When is a gift not a gift

Recently I gave Andrew money as a gift. He used part of that money to buy a tattoo to celebrate his 40th birthday. Mister, if you’re reading this, do not worry, it’s not a post about my views on tattoos. It’s actually a question for everyone – when is a gift not a gift?

I ask this because I’ve found the reaction to the ‘debate’ between Andrew and I over his recent choice interesting. There’s a camp of people who say: ‘if you give someone money, it’s a gift and they are free to do with it whatever they wish. If you attach strings to it, then it’s not a gift.’

I’m interested by this viewpoint. I wonder whether there’s any circumstances under which these people would waiver in that view.

What if it were used to:

  • fund a hunting trip?
  • for gambling?
  • for drugs? cigarettes? [insert harmful substance here]
  • fund missionary efforts?
  • support training terrorists?
  • something else?

 

 

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Posted on March 13, 2012, in Life. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It is too late for coherent thought, and I doubt if there is a single ‘right’ answer, but it is a very good question.

  2. The ‘no strings’ crowd is a little silly – if I give you money for college and you spend it on cocaine, that’s not a good thing. And it is still a gift, since I don’t expect repayment except in the abstract sense of you getting an education.

    If you just give money without intent and then it gets spent in a way you don’t like then you don’t have as good a case. You really ought to feel exactly the same as if he had spent his own money that way. After all, you could ‘launder’ it so the actual bills spent on the thing did not come from the gift bucket, but some other bucket.

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