Let the market decide: Top-Selling Christmas Gifts Since 1983

Let the market decide: Top-Selling Christmas Gifts Since 1983, by Jeffrey Tucker.

Let the market decide.

Those four words are among the most revolutionary in the history of humankind.

To let the market decide means deferring to the results even if we personally wish something else would happen. At first the market might look like a series of signs and indicators on a scoreboard. But behind the numbers and balance sheets lie human values, indicators on the map that people use to navigate their way out of the state of nature. …

No one can anticipate what wins and what loses. The results defy every predictive mind, and remind us constantly of the absence of omniscience in this world. Those four words, then, represent a repudiation of dictatorship, authoritarianism, despotism, and every form of imposition against the people and their wishes. They suggest a confidence in a process shaped by people and their decisions are a better guide than even the smartest people armed with all the powers of the state. They suggest a deference to something outside our direct control but within the micro-control of everyone else: not just people we know but billions of people we do not know.

There is a persistent criticism out there that somehow this market is devoid of sentiment, virtue, and even morality. This is not true, and you only need to look at the holiday season to see it. The holiest of seasons also happens to be associated with the height of commercial exchange. This is not an accident. Commerce means people giving to others and receiving more in return. It means serving each other in peace and with love.

The toys that are scarce at Christmas:

iys that are hardest to buy before Christmas

It’s absolutely exhilarating to watch the market in action, especially when you take the long view, such as going back to 1983. At first it seems crazy and random. Why did anyone care about “Cabbage Patch Kids” or “Barney” the dinosaur or “Tickle Me Elmo?” It’s all so silly, right? Maybe not. All these products fed the human imagination and enticed people to imagine worlds that could be. They are symbols of the wackiest, most wonderful, most unpredictable aspects of the human personality.

None would have been chosen by any would-be central planner, whether on the campaign trail or from the office of some empowered bureaucracy. They could have only emanated from this beautiful, imaginative, productive, and empowering sector we call the market. For all its mysteries and surprises, we can’t help but be inspired at its capacity to discover values within us that no intellectual planner, dictator, or know-it-all bureaucrat could ever know.


hat-tip Matthew