My wife and I went out to dinner this weekend. Through a very winding conversation that started with Memorial Day and the purpose of our military, it wound up at the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I noted that aside from being unconstitutional (there is no article or amendment which allows the feds to grant super-rights to any specific classification of citizen - federal parking passes? Please!), the law eliminates the incentive for a business to target disabled people and offer them extraordinary products and services.
As a result of the ADA, most businesses look at the disabled as a lawsuit-in-waiting. Screw up one tiny piece of one paragraph of the ADA, and you're potentially on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, court fees and construction costs.
Why would a business bend over backwards to attract that kind of grief?
My wife said she understood what I was saying, but she worried that businesses would discriminate against the disabled. They wouldn't be able to go into a store and buy what they wanted, when they wanted.
I said, "Hallelujah!"
As a businessman, I can think of no better, "plum to pick" than an under-served market. Give me the chance to target that market, and I'll make a ton of money.
Now, this isn't some theoretical, textbook view. I'm in the process of doing this right now.
Thankfully, there is no law that says that Precious Metals shops must make special accommodations for women. If there were such a law, my competitive advantage over my two primary competitors would evaporate.
Most coin/bullion shops cater to men. At best, the owners are condescending when women ask what kind of bullion is available, what kind of coins are a good place for their kids to start collecting or how to properly evaluate a coin for collector value. Most under-pay or over-charge women because they see them as easy "marks".
These shops are gym-like boys clubs.
Cool. While our competitors are "zigging", we're "zagging".
I can't tell you the number of women that have come in to sell us old/unwanted jewelry and liked our shop so much they go home and get their bags of 90% silver coins they were given when a relative passed away.
I can't tell you how many coin guys have come to our shop and called their wives to grab their old, unwanted jewelry and bring it down because our shop is a place they would feel comfortable with their wives being treated fairly.
I can't tell you how many women have walked into our store, got a whiff of one of those Glade Plug-in thingies, commented on how comfortable they felt in the store, and returned later with their girlfriends - and their gold jewelry.
If there were a law that said all shops had to make special accommodations for women, we wouldn't be nearly as busy and successful as we've become in just 8 months. Our biggest problem right now is handling ALL of the customers that walk in the door.
With an American Women Act, I wouldn't have that problem. I wouldn't be scrambling to hire more employees. I wouldn't have the problem of having to hire companies to clean our windows, shampoo our carpets or provide us with bookkeeping services. We three partners would still be doing all of those duties ourselves and that extra money would not now be circulating throughout our community.
We wouldn't have been able to increase our payout percentages for the jewelry we buy. We wouldn't have been able to afford the coffee beans for the fresh brewed cup of coffee or ice-cold bottled water customers are offered when they come into the store.
We'd just be another bland, middle-of-the-road business looking to get by, instead of one looking for new sites to expand our business.
Accept The Challenge
I think my wife's perspective is pretty widely held. People assume that if you don't protect some "disadvantaged" group, they will be ground into the mud and abused.
Just the opposite actually happens. With few (any?) exceptions, when government attempts to help a specific group, that group ultimately is harmed. Blacks, American Indians, the disabled all come to mind.
Look at American Indians. The tribes that get direct government hand-outs are destitute. The ones where government got out of the way and "allowed" the supposedly sovereign nations to build casinos or golf courses or whatever else they want, are thriving.
Regardless of your race, gender or other government-sanctioned special status, when Nanny gets out of the way, you will do better. Government is there to guarantee equal opportunity, not equal results. When they try and rig the game to better the odds of success for one group, the law of Unintended Consequences raises its ugly head, and bad things generally result.
Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates. www.BisonRMA.com