Christmas is Bad for the Economy

I have maintained for years that Christmas was bad. Never mind the fact that the so-called “Christmas Story” a.k.a. “The Greatest Story Ever Sold” is a complete fabrication. Santa is a lie too, but you can still enjoy the story. I guess the difference is that everybody over the age of 5 knows that Santa is fake. Most adults are still under the God Delusion (hey, that would make a great title for a book!).

At least 20 years ago, I determined that Christmas was bad for people, the environment, and the economy. I’ve been saying that ever since, and people just call me Scrooge or the Grinch. That has nothing to do with it. If you people weren’t so afraid to look in the mouths of your sacred cows every once in a while, you’d be better off.

Christmas is bad for people, because stress levels go up in almost everyone. It’s bad for the environment, because of all of the useless crap that people give each other that just ends up on a shelf and finally in a landfill. It’s bad for the economy, because it perpetuates the consumption model of economics. You can’t spend your way into prosperity.

That last point is a biggie. Most economists seem to believe that consumption is the only way you can have an economy. That way leads to depletion of resources. What the hell do you think we’re going to eat in 30 years, once we’ve depleted the oceans? Forget about the environment. Be selfish and think about yourself for once. What are you going to eat?

I contend that we could easily come up with an economic model based on sustainable consumption. The current system is not it.

Finally! An Economist Who Agrees with Me!

I was thrilled to come across a recent article in The New Republic that completely vindicates me. It’s written by some guy named James S. Henry. TNR calls him an economist. Over on Amazon, he’s called an “economic journalist”. Whatever. He seems to have at least some credibility.

There is something weird about this article, though. I think it’s about 20 years old. He talks about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters. Nevertheless, he raises some good points, all of which back up everything I’ve been saying all this time.

Go on over to The New Republic and read the article. If that link doesn’t work, use this one, but you’ll have to register (it’s free). To whet your appetite, here’s one of his opening paragraphs:

Although for many years Christmas has been justified on the grounds that it is “merry,” rigorous quantitative analysis establishes that the opposite is the case. Despite claims advanced by proponents that the holiday promotes a desirable “spirit,” makes people “jolly,” etc., the data show that the yuletide time period is marked by environmental degradation, hazardous products and travel, and—perhaps most important—inefficient uses of key resources. The holiday is an insidious and overlooked factor in America’s dwindling savings rates, slack worth ethic, and high crime rates. Nor does Christmas truly fulfill its purported distributional objective: the transfer of gifts to those who need them. Moreover, the number of people rendered “joyous” by Christmas is probably equaled or excelled by the number made to feel rather blue. In short, as shown below, although Christmas is an important religious observance that provides wintertime fun for children (who would probably be having fun anyway), it fails the test of cost-effectiveness.

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