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I went to a slew of yard sales today where I saw everything imaginable from dog toys to an antique stove from 1920 to a box of old Playboy magazines. And it hit me while I was baking under the sun: is there a better representation of the free market than the oddity that is yard sales? I’m surprised the government hasn’t tried to get their grubby little hands in on the action or try to regulate it in some way.

Consider, sometimes it’s planned and sometimes it’s just spontaneous, but neighborhoods are lined with people wanting to sell things they do not want anymore. They determine a value for their stuff and people coming by determine if they value the stuff more than the dollars in their pocket. Often, hustling ensues to get better prices. All of it is voluntary and it perfectly represents the voluntary and mutual exchange of the free market.

And it’s a beautiful thing. You get something someone else didn’t want and they get to part with that thing they didn’t want anymore. They make a little money and you make a little smile. It’s great!

Plus, the really smart ones offer cheap drinks or food or as I saw today, little kids set up their lemonade stands (and the government has tried to get its grubby hands in on that). I love the competition, the advertising and the whole freakin’ freedom of it.

There’s nobody trying to regulate it or say what you can sell or buy; it’s juts people figuring it out for themselves, as it should be.

And the reason in particular for  why I almost always jump at the chance to go to some yard sales is to add to my book collection. Most of my book collection probably comes from those. It’s the best chance to discover some gems for cheap. Like today. Plus, I think you can learn a lot about somebody from the books they keep. The books, if you can’t tell by this picture:

yard sales“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers

“Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf

“The Last Patriot” by Brad Thor

“The Vietnam Wars/ 1945-1990” by Marilyn Young

“Amazing Grace” by Jonathan Kozol

“A Civil Action” by Jonathan Harr

“Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The Pope’s Assassin” by Luis M. Rocha

“Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s failed conquest of Europe” by Adam Zamoyski

“The Intruder” by Peter Blauner

And a Superman action comics, the Return of Cauldron.

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