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This is a proposal for a holiday.

I'm provisionally calling it "Cheerful Harberger Day" for lack of a better idea of what to call it.

Imagine that once a year, perhaps on February 12th, or July 27th, you have invited your friends over for a special evening. In preparation for this evening, you walk around your house with a pad of sticky notes and label many things you see laying around with a dollar value.

This value is a cheerful price for parting with the item. Notably, the cheerful price is not a "fair" price, or a market clearing price, or a price you're willing to repeatedly transact at. Your Cheerful Price is a fact about you and your feelings.[1]

Unlike a harberger tax assessment, writing the price does not commit you to selling if anyone offers you that much. You can decline for any reason. If someone makes an offer in the ballpark of the listed cheerful price, though, you have to not hold asking against them. The cheerful price was supposed to be a trade that you would be happy to make!

Somewhere on the premises, you probably posted a bounty list--a paper or whiteboard with a priced list of items/information you would pay to acquire, tasks you would pay to see done.[2] [3]

A few items have a negative price, as in you would pay someone to take it off of your hands, or it's "free to a good home". Maybe you might wrote a rental/borrowing price as well on some of your tools and seasonal ware. Maybe you also wrote a services list of tasks you would do for money.

Your friends come over. They share their own bounty lists over dinner, show you a few pictures of stuff they sticky-noted on their phone. Conversations start up around points of interest or surprise or solving-the-optimal-allocation-problem. You all learn a lot about what each other value.


DM for invitations to my house. I'm definitely doing this :)

Can you do Cheerful Harberger at your house? Post in the comments about it; I'd love to come. Or reserve a time block for me to come in my calendar here if you're in the East bay in Cali, USA.

Feel free to write happy bounties in the comments, or link to some photo albums of sticky-noted stuff.


“And hoarding is the ultimate evil to the person who understands and values money. You do not need more than you need. Going out of your way to own more than you need is an outright affront to everyone around you. Money should not be gathering dust in a vault, nor should any of the things it can buy. Money wants to be used, to be appreciated—money wants to work. The job of money is to be out there in the world, paying people for their labor, providing resources to everyone. Money is the lifeblood of economies, sustaining societies, nations, civilizations. And what, my young friends, is the nature of blood?”

“It must flow,” all three of them chorused obediently, Gabriel spraying crumbs in the process.

“IT MUST FLOW!” Verniselle bellowed

- The Gods Are Bastards

  1. ^

    I strongly recommend reading the cheerful price article.

  2. ^

  3. ^


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"Anyways.  The reasons I wouldn't expect that particular attack angle to work on me if I thought anything more careful than a pure snap decision is, second of all, that I'm explicitly aware of contrasts between easily commensurable quantities and how those can distort my cognition by calling attention to themselves.  First, that I'm constantly putting a quantity on how much I want things.  In Civilization I could easily have translated that quantity to unskilled-labor-hours or, more usual for myself, the minutes or hours of my time that I'd spend to get something - including by working to buy it, if it was something that could be bought directly with money."

"The fact that I don't actually have a bank account full of unskilled-labor-hours, anymore, and instead have a completely unfamiliar currency called 'gold pieces', is contributing to a constant state of disorientation in the back of my mind.  I'll seem less timid and hesitant once I actually know how much everything around me costs and this core process of all of my cognition is able to actually run again."

written by Yudkowsky in Mad Investor Chaos

Minor point:

I suggest people experiment with holiday ideas and report back, before we announce anything "official". Experimentation seems really nice on this topic, that seems like the first step.

In theory we could have a list of holiday ideas, and people randomly choose a few of them, try them out, then report back.

This... is that experiment?