong. It really is that big. The place is a toy store for both adults and kids, especially for males.

I went in and went straight for the motorboats. When I was a kid, we had so little money that I learned just to appreciate looking at things I couldn't ever imagine being able to buy. I remember during the long winter months in Canada going to the same page in our Eaton's catalogue and looking at and dreaming about motorboats. Today, I can easily afford to buy a boat but I'm not planning to and I still get that same enjoyment out of just looking at the boat and run my hand the whole length of it. Indeed, I taught myself so well when I was a kid that I can go through a store and see lots of things I love, leave empty-handed, and still have a good time.

But the deals at Bass were so good that I actually did buy three things. I love collecting caps but, with rare exceptions, won't buy them unless I can get them for well under $10.00. Their own Bass Pro Shops cap was priced at only $5.99: I'm sure it's because of the free advertising they get when people wear their hats. The next thing that I put in my cart was a beautiful head lamp for only $20. Then I found a part of shorts made of nylon and tried them on: they fit perfectly. Also, one of my big frustrations with shorts in the last 10 years or so is how long they make them: I don't like shorts that come close to my knees. These were actually shorts. Price? $15.00 (actually, $14.99, but I round.)

I love capitalism.

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COMMENTS (9 to date)
mulp writes:

Is this the Bass Pro Shop chain that like Cabela's and bunches of other chain stores wrings government subsidies out of the local community so the local taxpayers pay for the land, the improvements, and pick up the store's taxes just to get the store to locate in the town and create a few hundred retail jobs?

Maybe you shouldn't be thanking capitalism, but rather the taxpayers of Manteca for the low prices.

david writes:


States generally regarded as 'capitalist' all grease the rails of private enterprise anyway, so the sort of subsidies you describe are pretty much standard to capitalism. Investment logically moves to places that provide subsidies, even if the subsidies are funded through coercion.

Henderson did not credit laissez-faire, after all; he credited capitalism. Presumably warts and all. And capitalism is, indeed, great at meeting diverse wants.

Willem writes:

There is an externality involved in shorts. Perhaps the designers figured that out.

Ted Craig writes:


They don't do it to create a few hundred jobs. They do it to generate thousands of dollars in sales which are then taxed.

Joe Cushing writes:

You should find a cabela's and go in.

david writes:

Ted Craig, that makes no sense. The taxes have to be higher than the subsidy for county- and state-level governments to want to offer them, but then why would a business consider this attractive?

Jim writes:

Mulp is right. Business and government working together to exploit taxpayers (to the tune of $45 million dollars in this case) is criminal, even if it might benefit certain groups of consumers, such as fishermen.

If this is capitalism, then libertarians should oppose capitalism as Sheldon Richman recently argued.

Ted Craig writes:

Here's how sales taxes work in most states:
The state collects the tax and then returns at least a portion to the municipality from which it came. Sales taxes allow municipalities to expand their tax base beyond local residents, as David Henderson's story illustrates.
Few municipalities have income taxes. Most states have sales taxes. It's not about the jobs.

Does that make sense?

Paul writes:

Who cares why THEY do it! Just that THEY provide jobs from the private sector should be good enough. If you havent noticed our taxation/trade laws have done a great job of exporting our jobs to other countries where taxes/laws arent so burdensome.
If you want to create jobs and an economic recovery, invest in making it easier for the private sector to get loans and lighten taxation laws. Then watch unemployment rates decrease and this so called recession dissappear. Thats capitalism and how it should work!!

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