Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Season for Giving

I give all credit to this post to Professor Larry Iannocconne from GMU. Although, I had never had a class from him; listening to podcasts, his debate with Professor Caplan(GMU), and other sources helped me to understand the reason for giving gifts.

We spoke before upon the issue that gifts are not efficient. If you don't remember you can find it here. Now it is true that it is inefficient because we do not have perfect information; but what is it about the winter holiday season that gives it a name like "The Season for Giving"?

We have one season, one season for as individuals in a capitalistic society to break off time in order to help others. Why is that? Shouldn't we do it year round? And the thought of not giving presents on birthdays and holidays had simply left some with a foul taste in their mouths. Is it because they wished to receive gifts, or perhaps, the pure enjoyment of giving? It is actually more than selfish reasons of wanting to receive or give.

We give gifts in order to show others we care. It is inefficient upon the lens of individuals, but as a community, as a family. It unites the individuals to not look only upon themselves, but to others in hope of being something more. Some families do not need to give gifts because there is no need as they are already so close, but then there are those who live distant from one another, who once a year get a moment to unite and show that they care. The gifts are shared not necessarily to make yourself feel good or make someone else feel good, but to bring everyone closer, to build the community/family. We are social beings after all...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Giving gifts is outsoucing this "closeness" to corporate america. If we really wanted to help others, we would actually HELP them (repair something, help them build something, offer care for them, etc) rather than buy something and funnel more money into the bottomless corporate pit.

Maybe by not buying them gifts, we can save what money we have so that, when things get truly dire, we can actually HELP them.

Melissa said...

"Maybe by not buying them gifts, we can save what money we have so that, when things get truly dire, we can actually HELP them."

But then the marketing majors wouldn't have JOBS, anonymous-who-is-not-really-anonymous. Ian's right, it is kind of like voting in that people know that there are more efficient ways to spend money/time/make a difference, but they get utility from giving gifts. Rational irrationality, to borrow a phrase from Prof. Caplan.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if marketing majors have jobs, named-person-who-is-really-anonymous-,-at-least-to-me-anyway

Idunois said...

Anonymous,
The difference between our arguments is very distinct. Your argument ends with an increase of income to corporations. Certainly the corporations will gain from consumer spending, but you are overlooking the simplicity of the market. The corporation is built on laborers who will also be spending. The corporation itself will spend money on advertising, having more employees for this rush season of shopping. The argument of corporate greed is an incomplete argument since the shopping during this season increases employment allowing transitional workers like college students have jobs.

I did not say that this was the season to help, although we can speak about that as well, but the season of giving. The point of this post is that we give in order to unite us socially; not to be efficient in helping others.

Think of it in a simple way. By giving gifts now, by getting into a routine of giving something you are building yourself an ability to give. To give not just gifts, but any assistance that will be able to help society.

Anonymous said...

It might amuse you guys to know that on a psychological "empathy test", I scored absurdly low. Maybe that's why gift-giving annoys me.