Wednesday, December 23, 2009
With his millions of listeners, I'd imagine that an author could do a lot worse than having his book mentioned on Rush Limbaugh's radio program. Normally, with that sort of exposure, you'd think that having Rush talk about you're trying to market would be a proverbial goldmine.
I don't think that will be the case with economist Joel Waldfogel's book - "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays.”
It's not that Waldfogel doesn't have any points worth considering. Waldfogel said,
“People value the items they receive as gifts 20 percent less per dollar spent than the items they purchase for themselves. These are items that are not well-suited for their tastes.”
Of course, that's true enough. It isn't easy buying gifts for someone you barely know. More than likely, the present you give won't be as well received as you'd like. It's difficult gauging someone's taste when that person isn't a close friend or relative.
The answer, however isn't becoming a "Scrooge" and abandoning Christmas gift giving. No, the obvious solution would be trying to get to know better the person you're giving the gift to.
Waldfogel tries to rationalize his positions with economic "theory". He claims that our giving gifts that aren't fully appreciated creates an "orgy of value destruction that vaporizes $25 billion per year,” From an economic standpoint, that's complete BS.
There's no question that most retailer's live or die based on Christmas sales. Jobs and profits depend on the spending that the Holiday creates. From an economic view, it matters not whether the person receiving the gift enjoys it or not. The store will make money off that blue and green polka-dotted tie you gave Uncle Louie; it doesn't matter whether Uncle Louie wears it, puts in away in the closet, or sets it aside to be used on his garden's scarecrow this coming spring.
No, Waldfogel can't destroy Christmas gift giving with his bizarre economic ideas;
And even though Amazon.com assures me that the book can be delivered in time for Christmas, Waldfogel's book will not be on my list of things to give as Christmas gifts. So, in that respect, I guess Waldfogel gets his Christmas wish.