Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scrooge--The Unsung Hero of the Story

With the Yule season well under way, it is time to revisit a central bit of holiday lore--I'm talking about Charles Dickens' classic story, "A Christmas Carol." I remember as a kid seeing the Mister Magoo version of the story on TV, and not knowing it was not an original Magoo story, thinking: "Boy, Mister Magoo has gotten real deep all of a sudden!" But as enjoyable as the story (and its many adaptations) was, there are some serious problems with it.

First, Ebeneezer Scrooge is portrayed as an incredibly cheap miser who lives in a small, unadorned home despite being incredibly rich. Well boo-freaking-hoo! Who does that hurt, exactly? The diamond rocket pony industry??? I suppose we instead should be praising rap stars and Donald Trump for flaunting their opulent lifestyles and driving up the price of Bentleys. Scrooge is doing the world a favor, by not vastly increasing demand for luxury items. And modesty should be praised--clearly it'd make his neighbors uncomfortable if he flaunted his wealth.

Second, he's apparently a jerk because he doesn't care much for his idiot nephew, who seems to have nothing but time for partying and usual adolescent frivolities. And we discover that his resentment of the kid is due to the fact that Ebeneezer's sister died giving birth to the doofus. Perfectly understandable, even if unfair. So the nephew invites the grumpy uncle to his Xmas party, and the old man refuses--if anything, that's the right thing to do. Surely after years of being spurned by the old man, the nephew was only making this a nonvitation--inviting just to be nice but hoping the invite would be turned down.

Third, Scrooge and his old partner Marley are shown to buy out their old boss, after competing with and ruining the old man who apparently spent all his investment money on Xmas parties. Well, that sucks for the partygoers, but clearly Scrooge and Marley knew how to run a business better, so if they didn't take over then someone else would have. This is just the free market in action, people! Britain couldn't rule the world without good industry.

And finally, Scrooge is supposedly rotten because he pays his assistant, Bob Cratchet, very little and makes him work on Xmas (though he did relent after some mopey guilt-inducement) and is economical with the office coal supplies. But consider this--at no point does anyone seem to point out that Cratchet is a free man. If working conditions under Scrooge are so deplorable, why continue to work for him? London at that time should have been a fountain of opportunity for an educated bookkeeper like Cratchet. Clearly, Scrooge was the best employer he could find. Unless of course Cratchet was incompetent or embezzling money, in which case he should really be ashamed for not using his ill-gotten gains to buy an operation for Tiny Tim.

Tiny Tim, who, by the way, was not sick due to anything Scrooge ever did.

1 comment:

  1. "A Christmas Carol" from the 1% point of view. I like it.