Teenager sells PS5, Xbox Series X and Pokémon cards to the bank

A handful of $ 20 bills

Photo: Justin sullivan (Getty Images)

The Wall Street Journal published a long laudatory article about a 16 year old teenager child who has spent the last 18 months buying and then selling things on the internet, with a particular focus on “elusive” video game consoles like the PlayStation 5.

He also bought and sold Xbox Series X consoles, Pokémon cards, and sneakers, while finding a market for more mundane (but also more essential) items like heaters.

In other words, it’s a reseller. Someone who buys products at retail price and then, after buying something that is otherwise out of stock, returns it at an inflated price, determined by demand.

Resell fucking shit, for reasons I’m sure you are already aware of, but which I will still list here. For starters, reselling makes it harder to buy things you want to buy, because stocks are bought by people who don’t want the thing – they only want the value associated with it. And then the practice makes buying this thing much more expensive, since resellers by definition charge more for their stock than a store would.

Well, it’s so … dark as a principle. It is a market created entirely from scratch, the most miserable industry of terminally ill capitalism imaginable. Resale has no other goal than to enrich those who are able to find their way between a product and the market for which it is intended.

Resale is a nuisance for people trying to buy cool shit, like video game consoles or sneakers, and in times of a global pandemic, a real problem for people trying to buy essentials, like medicine and toilet paper. It is a practice that is the easiest thing in the world to condemn.

But not if you are the the Wall Street newspaper! Their profile on the teenager bursts out. He’s a kid, a cunning entrepreneur, someone smart enough to figure out a way to make money and take it. He marvels at the amount of money he makes – $ 1.7 million in earnings last year, with $ 110,000 in profit – and calls him a “tech-savvy teenager.” [who] exploits the supercharged resale market for rare goods ”.

Does anyone at WSJ stop considering that these goods are largely rare because of the resellers? Or read and then reread this passage?

Reselling non-essential goods in most cases is legal, although retailers generally disapprove of it as it can create friction with consumers. Hateful mail and trolling from buyers angry at premium prices accompany the territory. [The teen’s father] said he was initially uncomfortable with his son’s business success as he was benefiting from a situation created by the health crisis. But he concluded that it was allowed because his son only sells luxury goods, not essentials.

“It’s a real distinction,” said [the dad], 61. “It’s capitalism.”

Of course they did. It’s the the Wall Street newspaper, the bootstrap of the free market is their bread and butter. “It’s capitalism” indeed, baby.

I don’t want to hang this child outside to dry here. The teenager, like all of us, is going through the vampiric capitalist hell that is 21st century America, and this reality has shaped him accordingly. The kid’s banter with resale here – and the brush against national fame – might just be a phase he one day remembers as a changed man.

Or not, whatever, I’m not her father, and the kid isn’t really the topic here anyway. There are countless other people like him, the NNew York Times presented a similar example, although less successful recently– and the problem is not necessarily individual, but systemic.

Resellers are thriving right now because the market allows them, and has been powerless (and in many cases simply reluctant) to stop them. It doesn’t matter to Sony whether a PlayStation fan or a dealer buys a PS5 because they’ve made the sale. It doesn’t matter which Nike buys a pair of sneakers, as long as they have the money.

And it doesn’t matter to a reseller how badly we might want something that supposedly cost $ 500, but now costs $ 1,000 because the only people who own them are the ones who just want them to resell them.

It just sucks. Everything sucks in all of this! And instead of businesses, politicians, and the media looking for solutions, we’re either getting corporate shrugs or inspiring profiles like this. Much of the frustration people have with reselling is that it seems like an insurmountable problem, a horrific consequence of generations of politicians and consumers resigning themselves to ‘let the market speak for itself’.

The father of the child said it himself, what is happening here is not illegal. And maybe for him it’s OK. But for the rest of us, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is right.

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