It's a mob scene at some mom-and-pop retailers across the country.Economists and social scientists have a name for this type of behavior where consumers make a choice to spend their own money in the business of their choice to purchase goods of their own choosing: "shopping." More technical terms are "commerce" and even "capitalism." Recently I have noticed this phenomenon numerous times at the supermarket, Wal-Mart and even the local mall. To a country increasingly accustomed to being told what they can and cannot buy, what they must buy and where they must buy it, and even what they must give away free of charge, this new behavior may seem shocking and even seditious.
Organized groups of do-gooders — "cash mobs," modeled after public-spectacle "flash mobs" — are descending upon small businesses, snapping up merchandise and rallying at pubs afterward to celebrate their pro-community mission.
The shopping sprees have taken place in dozens of cities from San Diego to Buffalo. The packs organize on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, where they get details on where and when a strike will occur.
Farmers markets, toy retailers and hardware stores have been on the hit list. Mob members typically spend at least $10 to $20.
So where will this movement take us as a country? Is there a nascent Occupy Hotel Rooms movement waiting in the wings? Imagine people walking into hotel lobbies, paying for a room, and then staying there as long as they want. And if they wish to extend their stay, they pay more. Occupy Motel Rooms, Occupy Bed and Breakfasts, and even Occupy Campgrounds might catch on, too. It gives one the chills.
Ancient writers such as Frederick Hayek and Milton Friedman theorized about economic activities like this, but it is exciting to actually see their ideas taking hold. If this concept of businesses selling goods to willing, paying customers gains traction, there's no telling where it might take us. Call me crazy, but I envision a 30-year-old law student testifying before Congress and pleading with our representatives to allow insurance companies to sell health insurance that covers those treatments and medications that the consumer and the company have agreed upon. I know, social utopianism is a false promise. But I can dream.
This post was originally published on March 16, 2012 at Blogger News Network.