Friday, December 24, 2010

Scrooge Reconsidered

When scrunching up your face at Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas (I'll assume you're saving yourself for the George C. Scott version), have a second thought about ES's position. Consider that he is the major revenue source (TAXES) for what social services do exist in his gloomy, fog laden town. The charity collectors who solicit donations from Scrooge famously reference these institutions in horror:

Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.
Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?
Collector: Plenty of prisons.
Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?
Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.
Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.
Collector: I don't think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.
Ebenezer: Why?
Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for?
Ebenezer: Huh! Nothing!
Collector: You wish to be anonymous?
Ebenezer: I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there.

Though his contributions are involuntary, thanks to taxes Scrooge has contributed far more to the poor than his cadre of naysayers. Does anyone acknowledge this, much less thank him? No. They deride him for not being a bigger cash cow. No wonder Marley's better half is so grumpy.

Where do his critics think the money for public services comes from? It comes from workaholics like Ebenezer, not cheery well-wishers. But of course!

If men like Scrooge didn't chase every shilling, there would be even less taxable lucre for the already blighted social services from which the charity collectors recoil. Good thing ES's raison d'être is creating wealth!

Scrooge's real miscue is his brusque demeanor. Picture how much differently he'd be viewed if instead of "Bah humbug" he said "Teach a man to fish." His image would replace Reagan on the bibs of Republican lobotomees everywhere.

Worth noting too that in spite of the taxation of moneyhounds like Scrooge, the public provisions for the poor remain terrible. As the charity collectors seem to indicate, private donations are the only way to truly provide comfort and assistance to those in need. Goes to show that even then, the welfare state didn't work.

As Bob Cratchit might say, "To Mr. Scrooge!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Typically Austrian School, to completely not-get even the tale A Christmas Carol, that the spirit of the holiday is not about material things like money and industriousness but rather about human relationships and the sense of togetherness, of making time for the people we care about and sharing with them. this is a concept imperceivable, by the evidence, to those who see the world only in stacks of gold.