‘Hard Core Pawn’: A Microcosm of the Welfare State

Film producers can turn anything into a reality TV Show. Some of the most interesting shows on television these days are real-life situational production. Some of the most popular are Gold Rush, Ax Men, American Pickers, Auction Hunters, Storage Wars, and Pawn Stars. Networks like them because they’re relatively inexpensive to produce. There no high priced actors to pay, no sets to build, and no special effects. The shows are what they are.

One of the most gritty and depressing is Hard Core Pawn. “The series premiered on August 16, 2010, delivering 2 million viewers, setting a new record as truTV’s most-watched series premiere ever.” It’s about the day-to-day operations of “American Jewelry and Loan,” a family-owned pawn shop on Greenfield Road between 8 Mile Road and the John C. Lodge Freeway in Detroit, Michigan. It’s more than a shop; it’s a 50,000 square foot mega-store of every item imaginable. It’s also a microcosm of what liberalism has done to the poor.

I noticed a lot of lawnmowers. I suspect that they’re there because of the crash of the housing market in Detroit. Who needs a lawnmower if you no longer have a lawn to mow.

Les Gold, the owner, has said that Hardcore Pawn is a more-realistic portrayal of a pawn shop than Pawn Stars:

“There will be people from all walks of life laughing, crying and experiencing a wide range of emotions. Every item has a story. And some of these stories are incredible, whether you believe them or not… We’re a Detroit-made business that represents what real pawn shops do… [catering to a] wide range of real people who need money.”

I realize that only the most interesting and outrageous people get aired and that some of the incidents might be staged to make better television. I also know that not everybody is as rude, crude, foul-mouthed, and belligerent as some of the people who are portrayed in the episodes, but there are so many of them on the episodes that you have to wonder what happened to these people. There is an entitlement mentality with a lot of them, even among the less outrageous.

In addition to the foul language, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who come in to pawn or sell items believe that the owners of the store owe them. They’ll put their junk down and demand a certain price and protest that they’re not leaving until they get it. One young man brought in a 15-year-old TV and a DVD player held together with electrical tape. He demanded a certain amount of money as if it was his right to have it and the store’s duty to pay it.

I suspect that there are millions of voters out there who share the worldview of many of the people who bring in items to sell or pawn. We live in a demand and you-owe-it-to-me culture, and too many of these people show up to vote.

The pawn shop is reality; it’s the way a real economy works. You get what someone is willing to pay for it. There are no subsidies, entitlements, or bailouts. No one pays you for junk. You’re not going to get a loan on your good name. You’re going to have to leave something of valuable behind to get the loan. There’s no Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to guarantee the loans if you can’t pay. A day doesn’t go by without Les reminding his team, “The customer isn’t always being truthful.”