Welcome to the “Flea Market Economy”

Submitted by ARL contributor Harry Tuttle

What’s Your Labor Really Worth?

Some economists argue that there is no such thing as unemployment, merely an unwillingness to do the work that is available at a market rate. 

As shocking as that might initially sound, I’m inclined to believe that there is some sense to that line of thought.  I know that I’d find work for anyone knocking on my door offering useful labor for $5 an hour.  Just hasn’t happened yet and, to be sure, I’m not holding my breath.

When Life Gives You Lemons….

Well, in any regard, necessity is still the mother of invention.  What do you do when the unemployment benefits run out?  Despite the government’s “best efforts” to continue to extend these benefits, we know that many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are facing this dilemma.  We know this, in part, because, these are the unemployed that they’ve stop counting. 

So what do you do when they stop counting you?  Chances are good that you won’t be lining up to dig post holes for me at $5 an hour, so what will you do?  Maybe, more to the point, what would I do?  The way things are heading, we might all want to give this problem a bit more thought.

Make Lemonade

It may be a bit early to know how significant this trend is becoming, but I’ve started to notice “impromptu” flea markets popping up along the state highways.  On one stretch near our little town, I had noticed a fellow setting up a small stand selling the sort of items you might find at any garage sale.  A week later, his inventory had doubled, then tripled.  Within three weeks he’d been joined by several other sellers. 

I can’t help but applaud this evident (if somewhat sad) demonstration of nascent entrepreneurialism.  Yes, I find it a bit sad that it seems we might have more second-hand crap than productive talent (and/or honest sweat) to sell.  Still, those are people who aren’t, so far as I know, asking for handouts.

The Free Market Is Dead, Long Live The Flea Market

Perhaps, these are just the sort of “baby steps” we might begin to think about.  Let’s see if we can’t come up with something just a bit more productive.  For instance, you might actually make something to sell at these impromptu markets:  garden produce, greenhouse supplies, planter boxes, dog houses, bird houses, recycling bins, home-made screen doors, jewelry boxes, repaired/reconditioned electronics or fishing gear, a better mousetrap.  Get creative.

All I know, is that it’s going to harder for most of us to earn a living the way we’ve been doing it.  Ebay, for one, has shown that small-scale, low-cost, start-up businesses can support a family.  Who knew you didn’t have to work for the AT&T or Bank of America, or (God Forbid) the US Government? 

One thing to keep in mind:  The IRS is now cracking down on those vibrant little Ebay sellers.  There may be no effective way around such onerous intrusion, but we might reasonably expect the black/gray market to come up with other solutions.  Keep your eyes open and you’ll be surprised just how much you might be able to do in your own neighborhood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s