Scrooganomics Running Rampant

Along with fruit cake and caroling, one of the many traditions to look forward to in December is the annual “War on Christmas,” in which religious and conservative activists and pundits accuse secularists and innocent fans of the phrase “Happy Holidays” of stripping Christianity from the occasion. But this year, seasonal skirmishes have broken out on new fronts. In these new fights, it’s not that the holiday is sliding down a slippery slope away from the manger. Instead, it’s that Christmas is bad for the economy, bad for your health and bad for the environment:

The War on Christmas Gifts 

While those reindeer sweaters and charming dress socks you put under the tree are good for the retail business, Joel Waldfogel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, has been spending recent weeks railing against Christmas gift-giving, arguing that it’s an inefficient way to spend money that costs the country $25 billion a year.

In his book, “Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays,” Waldfogel says gifts generate less satisfaction than things we buy ourselves. We don’t really know what other people want, he says, but we do know what we want. Because of this, in his view, Christmas shopping is “an orgy of wealth destruction” as we spend on things people don’t value as much as the money we pay for them.

One writer called Christmas shopping “an orgy of wealth destruction.”

“I’m not against spending, just sloppy spending,” Waldfogel said on NPR’s

In one experiment, Waldfogel asked his students to rate the level of satisfaction they had with gifts they were given. From this survey, he determined that gifts generate an average of 20 percent less satisfaction than things we buy for ourselves. He says this is not true of gifts we buy for our closest family members and friends, who we know well enough to gift accurately.

The theory behind this should not be surprising to economists who know well that consumers are best equipped to make decisions about purchasing for themselves.

“That’s frankly the basis of many economists’ disdain for government. Because after all, when government chooses for us, they get us the wrong health care program, the wrong color shirt, the bridge to nowhere. And so this notion that we’re best situated to choose for ourselves is a pretty basic notion and fairly a common-sense one,” Waldfogel said.

While the theory may bear up to microeconomic scrutiny, others say Waldfogel is missing the point altogether: Giving gifts is good for society.

“Like other forms of sharing, giving gifts cements social bonds,” Aditya Chakrabortty wrote in The Guardian. “Such ties barely exist in Waldfogel’s world of consumer-onanism — where shoppers ideally please only themselves — but that isn’t the world the rest of us live in.”

The War on Santa’s Gut

Last week, Australian public health expert Dr. Nathan Grills of Monash University was called a “killjoy” and a “scrooge” in the media for an article he wrote suggesting Santa Claus was promoting bad health habits. The article, called “Santa Claus: A public health pariah?” was published at bmj.com, a British medical journal, and suggested that Santa was sending the wrong message with his obesity, drunk sleigh-driving, speeding and generally bad lifestyle choices.

Grills also said Santa could easily become a vehicle for spreading disease because he allows so many children to sit on his lap. Factor in all the sugary products he helps sell, he added, and the man in red is clearly not pushing a healthy agenda.

But as the media jumped on the story, Grills said the article was a spoof he wrote in his spare time. He rigorously defended his love of Santa and said people had misunderstood what was meant to be tongue in cheek.

“We need to reclaim Christmas for the beauty of giving and loving. It is definitely not about alcohol companies and Coca-Cola exploiting Santa’s selling power! Santa has never accepted the job as chief sales consultant for a tobacco company,” Grills wrote in an e-mail to Sphere. “I believe in the true meaning of Santa. The true Santa, St. Nicholas, was a very generous man who gave of all his wealth to bless others who were in need.”

The War on Your Neighbor’s Light Display

As Christmas trees went up and light displays started flashing around the world, some people cringed at the thought of the electricity required to light the season. One environmental group, the Energy Justice Network, is providing tickets on their Web site for people to hand out to egregious offenders of Christmas light waste.

“Global warming is threatening Santa’s workshop, and the elves are worried about having to work in galoshes because of the ice melting,” the group says on its Web site.

Many of these light detractors suggest swapping out traditional Christmas lights with LED (light-emitting diodes) strings, which can be 90 percent more efficient. LED lights are used in the five miles of lights on Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree and in the 32,256 lights in the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square.

While using LED lights may be a step in the right direction, some point out that many of those lights still end up on carbon-eating trees that have been mercilessly chopped down.

“Nothing marks you out as an eco Scrooge quicker than protesting about non-essential festive lighting,” Lucy Siegle writes in The Observer. “So I refuse to condemn a few tree lights, although there’s a lot of truth in the idea that the only really green tree is the one with its roots still in the ground,”

Courtesy of AOL

A THOUGHT: I say “Bah Humbug” to all the Haters!

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About Chase Morgan
Chase Morgan is just your average, ordinary All-American writer. Chase began writing several years ago, but never published anything until the "Are You Friggen' Kidding Me?" blog launched in August of 2009. Chase simply got tired of standing around and just observing all of the craziness in the world, so this anxious writer sat down and wrote the first "Are YOu Friggen' Kidding Me?" article on August 19th, 2009. Now, any time something makes Chase say, "Are You Friggen' Kidding Me?", the issue get's transformed into an article. Chase is currently single, homeless and living under a bridge in South Florida.

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