Religion & Liberty Online

HELP WANTED – Griff Tannen’s Hoverboard Emporium

Hey McFly! Put on your self-drying jacket and your self-tying shoes, because I’ve got a job offer you can’t refuse!

Hi, I’m Griff Tannen and my business, Griff Tannen’s Hoverboard Emporium is looking for part-time sales clerks. You probably know me from that time I smashed into the courthouse and was instantly sentenced to jail:

That’s me. I wasn’t really framed.

You might think of that as my lowest moment. It was certainly humbling. But now I look back at that day with gratitude, because it gave me the insight for this fine sales establishment.

But don’t just take my word for it, my business partner (and rabbi) Dr. Kirzner can help explain my business model:

there are likely to exist, at any given time, a multitude of opportunities that have not yet been taken advantage of. Sellers may have sold for prices lower than the prices which were in fact obtainable…. Buyers may have bought for prices higher than the lowest prices needed to secure what they are buying…. The existence of these opportunities opens up a scope for decision-making that does not depend, in principle, upon Robbinsian [means-end] economizing at all. What our decision maker without means needs to arrive at the best decision is simply to know where these unexploited opportunities exist. All he needs is to discover where buyers have been paying too much and where sellers have been receiving too little and to bridge the gap by offering to buy for a little more and to sell for a little less. To discover these unexploited opportunities requires alertness. Calculation will not help, and economizing and optimizing will not of themselves yield this knowledge.

Dr. Kirzner was going to wear two ties at the same time today, but then he remembered that he’d look like this:

What a dweeb!

So anyway, after I got out of jail, I was certainly “without means.” But I saw an unexploited business opportunity, and after some convincing, old grandpa Biff put up the cash for me to open this business.

You see, I realized that day that there is a whole demographic of potential hoverboard consumers out there who don’t realize that those cheap Mattel boards don’t work on water. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t my personal insight, but I’m the one who saw the opportunity for profit. That makes me the true entrepreneur. And anyways, the gang broke up after we got jailed, so I figured the idea was fair game.

You see, during my time in the slammer, I came up with the business idea for Griff Tannen’s Hoverboard Emporium. So long as there are snoopy, troublemaking teenagers and their crazy inventor friends joyriding to the present from the 1980s with their girlfriends, there will be a market for someone who can bridge the gap of imperfect information.

As much as I really wanted to bash in the back of Marty McFly’s head with my extendable baseball bat that day, I now am able to see things from his perspective. A little sympathy helped me consider his self-interest as well as my own.

I realized that if I were coming to the present from the 1980s, I wouldn’t know anything about hoverboards. If I walked into the random toy store, they’d have those pink and orange Mattel boards on display, but how I would I know that you have to go to a sporting goods store to get a Pitt Bull? How would I know that those boards don’t work on water?

So at Griff Tannen’s Hoverboard Emporium, we sell every kind of hoverboard. And our best sellers are the boards with mini jet engines that can fly across, for example, a man-made lake in the town square. We buy them for a little more than the sellers typically get, and then we sell them for a little less to time travelers would expect to pay, if they could even find them in the first place.


What was that? Oh, don’t mind him. That’s just Mr. Strickland, our store manager. He gets a bit overzealous about his job (“power tends to corrupt,” after all), but he means well. He’s really taken our HR director Lester DeKoster‘s philosophy to heart: “Work is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others.”

Here at Griff Tannen’s Hoverboard Emporium, serving the customer comes first. We serve the needs of others and each other, and in exchange we all take home a paycheck.

So don’t be chicken! Apply today!

Dylan Pahman

Dylan Pahman is a research fellow at the Acton Institute, where he serves as executive editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He earned his MTS in historical theology from Calvin Theological Seminary. In addition to his work as an editor, Dylan has authored several peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, essays, and one book: Foundations of a Free & Virtuous Society (Acton Institute, 2017). He has also lectured on a wide variety of topics, including Orthodox Christian social thought, the history of Christian monastic enterprise, the Reformed statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper, and academic publishing, among others.