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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/2881/post-christmas-tree-tip/

Post-Christmas Tree Tip

December 24, 2004 by

When you throw out the Christmas this year, leave the lights on it and let the garbage people haul the whole mess away. Everyone knows that taking off the lights is the most frustrating part of taking the tree down. They get tangled, stepped on, and cause tree needles to spread. The old lights won’t shine as bright next year in any case, and you will be spared the frustration that comes with untangling and repairs.

But wait. Isn’t this wasteful? Well, the term waste has no meaning apart from the price system, and I just picked up 100 feet of lights for $2 at the local drug store. Surely the time and frustration saved from wrestling with tree lights is worth $2. And next year when you put the lights on, you can put them on any which way, knowing full well that you will never have to take them off.

Like the tree itself, it’s long past time we thought of these lights as disposable items, along the lines of paper towels and foil pie pans. Your neighbors might be shocked at first, but just tell them to join you in obedience to the magnificent price system and in praise of free trade and free enterprise that brought us disposable tree lights.

{ 10 comments }

Tracy Saboe December 24, 2004 at 12:07 pm

Or, you could, like me, buy LED strings, and cut the Christmas excess of your Electricity bill by 90% Of course, they’re about 10 times as expensive, but considering my electric bill last year, last Christmas, I think it’s probably worth it in the longer run.

Tracy

Larry Sechrest December 24, 2004 at 12:38 pm

Yes, we probably spend more on wrapping paper (another disposable) than on tree lights. Ain’t capitalism grand!

David White December 24, 2004 at 1:38 pm

No, waste has no meaning apart from the price system. However, your assumption is that the tree is simply thrown away (“landfilled”) instead of mulched along with other yard wastes (as is done where I live) and thus put to “beneficial reuse” by the community. No, I don’t know what it costs to mulch a Christmas tree, but it’s gotta be a lot less than hauling it twenty miles and paying a tipping fee. So suffice it to say that I’m happy to take a few minutes of my incredibly precious time so that I can reuse my lights again next year.

Of course, if “bads” (virgin materials, waste, pollution, etc.) were taxed instead of “goods” (labor, investment income, corporate income, etc.), we’d create far more wealth with far less waste.

And artificial (i.e., reusable) Christmas trees would likely put an end to “real” ones.

Stephan Kinsella December 24, 2004 at 2:31 pm

Jeff, I’ve been doing that for years. All the neighbors think I’m nuts to leave a Christmas tree out for disposal full of lights. I guess they just don’t value their time. Until we bought a pre-lit artificial monster about 3 years ago, that is.

David Heinrich December 24, 2004 at 3:28 pm

Better yet, just get an artificial tree, and decorate it once. Then move it in the basement when done and bring it back up next year.

Steven Kane December 24, 2004 at 10:40 pm

Next Christmas I think I am going to set up a completely digital Christmas tree. I will put a series of flat panel LCDs on the wall and connect them up to my computer where I will have a completely digital and animated tree loaded up. The ornaments and lights will change throughout the day, and snow flakes will fall around the “tree.” Santa and his reindeer will be seen off in the distance flying over houses in the background.

Tracy Saboe December 26, 2004 at 11:44 am

The fact is, we have socialized goverbage disposal here, so for the most part, we don’t know, if the extra costs of desposing the lights is cheeper, then not taking them down and saving them. We don’t have the pricing information to know that.

We just got one of those fiber optic trees for the tree itself. They use less electricity then a string of lights do, and you can save the tree.

Tracy

Ben December 27, 2004 at 12:15 pm

I recently read Human Action and was impressed by von Mises interpretation of social/economic history.

Although he doesn’t mention it, I’m sure he’d see the environment as a (scarce and precious) factor of production and agree that some regulation of production/consumption is necessary in order to protect it. I believe it’s one of the few (perhaps the only one) aspect of free market that needs to be controlled by an illuminated authority.

In this sense, Xmas lights might be free for all I’m concerned – but their production, together with most other products, certainly takes away an unknown amount from the finite environmental framework necessary for our survival on the planet.

Ben

P.S. I don’t believe in democracy in the current, “everybody can vote” incarnation. I believe sensible eligibility requirements for voters (I’d go for a quick IQ test) would literally change the course of history.

Horatio December 27, 2004 at 3:07 pm

To each his own, but I would be tempted to just keep the lights. I’m no crazy environmentalist but growing up poor has taught me to avoid waste.

As for private sanitation services
I’ve been saying this for years. Everytime I come back home to see my garbage can in the middle of the road and garbage on my driveway that they dropped, I curse the government for monopolizing this business.

chris September 4, 2006 at 1:28 am

A simple list on why Artificial Christmas Trees are better than real christmas trees.

  • Artificial Christmas trees last longer than real trees.
  • Artificial Christmas trees are safer than real trees because they are not a fire hazard.
  • Studies show that plastic artificial Christmas trees are thrown out after ten years.
  • There is no hassle in buying artificial Christmas trees because they are found in many shops around Christmas.
  • Artificial Christmas trees can be decorated with tinsel or foliage coloured tinsel.
  • Artificial Christmas trees are generally inexpensive, because they are made out of cheap inexpensive materials whereas many cheaper live trees are of poor quality as well as they deteriorate quickly. Shop around to find a tree that you like within your price limit!
  • Artificial Christmas trees don’t litter the floor with pine needles like real trees do.
  • Artificial Christmas trees don’t bother you if you don’t like the smell of pine or have allergies.
  • If you happen to like the smell of pine you can buy a special pine spray for your artificial Christmas trees.
  • Artificial Christmas trees can’t rot like real trees can.
  • Artificial Christmas trees are easy to assemble and easy to store away.
  • Artificial Christmas trees don’t weigh much.

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