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November 18, 2009



Indeed. It pays I think that barter is not dead, and that a feeling of well being, or of status is currently the item most obtained by barter.

Tom P

"When we get some revolting jumper our response is not “why did you get me this crap?” but a smile and a thank you. As a result, bad gift givers don’t get the feedback that would cause them to improve their performance."

I dunno about that. In my wife's family at xmas you are positively encouraged to say if you don't like the gifts in order that you can take them back to the shop and get a refund. The 'feedback' makes the present-buying experience even less enjoyable though....


Tom P has it in his last sentence: "the present giving experience". Presents convey value to the giver as well as the receiver. I may hate that rubbish Christmas jumper, but the little thank-you letter my mum made me send to Auntie was worth to her more than the money she paid for the jumper (or wool/time put into it more likely).


This book isn't an example of "instrumental rationality" so much as it is an example of limited thought. "Instrumental rationality" can include many other benefits from gift giving that this book ignores. Parents may not want to give the gifts that their children want the most. Possibly the parents value making the kids better people so they give books or something else that will help the kid be a better person. This book would claim that is a deadweight loss because it only looks at how much these kids would pay for the present that the parent gave them. Arguing against Christmas gifts is one thing, but providing a dumb argument that doesn't deal with the logical responses is a waste of people's time. This is a really dumb book.

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