Economics Be Happy!—Why this is the best holiday season ever.


We're going through some tough economic times right now, but this holiday season, take a moment to appreciate how good we really have it.

Need proof? Just think about how much Christmas presents sucked in the 1970s compared to today.

Thanks to our market-based system, we're wealthier, we have more choices, and we enjoy more leisure time than ever before.

From all of us at, happy holidays!

Produced by Paul Feine and Hawk Jensen. Hosted by Nick Gillespie.

Approximately 1.45 minutes.

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  1. Try buying a toy gun for your boys.

    Easy in the 70’s, near impossible now.

    I’ll grant you that buying a toy sword is easier now, but that isn’t progress.

    Never bring a toy sword to a toy gun fight.

    I should admit that when I was 10, I was given my own 20 ga. shotgun and a license to kill any rabbits or gophers I could find on our farm.

    1. When I was in 4th grade the principal asked for my pocket knife when someone noticed I had it and he gave it back to me at the end of the day. In 2009, I would have been expelled and arrested. I’d be in Bellevue now, probably for denying I had no intention of using it against other students or teachers.

      1. When I was in 4th grade, the principal asked for my pocket knife when he needed to cut a knot out of a shoelace.

        He thanked me. I’m old.

        1. They wore shoes during during the stone age?

    2. You err. A toy sword is a weapon, of sorts. A toy gun is all pretend: “Bang, you’re dead. Hey, you’re dead! Stop hitting me with that sword!”

      1. In a pinch you could pistol-whip someone with the toy gun.

        We played “guns” with sticks, so they could really be bludgeoning / whipping instruments as well.

    3. You can still but toy guns (unless the CPSIA has shut down that avenue of fun too). They just have that crappy orange thing at the muzzle so it looks more fake.

  2. our market-based system

    Not for long, bitches!

  3. I am not certain that we are happier now than in the 70’s.

    And yes, in spite of price controls and various other 70’s era regulations we were freer in many ways.

    I would trade.

    1. Oh, and another thing, all that crap that we simple HAVE TO HAVE today costs us a fortune. In the 70’s a single breadwinner family was possible and could keep up with the Jones. That 3-channel TV was free unlike the choices of today. Phone service was significantly subsidized via business customers to the point of being almost free, and health care was way, way cheaper.

      1. You can still get your crappy network TV for nothing if you so desire. You can do without many of the modern gadgets that infest my home. If you don’t, that’s an indictment on you, not the rest of us.

        1. That’s what I do. I get two channels on TV, have no internet at home and no cell phone. You don’t need all of this shit.

          1. Zeb, Bet you don’t have kids.

            1. Well I’ve got high-speed internet at home, no TV (just a big-screen monitor since my family and I ignored that whole analogue-to-digital changeover) and all the beloved video games of my childhood and adolescence that I could ever have wanted to play available to me online along with all the emulators I’ll probably ever need to play them.

              I’ve got no cell phone and I want none. I’ve got one of those little MP5 gadgets with all the bells and whistles and I rarely use it. I’ve also got an awesome PC I bought for less than $100 from a government auction which runs at 3 Gigahertz and has loads of space to store all the aforementioned games of my youth, along with hours and hours of my favorite digital videos.

              I’m flat broke, but materially speaking I’ve got it made.

      2. Really? The crappy tv cost a fortune in today’s dollars and was always on the blink. And I can remember not being allowed to call long distance until a certain hour on certain days because long distance was so expensive and almost all the relatives, even 25 miles away, were toll calls.

        1. Party lines were a pain.

        2. Most of my phone calls still cost $4.95 for the first minutes and $1.99 for each minute thereafter.

      3. I think all the lead in your toys as a kid are causing you to hallucinate.

        As much fun as I had as a kid, there are times I am super envious of my kids.

        Playgrounds at McD’s? God that would have been cool? Water parks everywhere? I would have killed for that.

        Being able to watch movies when/where you want instead of having to wait until 1980 for Star Wars to make it to the backwater theater in your home town? Fantastic.

        1. Me? I love the 21st Century. Thanks to technological innovation, I can watch football (rugby, soccer, Aussie Rules, Gaelic) year round. You couldn’t do that 5 years ago. That ans 24 hour access to music, food recipes, HOWTO’s… I’d never want to go back

          I think Louis CK explains it well

  4. Just think how sucky today’s presents will seem in thirty years.

    1. “Well y’see, kids, back when we had electricity, the stuff on my screen looked sort of like this and you used the keyboard and mouse to make it do this.”

      “Aw, Dad, that sucks! Why didn’t you have any real gifts?”

      “Whaddya mean, real gifts? Those gifts were plenty real! Video games were awesome! I could play them for days at a time.”

      “You mean you used to sit there and look at this stupid thing for days at a time?

      “Hell yeah! Stupid kids… You got no idea how bad you got it!”

    2. Try 7 years…

  5. I see someone took their new Death Knight to Western Plaguelands, which is just dumb, you’re 58, go straight to Outland and start grinding there.

    1. He could have been leveling up his mining, herbalism or skinning before going through the portal.

    2. dude, that’s totally the eastern plaguelands…

  6. Just think about how much Christmas presents sucked in the 1970s compared to today.

    Christmas was capitalized on this tube? Progress!

  7. Back then we had no need for all the baubles and fooferaw we have today. Back in the 70s we were still allowed to play outside. A bike. a BB gun and a basketball was all that was necessary.

    1. Allowed to play outside? I dunno about anybody else, but half the time I was ordered out of the house so I wouldn’t wreck the joint and destroy my parents’ tenuous grasp on reality.

      1. “Allowed” to play outside? I was ordered to play outside, just like T. “You’re reading too much. Get your ass outside and don’t come back until it gets dark.” I’d then proceed to get lost in the woods for a few hours and count the ticks I got on me when I got back. Deer ticks not included, of course (god damn they are hard to spot), but there was no Lyme Disease back then.

        1. I was outside quite a bit. My parents were of the What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger school.

          1. mom “Stop going in and out. You’re gonna wear out the door. Drink from the hose. I don’t need more dishes to wash.” The only rules I remember were don’t play outside in school clothes and if you play with snakes, don’t tell me about it and you damn sure better not bring any home.

          2. My friends and I used to run around in the dark with toy guns raiding other friends’ houses and being a general nuisance. We didn’t partake in any big time vandalism or crimes so the cops were generally friendly. Now a days I would fear for my son’s life if he did what I did, not because I did dangerous things, but because cops would should him for having something that looked a bit like a weapon. I blame the war on drugs and the militarization of America’s police forces.

            Of course we do have cooler gadgets and this internet thingy now.

        2. Also ordered from the house to play.

    2. Play outside? That’s illegal!


  8. …and toys are soooooooooooo much safer now.

  9. I remember when we were outside without adult supervision, at age 3. Damn sexual predators ruin everything. Of course instead of keeping them locked up, they just get put on lists. Need room in the prisons for those potheads.

    1. Sexual predators are bogeymen. The vast majority of sex crimes against children are within family/friends circle. The risks of some creep leaping out of the bushes is so remote it’s laughable.

      Subject came up at a recent party. Bunch of 30-40 somethings, most with kids. Pedophiles being the greatest danger to their lives I asked if any of them personally knew anyone whose child had been assaulted by a stranger and if any of them had been as children. Not a one.

      There are a few, granted, and they make the news for weeks at a time. But out of a population of 350,000,000 a handful of cases is very small.

      Your child is more likely to die of the flu than be assaulted by a stranger.

  10. Parents were trusted to assemble their childrens bicycles. Sometimes children assembled thier own.

    Plus there was an entire sub-industy of toys dedicated to space exploration.

    1. Major Matt Mason!

      1. I owned most of the Major Matt Mason set. So cool.

        1. I loved the lunar rover that moved on fixed spokes. I’m still mad NASA never pursued that design.

          Those wires popping through the accordian elbow joint was a bit of a design flaw, though.

          I also liked Men From Space and Zoids. My bedroom floor was a multi-denominational moonbase.

      2. Coolest toy I had as a kid, even after my dog ate a few pieces of the space station a few days after Christmas.

        1. I was insanely thrilled when I got the moon buggy and other accessories to go with Major Matt and friends one Christmas. I even got one of the aliens. So awesome. Of course, manned space travel was actually a going concern, then. I got that right after the Apollo 12 landing, I think.

          1. It will again be a going concern, but private this time!

    2. We used to build go-carts and race down the street. There was this hill and you could get up some serious speed (or at least it seemed so…) If a car came along you simply steered towards the nearest lawn and crashed. And NO HELMETS. What you think we were sissies?

      Great times!

  11. I doubt that those leisure/work trend lines are sustainable.

    Thought experiment – what happens if they reverse course and cross again?

  12. Thanks to our market-based system, we’re wealthier, we have more choices, and we enjoy more leisure time than ever before.

    And our climate is a lot warmer too!

    1. Definitely an improvement. Back in the 1970s, they were telling us a new ice age was upon us and we were all going to freeze to death. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t old enough to remember any of that decade.

  13. Yup, that was the decade the prezident told us all to wear cardigans.

    1. It was also the decade (late 60s to mid 70s, anyway) that young people stood up to the Establishment and got rid of the military draft. All the Gen-Y dweebs sitting around getting calluses on their thumbs with today’s collection of Soma toys ought to think about what a gift that was, and is, to them. Sometimes it pays to get out of the house and live real life.

  14. Oh, I remember it. And I will resist attempts to revive it. Especially the economics of it.

  15. The 70s were only slightly more tacky than the 80s.

  16. I’m Australian. In the 1970s, an average house cost four times the average annual salary. Now it’s eight times. At the same time the tax burden has doubled.

    I think your post is nonsense.

    1. Thank God. Had to get down this far too finally see a post with some sense. C’mon people – they give you some toys and you forget about all of the liberties you have had taken away and the Ponzi scheme that is our current currency and economic system?

      I’m all for decompressing and to keep a positive attitude during the holidays but this is the dumbest article on this website I have ever seen. Change the name from Reason to Easily Distracted. Hope this is a one time fluff piece trying to be funny.

    2. I agree. This the dumbest thing I have heard in quite some time.

      1. I agree also. You have to be in a coma not to understand what Leviathan and the Federal Reserve have done to this country and its currency. Typical Mid Stream Media site.

  17. Look at Justin Raimondo’s reaction to ReasonTV’s Panglossian drivel at, December 18, 2009.

    1. No thanks. Dimnuts Ripped Moron has always been an idiot and always will be.

      1. Raimondo’s one of the smartest and most principled libertarians around, and he’s right about Gillespie’s Pollyannish, inside-the-Beltway take on modern life. Like the chart showing our vast and growing leisure time in retirement – not gonna happen, fellow Boomers, unless you work for the Federal govt or its bailed out corporate harlots.

  18. I used to love videogames when I was a kid, and through college. They were awesome. I’d spend months obsessively beating Diablo II. Then I got a real job. Started skiing, sailing, biking, going out with my girlfriend. Can’t bring myself to play videogames now. Numb to the whole thing. Then I realised it, videogames are a cheap substitute for the real thing. No amount of video game magic can beat the actual experience of flying down a mountain at 50 miles per hour, cold wind in your face. Or sailing through six foot waves with your boat heeled 45 degrees. Or driving a high performance german car through a twisting mountain road. I’m not telling you all this to be a tool. I’m telling you this because I’ve realized that videogames are the soma of A brave New World. A cheap, mass produced, universally accessible thrill, that keeps the masses placated and passive. Sure, we have awesome videogames now, but the average age sailboat owners was I think in the 30’s in the 60s, and now it’s in the 60s. So as expensive reality based entertainment has gotten out of reach of more and more people, videogames, tv, movies, and other plebeian diversions have grown. This means it’s getting worse not better. If things were getting better, we’d have single income households were the man worked a 30 hour week, they had 2 awesome cars, and hired a babysitter for a week while they jetted off to Paris for a romantic anniversary. What we have now is two income households were both parents work so much they need a TV and playstation to babysit the kids. So all this we’ve never had it so good stuff is myopic crap

  19. This guy is a complete and utter dumb ass. Most Americans would not agree with his view.

  20. Take away the toys and people work far more hours today for less than peasants did in the Dark Ages.

    1. Ok, that makes no goddamn sense. We work vastly less for WAY more than peasants did in the Dark Ages. I *don’t* think things are “getting better” right now… But that’s just retarded.

  21. More leisure time? I need a job at!! The 80’s was the golden age to work as a software developer!!

  22. The only reason I watched this is because I followed the link from Justin Raimondo’s article that criticizes this video. I don’t ever go to Reason’s website because they are a bunch of lightweight, beltway libertarians.

  23. Infinite suck regression theorem == today sucks even more than the future will.

    Enjoy your sucky holiday, dorks!

  24. There is this little book I would recommend called Brave New World. Maybe the Reason guys should check that out.

    1. Better yet, pick up a copy of End the Fed.

  25. What a douchebag. Why not just say things are great because now we have Soma?

  26. video games? Market-based system?!?! Do you even live in America. Since when is a duopoly of internet providers open? Sure, loosing my job gave me all of this free ‘leisure’ time to watch tv, play video-games and worry that I’m about to loose my home.


  27. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on

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