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Yes, it is that time of the year again, Season’s Greetings! Do you know the golden rule of present giving at Xmas? It is an undeniable truth that showering your love and generosity upon others can make you feel mighty good. The power of giving is often sold short in our economically obsessed world view. Economists don’t like ‘giving’ as a concept, it must be said, they find it simply uneconomical. It does not fit in with their strict interpretation of how markets and the world works. Neoliberalism would choke into its empty trickle down effect vessel if too much giving went on in the economy.

Adam Smith statue, High Street
Adam Smith statue, High Street by kim traynor is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Economics & The Shunning Of Giving

This is why we only allow gift giving at strictly controlled times like Christmas. Nobody in charge of the economy would like to see things like generosity and altruism get out of hand. No, self-interest and blatant greed are emphasised in the understanding of how our economy and market forces operate. They tell us that the father of economics was Adam Smith. A Scottish philosopher and with Adam as a first name – who else could it have been! Scots are infamous for their penny pinching ways – I mean they also claim to have invented golf.

“Smith’s notion of an invisible hand that guides someone seeking to maximize his or her own well-being to provide the best overall result for society as a whole is one of the most compelling notions in the social sciences. Smith and other early economic thinkers such as David Hume gave birth to the field at the onset of the Industrial Revolution.”

women s white collared long sleeved shirt
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Indeed, the golden rule of present giving at Xmas fits in with our economically infatuated world view today. One of the main reasons why giving at Xmas is so powerful is that we hardly ever do it for the other 364 days of the year. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all. Thinking about others is not what modern human beings do too often. Of course, parents, in the most part, remain devoted to their children. Parenting is one long sacrificial act, when you really think about it. They say even hostages learn to love their captors eventually. Devotion to a cause or another human being of your blood can become a labour of love. Economics, on the other hand, is all about self-interest and where that leads us in a business sense. The market place is where we humans get down and dirty in the doing of business with each other.

Circle, Xmas (1907) Joseph Christian
Circle, Xmas (1907) Joseph Christian by Library of Congress is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

What Is this Golden Rule?

Quite simply, it is, for every present graciously and generously given to another, you must choose one for yourself. This keeps the economy ticking over in the direction it is established to favour. This self-interest drives our economic wellbeing for the good of the nation and the world. Therefore, according to the golden rule of gift giving at Xmas you must lovingly choose something extra special for yourself. Adam Smith will thank you. Keynes will acknowledge your input. Perhaps, even, Hayek will grant a nod. What will you select for yourself this Christmas that will make you really happy to receive? Choose well, my friend!

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom. 

©MidasWord

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