The gift giving season which is Christmas is just around the corner, and once again billions of dollars are going to waste:
bq. in general, people spend a lot more on presents than they’re worth to those who receive them, a phenomenon called “the deadweight loss of Christmas.” A deadweight loss is created when you spend eighty dollars to give me a sweater that I would spend only sixty-five dollars to buy myself.
The full paper “The deadweight loss of Christmas”:http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/freakonomics/pdf/WaldfogelDeadweightLossXmas.pdf – is a short, and interesting read.
While economists estimate that up to a third of the value of gifts exchanged at Christmas is lost, as the receivers value the gifts lower than what the giver bought them for, Bakra Eid is a bit like Christmas where everyone buys and receives the same gift – meat!
While there are other, non-economic benefits to the production and giving of the traditional Bakra Eid gifts, as an economic activity Bakra Eid is more akin to the Titanic, with all the hard work and effort required to save up a 100 billion rupees wrecked, with a few hardy survivors gobbling down their gifts, and the vast majority seeing all their hard earned cash slaughtered, with a few choice pieces of meat left at the end.
Bakra feeding and slaughter lends itself to economies of scale, so besides the estimated 100 billion rupee direct cost of Bakra Eid, there is also the extra cost of the vast inefficiency introduced into the Pakistani slaughter system, where instead of slaughtering the millions of animals at slaughter houses, they’re first trucked around the country, than extra feed is trucked once again after them – and much of that feed is wasted – as the once a year bakra killers tend to over estimate the feed requirements of their soon to be dead bakra.
The slaughter operation itself is wasteful, despite the protestations of would be skilled killers of animals, many of whom are not as skilled as they delude themselves to be. The economic loss aside of the meat spoiled because of bad skills, there is the further issue of “animal cruelty”:http://pakistaniat.com/2008/12/07/kick-cow-amazing/ – leaving aside the fact that killing animals is bad enough, what about the extra suffering the animals endure, which could be avoided with better techniques? Ironically, the reason for which these animals are killed, Islam, itself prohibits needless cruelty to animals.
The economic lost suffered due to the 3 days of pre-slaughter, slaughter, and distribution of slaughter is staggering, with vast labour inefficiencies, as the whole country screeches to a halt.
Update: Some TV channel estimated the cost of the 2010 eid to be a hair over $3 billion US dollars, with 7.5 million animals slaughered…