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(Some Guy)   Economist: It's the most wasteful time of the year, 'cause Santa Claus does a perennially poor job of matching gifts with recipients, which results in "an orgy of value destruction"   (failuremag.com) divider line 61
    More: Interesting, deadweight, matching gifts, economists, resource allocation, University of Minnesota  
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3189 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Dec 2010 at 11:13 AM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-12-06 11:15:36 AM  
flipthatbird.com
 
2010-12-06 11:16:49 AM  
That's pretty much the whole human race, isn't it? An orgy of value destruction?
 
2010-12-06 11:16:54 AM  
Even the dismal science is at war with Christmas.
 
2010-12-06 11:17:15 AM  

Santa Claus does a perennially poor job of matching gifts with recipients, which results in "an orgy of value destruction"


Value can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed to a different state.

For example, a horrible sweater may be transmogrified into something non-horrible, or possibly into store credit. (The variable here is the existence of a receipt.)
 
2010-12-06 11:18:45 AM  
Doesn't approve, nor gives a shiat.
backseatcuddler.com
 
2010-12-06 11:18:51 AM  
"an orgy of value destruction"? Moreso than, say, the exchange of cold, hard cash for econ degrees?
 
2010-12-06 11:18:52 AM  
Sighhhh, I actually agree with the Economist on this one.

Billions of dollars bled from our country to buy junk from Asia that won't ever get used.

As dumb as it sounds, it would be better to buy gift cards that never get used. At least that way the money gets paid out in bonuses to employees and dividends to shareholders.

/I get the same thing from my wife each year
//and I always appreciate the wrapping, whether it is new or not
 
2010-12-06 11:21:03 AM  
"an orgy of value destruction."

I just found a title for my autobiography.
 
2010-12-06 11:22:44 AM  
If you bought everyone what they really needed they'd all be deeply insulted.
 
2010-12-06 11:23:17 AM  
velocity.t-nation.com

Sign me up.
 
2010-12-06 11:23:43 AM  
If I buy a horrible sweater, someone benefits. The child in Pakistan who made it, or the shipping company who shipped it, or the clerk who folded it and put it in the window.
 
2010-12-06 11:24:40 AM  
Englebert Slaptyback: Value can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed to a different state.

It's like Christmas every day for these kids!

blog.compassion.com
 
2010-12-06 11:26:50 AM  
Which is why I refuse to participate. If I think of a gift that someone REALLY would appreciate then I'll buy it Otherwise don't buy me useless crap and I'll return the favor.
 
2010-12-06 11:27:42 AM  
I have only ever received one gift card that I didn't promptly lose and then find again shortly after its expiration date.

One of the most depressing things about working retail was the Christmas returns. Not really the returns themselves, because I think in the end everybody concerned wants the recipient to have something he can really use or that will give him pleasure. Just the attitude, and all the hassle. I could only hear the phrase, "I'm cashing in my Christmas presents" just so many times a day without getting bummed at the jadedness and wishing people had just known them well enough to give them cash in the first place. And then there were the hucksters bent on returning stuff I knew hadn't been bough there.

Of course, it was also depressing before Christmas, trying to convince people to get gift receipts for their purchases. "Oh, he won't need to return it. He'd BETTER not return it!" And you couldn't push it on them with the cold, hard fact that he was indeed extremely likely to return it, without being a Scrooge.

That's why I like giving and getting booze. At least it's always good for a regift. (Old boss used to give wine; I was never without a hostess gift on short notice.)
 
2010-12-06 11:33:15 AM  
Brown Sauce: If you bought everyone what they really needed they'd all be deeply insulted.

My sister used to give me things the oddest things. She'd say, "I got you this because I know it's something you'd never go out and get for yourself."

It was so farking hard not to say, "You're right, I would never buy this for myself, for a good reason"
 
2010-12-06 11:33:17 AM  
My wife and I have had a few disagreements this year about gifts for Christmas for friends...

I argue "Why get them something for the sake of getting them something? If they're not going to actually use it, just save the money and get them a gift card they will use."

She argues "Gift cards are impersonal".

I argue "I'd personally rather get a gift card than something I'll look at and say 'well isn't that nice' and then either return, throw away, or regift..."

Surprisingly, it has worked for different presents and saved me a few bucks =P Presents this year include functional presents over gadgets and gizmos and knickknacks.

Pretty sure it's also one of the best Christmas's I've ever had in terms of how little we spent on presents. Sorry, economy, I've got medical bills to pay.
 
2010-12-06 11:35:11 AM  
This is exactly why I'm switching to consumables/disposables for all my gifts from now on. It's something I have been wanting to do for a few years but this year is the first that I actually did it.
 
2010-12-06 11:35:41 AM  

ttintagel


I have only ever received one gift card that I didn't promptly lose and then find again shortly after its expiration date.


FYI - gift cards no longer expire. I think the worst the merchant can do is deduct a small "monthly maintenance fee" or something if you haven't redeemed the card after two years.
 
2010-12-06 11:35:51 AM  
I see gift cards as more personal than cash, because you can at least show that you know what a general area of interest would be for the recipient.
 
2010-12-06 11:36:47 AM  
If only some benevolent empire from across the ocean would come over and ban this barbaric, wasteful practice.
 
2010-12-06 11:36:55 AM  
Englebert Slaptyback: ttintagel

I have only ever received one gift card that I didn't promptly lose and then find again shortly after its expiration date.


FYI - gift cards no longer expire. I think the worst the merchant can do is deduct a small "monthly maintenance fee" or something if you haven't redeemed the card after two years.


Good to know!
 
2010-12-06 11:37:09 AM  
vodka: This is exactly why I'm switching to consumables/disposables for all my gifts from now on. It's something I have been wanting to do for a few years but this year is the first that I actually did it.

We're doing the same thing for friends and most family. It works well.
 
2010-12-06 11:38:58 AM  
I can't find the exact quote, but I love the part in "Hogfather" (the film, at least) where Albert explains to Death why, despite the Hogfather's magical powers, poor children still get cheap gifts and rich children get expensive ones.

"BUT IT'S NOT FAIR".

1.bp.blogspot.com

So this Christmas, skip the clown sweaters and cheese baskets, and give a gift that will MAKE THE WORLD MORE FAIR:

OXFAM Unwrapped
 
2010-12-06 11:39:19 AM  
cryinoutloud: Englebert Slaptyback: Value can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed to a different state.

It's like Christmas every day for these kids!


People shouldn't throw out perfectly good children.
 
2010-12-06 11:39:30 AM  
So much of the economy is value destruction. Work all day to get the money to buy something you won't ever use. Most of the military-industrial complex: value destruction. Most of the consumer economy, which is 70% of Merkin activity: value destruction. I could go on, but either you get it or you don't.

Just imagine a world where everyone was adding real value, instead of engaging in useless busy work that is the equivalent of digging holes and filling them back in.

Refusing to engage in the Christmas frenzy would be a good start. Too bad it would collapse the house-of-cards economy we have now.
 
2010-12-06 11:39:40 AM  
Also, has anyone else seen the "Send us your gift cards and we'll send you cash" commercials lately?

How much do people really have sitting on gift cards? I always use them to defray the cost of something I wanted anyways, so I never have anything left on them.
 
2010-12-06 11:41:57 AM  
I had my wife tell her family not to buy us useless stuff just for the sake of having more gifts to give. Hopefully they listen so we can reduce the amount of added clutter/garbage this year.
 
2010-12-06 11:45:56 AM  
No Such Agency: OXFAM Unwrapped

That's brilliant. Thanks. I think my mother is getting a goat.
 
2010-12-06 11:46:56 AM  
There's the destruction of value and the value of destruction.
cache.boston.com

/Hotter than a napalm enema.
 
2010-12-06 11:51:23 AM  
I've never bought Christmas presents for anyone except my kid. I never liked receiving useless gifts just because it was the time you're supposed to give someone useless gifts, and I never saw any reason to inflict it on everyone else. And guess what? The rest of my family doesn't do it now either. it just took them years to work up to "oh well, I guess I won't be buying much this year.....I don't think I'll be getting anything except for the kids.....I don't see the reason to buy a bunch of stuff....." but they did it. They've been weaned from useless gift-giving.
 
2010-12-06 11:51:35 AM  
If The Economist is down on Christmas, I don't even want to hear what Ayn Rand and Breitbart have to say about Santa, since he is an illegal alien that distributes wealth across the globe.
 
2010-12-06 11:53:07 AM  
I'm one of those people that agonizes over gift giving and starting in October I tend to snoop and pay more attention to people to get an idea of what they want. Then on Christmas everyone gets something that they enjoy, things that to this day I know they still use. My mother only ever told me she returned one gift because I just got the color wrong, otherwise perfect.

Then my relatives send me coffee mugs with Eeyore on them because I liked Eeyore when I was a kid even though I don't drink coffee or I get a paperweight with a fairy on it because I liked fantasy stuff when I was a teenager. And I'm talking the relatives with money, here.

I asked for two things this year: steel or cast iron fry pans and a new winter coat. Even though my aunt works for William Sonoma for the sake of having something to do because she doesn't really need the money, I know I'm getting another scented candle from Bath & Body Works. Last year she gave my sister that new Tinker Bell DVD. Her friend's 4 year old daughter though that movie was stupid.
 
2010-12-06 11:56:55 AM  
EighthDay: Sorry, economy, I've got medical bills to pay.

Saddest Fark post EVER.

And this is what Republicans want you peons to be doing: living in slavery to medical bills.

And working in a sweat shop with no safety rules or environmental protections.

Because one day they will live in a gated community that keeps you and your filthy world on the other side of the fence.
 
2010-12-06 12:05:09 PM  
I think gift-giving is a form of signalling -- you are telling people "you are worth so much to me, I'm willing to engage in economically unproductive activity to impress you." Plus, the closer you get to giving what a person wants, the more you show you are thinking of them and are sensitive to what they like.

That's why cash on Valentine's Day is not a good idea. :)
 
2010-12-06 12:06:59 PM  
Dubai Vol: And this is what Republicans want you peons to be doing: living in slavery to medical bills.

Right, because if the government pays for medical care, it won't cost taxpayers a cent.
 
2010-12-06 12:07:16 PM  
Talk about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

The value of gift giving is not in the gift, it's in the giving.

If that's too complicated for economists, than take the difference between the economic value of the gift and the value to the recipient, and instead of calling it "value destruction", mark it down as and "intangible asset"
 
2010-12-06 12:13:18 PM  
Omnivorous: If The Economist is down on Christmas, I don't even want to hear what Ayn Rand and Breitbart have to say about Santa, since he is an illegal alien that distributes wealth across the globe.

Santa is a creator that employees millions (of elves). He can do what he wants with what he creates.

If he wants to give it away, he can.
 
2010-12-06 12:22:24 PM  
"Economic" analyses like this actually are seriously incomplete from an economic standpoint, as they leave out a major part of the social welfare function---namely, the gift-giver's welfare or happiness. Part of the gift-giver's goal in buying a gift is to assure the recipient (or oneself) that the recipient is important enough to them to be worth making the effort of finding a tasteful gift. In a real sense even the gifts bought for others are partly for oneself.

Also, cash is considered rude in part because even if the gift is something the recipient could easily buy, giving cash would have forced the recipient to take the time out to do the buying, a cost in time that reduces the marginal utility of the gift.

Of course devoting resources to gifts the receiver doesn't really want (of zero or negative utility) is a waste, but the same could be said of foolish purchases any time of the year, just for oneself (never mind others). How many people have kitchen appliances bought on an impulse that have been used maybe twice in ten years, or books never read at all?

/economist
 
2010-12-06 12:25:05 PM  
MikeyFuccon: "Economic" analyses like this actually are seriously incomplete from an economic standpoint, as they leave out a major part of the social welfare function---namely, the gift-giver's welfare or happiness.

This was addressed in TFA. See: most of it.
 
2010-12-06 12:25:27 PM  
Englebert Slaptyback: ttintagel

I have only ever received one gift card that I didn't promptly lose and then find again shortly after its expiration date.


FYI - gift cards no longer expire. I think the worst the merchant can do is deduct a small "monthly maintenance fee" or something if you haven't redeemed the card after two years.


Sometimes it's not such a small fee though. Many of the visa cards for example charge a $5 a month fee on top of transaction fees. It can eat through the amount rather quickly. I would much rather get cash or a check
 
2010-12-06 12:42:13 PM  
Personally, I don't think you should buy a gift for someone unless you absolutely know that they'd love it. It's bad enough that people feel compelled to buy gifts for other people out of a sense of obligation or tradition. It's even worse being the recipient of such a gift, and feeling obliged to like it whether or not you actually do.
 
2010-12-06 12:45:50 PM  
Omnivorous: If The Economist is down on Christmas, I don't even want to hear what Ayn Rand and Breitbart have to say about Santa, since he is an illegal alien ROBOT that distributes DESTROYS wealth across the globe.

img208.imageshack.us
You've all been NAUGHTY!
 
2010-12-06 12:49:48 PM  
Fark Me To Tears: Personally, I don't think you should buy a gift for someone unless you absolutely know that they'd love it. It's bad enough that people feel compelled to buy gifts for other people out of a sense of obligation or tradition. It's even worse being the recipient of such a gift, and feeling obliged to like it whether or not you actually do.


That post goes with Steve Buscemi's voice.
 
GOB
2010-12-06 01:02:13 PM  
Which is why the best gift is cold hard cash.
 
2010-12-06 01:07:49 PM  
This year I'm giving homemade cookies as gifts.


It'll be a different kind of value destruction altogether. :)
 
2010-12-06 01:42:58 PM  
I've actually been saying this for years. I think most of us (in my large Italian family) would appreciate not accruing hundreds and hundreds of dollars in debt just to buy everyone stuff they don't want or need.

/I've been a Scrooge since birth
 
2010-12-06 02:14:26 PM  
WindBreaker: Dubai Vol: And this is what Republicans want you peons to be doing: living in slavery to medical bills.

Right, because if the government pays for medical care, it won't cost taxpayers a cent.


I hope you get very sick and lose your job. I hope your child has an expensive condition that your insurance refuses to cover. I hope your mother dies of a preventable disease because her insurance denies treatment. I hope your wife dies a horrible death in your arms because the therapy she needs is not covered by your insurance. I hope you live to experience all these things before you die a slow and painful death because you are denied coverage by your insurance.

Why? Because every day in America, people face those exact situations. Because of people like you.
 
2010-12-06 02:46:33 PM  
Dubai Vol: WindBreaker: Dubai Vol: And this is what Republicans want you peons to be doing: living in slavery to medical bills.

Right, because if the government pays for medical care, it won't cost taxpayers a cent.

I hope you get very sick and lose your job. I hope your child has an expensive condition that your insurance refuses to cover. I hope your mother dies of a preventable disease because her insurance denies treatment. I hope your wife dies a horrible death in your arms because the therapy she needs is not covered by your insurance. I hope you live to experience all these things before you die a slow and painful death because you are denied coverage by your insurance.

Why? Because every day in America, people face those exact situations. Because of people like you.


I hope you contract a veneral disease from sucking Obama's dick.

/this is fun, let's all play
 
2010-12-06 02:50:15 PM  
Dubai Vol: WindBreaker: Dubai Vol: And this is what Republicans want you peons to be doing: living in slavery to medical bills.

Right, because if the government pays for medical care, it won't cost taxpayers a cent.

I hope you get very sick and lose your job. I hope your child has an expensive condition that your insurance refuses to cover. I hope your mother dies of a preventable disease because her insurance denies treatment. I hope your wife dies a horrible death in your arms because the therapy she needs is not covered by your insurance. I hope you live to experience all these things before you die a slow and painful death because you are denied coverage by your insurance.

Why? Because every day in America, people face those exact situations. Because of people like you.


It must really suck to be you. I'm glad.
 
2010-12-06 03:06:55 PM  
Dubai Vol: Because every day in America, people face those exact situations. Because of people like you.

I hope you get very mildly ill of a disease whose cure will be discovered years too late, delayed by people like you.
 
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