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Gift economy

Paul (30 Nov 2005 14:39): So I was in line at a produce-stand-area in the Reading Terminal Market, carrying about $5 of produce, and noticing that there were a lot of people at the produce stands compared with other shops, when suddenly the woman in front of me gives me a $5 produce coupon(!) Apparently the coupons are from "FMNP" and they all expire today. She says it's important all the coupons get used, lest the government stop offering them.
(30 Nov 2005 21:21): Huh. I don't really understand that, in an economical sense. But, that's great. I guess.
m (30 Nov 2005 23:59): Is it immoral to take advantage of someone bad for personal gain? If I know that starbucks gives free drinks to interviewees and I walk in on a hiring day, should I fill out a form and sit down with a manager and a free latte? I certainly wouldn't feel right doing it at a local coffee shop (here you might point out the irony of my being in a starbucks to begin with, but thankfully this is all just hypothetical) but from a big company that I don't really like, it's different. This is standard practice with government appropriations, right? Like, if you're under budget, you sort of burn the rest to make sure that they don't cut your funding for the following year?
Paul (1 Dec 2005 5:24): Well, it may be less than 100% moral. It seems half the government's purpose is to support local farmers by buying their produce, so at least that's accomplished. And the other half of the purpose (feeding the poor) may be doomed to failure as the amount they allow---$20 per person---is not enough to make it worthwhile to seek out the coupons.

As for the topic, I meant to link wiki:Gift economy (although it's more technical and less inspirational than it used to be).
Grant (1 Dec 2005 19:10): Yeah, that is all I've ever heard about government appropriations-type stuff.
It seems absolutely awful, too - worse the more I think about it.
The biggest problem is that responsible spending (here, coming in under budget) is punished (budget cut next year) instead of being rewarded. So, it's completely backwards. They should offer some sort of bonus to organizations which don't spend their whole budget, like funneling a portion of the unused budget into next year's budget.
G (7 Dec 2005 16:58): I know it's way too complicated, but imagine this:
You come in under budget by X dollars on year Y.
On every subsequent year Z, you get X/(2 ^ (Z-Y)) dollars added to your 'standard' budget.

In that way, coming under budget doesn't affect the amount of money you'll receive, asymptotically. And highly theoretically. I think there are a number of clear reasons why this wouldn't work.
G (25 Apr 2013 21:38): "Doesn't have a business plan" is the new "gift economy."
m (16 Dec 2014 14:24): Has the term "sunk costs" ever been more apropos?
R (23 Feb 2015 14:22): Man. I am on pins and needles re: the repair and restarting of the huge drill, cruelly named after a good mayor. Such a fucking waste. Although a nice way of deterring young idealists from engaging in the political process. We could redub the drill "Ozymandias" maybe.
m (27 Feb 2015 7:43): Jesus Christ, it's such a nightmare. Not least of all because of the ugly anticipation for whatever the two shady companies behind STP are going to wind up doing to maximize their payout from the state/city, failure or no.
Paul (5 Mar 2015 4:47): wtf. Maybe I can take comfort in not being in Seattle anymore... Wiki says it demonstrates the Seattle Process but a close read reveals a really bad backroom deal struck in the wake of Seattle Process deadlock.