Thursday, February 27, 2014

America Pawned is America Pwned

Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker. 
It does not matter which side
of the counter you stand on.
Pawn shops have taken one or two thousand years of criticism.  The bottom line is that they are resources for the community.  If you want to go into business, which would offer the best opportunity: a pawn shop or a lending library? That said, the fact that pawn shop have proliferated in the suburbs is a stark narrative not captured in government statistics about gross domestic production and unemployment claims.

A new suburban tradition
The fact is that the Reagan-Clinton years were the longest period of economic expansion in American history because America was involved in no large wars and no strong government programs.  Moreover, the House and Senate majorities were close and changed frequently, denying an "imperial presidency" to the White House.  All of that changed with the 21st century.  From the Dot.Com Meltdown to 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the so-called Mortgage Crisis and the Bush/Obama Bailouts - protested by Occupy and Tea Party alike - America and the world have suffered a long recession.
Can't tell a pawn shop from a bank.

Recessions are not necessarily bad.  The last "long recession" ran from the "Crime of '73" to the Panic of 1907.  Workers formed unions and agitated for the eight-hour day while farmers called for cheap silver money to pay off their debts.  In fact, prices fell because of increased productivity from industrialism, just as our "information age" lowered transaction costs.  Back then the new technologies were the railroad, telegraph, telephone, and typewriter. That did little to assuage the farmer or factory worker who found their incomes falling faster than the prices of the things they wanted to buy.  So, too, today, are suburbanites ready customers for pawn shops because their own real incomes have fallen because  the federal government tripled the money supply.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS


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