Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We'll even ruin your Halloween 

This is the sort of thing that gets us a bad name. Tyler Cowen correctly points out that we probably have the right structure to giving.
[I]n-kind transfers are often more efficient than cash gifts, and that holds for public policy as well. (Imagine giving "money to buy kidney dialysis," instead of "kidney dialysis," and see how many people fake kidney disease.) The candy transfer insures that a) mostly young kids do the asking, and b) at some point everyone just stops and goes home.
Now we have a rule in our house not to buy candy until 10/31, because there is a high degree of fluctuation in visitors depending on weather. (Currently about 50 and breezy.) I did not create this rule; Mrs. S did (though I think it's just keeping candy out of the house due to her own lack of willpower.) But I wonder now -- if our time is more valuable, why don't we give large, low-value items? Heavier bags cut down the travel of the trick-or-treaters. The loss of fruit as a treat for Halloween has made bags lighter. If Cowen's logic is correct about why candy over cash, why not press the advantage further by giving candy in heavy wrapping?

Someone brought candy into our office today, though we are closed before any trick-or-treaters would come. Why would they do that?