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Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Six: Closet Shopping

The clock is ticking and the stores are empty. If you haven’t purchased your gifts, you might be feeling the pressure. Don’t worry, there’s an option here that will allow you to get rid of some stuff you’re not using and help the economy at the same time.

Go closet shopping.

Everyone has stuff. Most people have too much stuff. That stuff has value, but not enough value to be used everyday. But there is probably someone, somewhere, who would value that stuff in your closet enough to use it. So release your stuff. Dig deep down into the depths of darkness, in your closet, under you bed, in the garage, the attic. Wherever you put your surplus stuff. And wrap up the stuff and give it away.

Notice I’m not talking about regifting. Because this isn’t regifting. This is stuff you bought for yourself and didn’t use. Not that there’s anything wrong with regifting. Regifting works under the same principle, and it’s not shameful.

See, it’s basic economics. That stuff in your closet represents resources. Resources you don’t value enough to use. If you give those resources away as gifts, and in turn it gets regifted, eventually those resources will find people who will value them more than you. Those resources will re-enter the economy and assist in the creation of goods and services. Thus increasing GDP.

The more you closet shop, the more you regift, the less Christmas Deadweightloss.

It’s time for real hope and change. And less clutter.

Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Five: The Fourth Amendment

If you wish to travel as a US citizen inside the country on an airplane, the government feels it is necessary to treat you like a terrorist, pat you down, feel you up or take pictures of your genitals. Big Sis says this is necessary because the terrorists are terrifying. Then again, all crime is a little terrifying, that doesn’t mean we sacrifice the right to be secure in our persons. This right is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

And I, for one, suggest to those traveling or buying Christmas gifts for travelers to pick up a little reminder that we haven’t forgotten about that pesky Constitution:

There are plenty of options, from t-shirts to boxers, panties and bras, even kids clothes. The undergarments are printed in a metallic ink that will show up on backscatter machines quite clearly.

It’s the perfect gift for the regular air traveler this year.

Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Four: Survival

Imagine, you’re sleeping soundly. Then someone pounds on the door. “Nuclear Meltdown!” the person yells. You get up. You look outside to see emergency vehicles screaming towards the nuclear reactor. Within minutes, you’re about to get engulfed in radioactive particles. If you ingest these particles, you know your risks for developing cancer, or even dying from an overdose, go up dramatically.

But thankfully, you have your bra. You, and your significant other, are going to be fine:

Nothing says sexy more than survival.

It’s all Darwin people, I didn’t make it up.

Now is the time to prepare for the next Chernobyl, the next Three Mile Island, the next theatre fire or gas leak. It’s time to prepare for the worst and look your best. Ladies, buy the Emergency Bra for yourselves this year. And guys, know you too might be saving your life by giving this gift to every woman you know. It’s the perfect Christmas Gift for the whole family.

Christmas Gift Guide

Volume Three: Books

Print is dead.

All information is now held in bytes, in computers. This information is accesible instantly from any mobile electronic device that has access to the Internet. Want to know how the political affiliations of Generals Scott and Taylor impacted the way peace was negotiated with Santa Anna at the end of the Mexican-American War? Wikipedia. Google. You’ll have your answer in thirty seconds, then you can make fun of people who actually read books like Grant’s Memoirs instead of texting innuendo to Facebook Friends.

The age of books is past. There’s no reason to buy them, read them, or write them. No man is ignorant anymore. All men are ignorant. They just don’t know it.

So why does a book make a great impact gift?

Need I say more? Get it, and others, here.

Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Two: The Beauty of Smoking

Smoking is back. No more patches. No more self-help books. No more missing out on your nicotine all-day in the office. No more lung cancer.* Modern technology has saved an ancient treat. Cigarettes are back!

The e-cig can be used anywhere (right now, anyway, the nannystaters are coming). On a plane, in a restaurant, in your car with your kids, at work, inside, outside. Anywhere. welcome to freedom, or what we used to call “The 1950’s.”

This product is great for everyone. Smokers who want to quit. Smokers who want to cut back. Ex-smokers. Heck, even non-smokers can now enjoy what it feels like to be cool without all that annoying emphysema.

And, if you’re worried about becoming addicted to nicotine, there are nicotine-free options! You can’t lose.

Hey, you’re not going to live forever. It’s time to light up. And buy a pack or two for your friends.

*Maybe, I’ve seen at least one study that shows nicotine might be a contributing factor to throat and mouth cancer, but the relationship was extremely small.

Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Keynes on Saving and Investment.

Image via Wikipedia

Volume One: The Gift of Nothing

How many gifts have you received that spend one glorious day out of the box, then disappear into a closest somewhere? lost forever in the murky shadows of our previous life? Somewhere, next to that guitar you never learned to play, by the shoes that only go with one dress that hasn’t fit since 2003*, next to your old baseball mitt and those pictures you keep meaning to put on Facebook, back behind your Nintendo 64, there, there is where so many gifts hide in possession purgatory.

Go digging around the closets and crawl spaces in you home, find these items and think of the waste. Now multiply it by the population of the country. This will give you some perspective on the size of the problem. Economist Joel Waldfogel calls it the “deadweight loss of Christmas.” All sorts of resources that have alternative uses are wasted in our pathetic pursuit of Gift Giving. Imagine Man at the dawn of civilization, were they giving unwanted gifts to each other too? Probably not.

So my recommendation this year is to give nothing. And thank those who give you nothing in return. Unchain yourself from the consumerism that has dominated American life and destroyed the economy. Really, gift giving is just as silly as people giving each other wads of cash (The Wad, of course, being the best gift option). Gift giving is Keynesian Economics, by pushing stuff from person to person we somehow think we will all become wealthy.

This idea is not original to me. Besides Waldfogel there is Captain Capitalism. The lesson is clear, friends don’t buy friends gifts.

Most people are bad at buying gifts, just admit it.

And if you can’t, if you refuse to listen to reason, read through my archives for some gift giving advice and check in here over the coming weeks as I publish the rest of my annual Christmas Gift Guide.

*Going out on a limb here, but I assume I have at least one female reader.

Christmas Gift Guide 2009

Your Vote

Depending on the year, somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of federal officeholders are reelected. Sometimes it can be as high as 98%. So, let’s not go crazy with the “every vote counts, people died for your vote” nonsense. It’s just one vote, in one race, that is probably going to be a landslide anyway. Like me, I’ve seen one, maybe two competitive races in my area in my life. Races where every vote really counted. They’re rare.

So, go ahead and offer your vote, in one race in one year, to someone looking for double enfranchisement. What could go wrong? (Other than the fact this might be really, really illegal). It shows just how much you trust them and their judgment. (Or how really cynical you are about one of the rarest opportunities in human history).

(*photo source)