I applaud the online magazine Slate for its recurring series on “the dismal science,” as they call it. Don’t get me wrong, I just about always disagree with the columns. Even so, the articles get me thinking, and that’s what’s important. So the reader must understand that it is in this festive, jovial spirit that I proceed to devastate a recent Slate article, “The Sovereign versus the Idiot.” It is a stocking stuffed full of fallacies and plenty a non sequitur for all the family to enjoy.
The author wants to discuss whether it is “efficient” to give presents, rather than allowing individuals to make their own purchases. To that end, he conducted numerous surveys and asked people to guess how much others spent on presents, versus how much the recipients would have to be paid to give up the gift. The idea is to compare the price of the gift with its value to the recipient.
There are so many problems with this it’s hard to know where to begin. FULL ARTICLE