Scrooged

by Rob Horning

22 December 2005

 

Having experienced the stress of rote gift-giving and having lamented throwing away the well-meant but unwanted junk I’ve accumulated in holiday seasons past, and having gnashed my teeth in previous posts about the current negative savings rate in America, I enjoyed this faintly ironic article by Slate’s Steven E. Landsburg in praise of Scrooge-like miserliness, which he spins as a refusal to destroy or consume the world’s resources. Any dollar earned and saved is like a gift to the world, he claims, because you are not consuming in equal proportion to what you have produced. “Saving is philanthropy, andbecause this is both the Christmas season and the season of tax reformёit’s worth mentioning that the tax system should recognize as much. If there’s a tax deduction for charitable giving, there should be a tax deduction for saving. What you earn and don’t spend is your contribution to the world, and it’s equally a contribution whether you give it away or squirrel it away.” It’s like the invisible hand for gift-giving; you do nothing and think of no one, and yet you give and give to everyone the whole time.

 

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