Father Christmas, Give Us Some Money


The New Republic reprints one of my favorite Jonathan Chait columns, in which he argues that Christmas gifts are economically irrational. As is often the case when someone applies economic reasoning to exchanges outside the cash nexus, I'm not entirely sure which parts are earnest and which parts are parody.

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  1. Half a column. Thanks Mr. Scrooge.

  2. Nice Kinks reference there, Jesse.

  3. …exchanges outside the cash nexus…

    Why is it so flipping important that we not give cash as gifts? I mean that. Thanks to gift cards, we’re so-o-o-o close I can almost taste it, but that last step is such a downer to everybody.

    “Look, it’s really simple. I care about you, but I don’t know you. I have absolutely no idea what your interests and tastes are. If it weren’t for holidays, I’d probably never see you in the flesh. Here’s fifty bucks. Buy something nice for yourself, and have a Merry Christmas, Mom.”

  4. My bank is pushing gift cards that bear the VISA logo that can be used wherever that card is honored. They’re like those pre-loaded debit cards some folks use. I don’t know if you could actually turn them into folding money, but you could buy diapers and groceries with them at any market near my house, so they’re awful close to giving cash.

    TT: didn’t Pa Cratchet ever teach you about BugMeNot? 🙂


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