Libertarian paternalists have high hopes of discovering your true preferences but your friends and family are hopeless at judging a decent present. That present is often a simple choice between products rather than the much more complicated intertemporal choices that libertarian paternal seek to nudge.
Yes, I fully realize I’m a bit of a killjoy, posting a review about a book called Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays.
And yes, I fully realize the irony that a good many Eleventh Stack readers might very well be out doing the exact thing that economist Joel Waldfogel cautions against, instead of reading my brilliant review of this intriguing book.
To that I say, bah humbug. Because really, it is high time that someone tells it like it is in regards to holiday gift giving. It isn’t a secret that every year we spend way too much on gifts people don’t want, don’t need and would never buy for themselves.
Walk through a major department store in December. The aisles are blocked not just with panicked shoppers but also with tables covered with “gift items.” In the aisles near the men’s clothing department, you’ll…
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