Scrooge a Modern Tale

Ebenezer Scrooge is considered a nasty man who has hatred for humanity.  Yes, there is a modern aspect to Scrooge personality that is close to the modern life many live today.  The man lived a spartan life even at his home. He kept his own office cold and used minimal coal to keep the office warm and refused to add more coal when his employee Bob Cratchit asked if he could add any more.

Dickens describes his home, ““It was a low fire, indeed nothing on just a bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it and brood over it before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from just a handful of fuel. The fireplace was s an old one built by some Dutch merchant long ago and paved all around with quaint Dutch tiles designed to illustrate the Scriptures.”   Just like many of our modern individuals who are forever telling you to keep your temperature low

Scrooge believed in the theory of excess population and as recent Human Progress article by managing editor Chelsea Follett showed that many still hold these views. She noted, “In 2019, for example, U.S. Senators, like Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Representatives, like Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Susie Lee (D-NV), tweeted their support for a paper explicitly calling for the reduction of the world’s population. Also this year, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questioned whether it is morally acceptable to have children and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) endorsed population control. This past summer, in the country where A Christmas Carol is set, Prince Harry subtly suggested that children are a burden to the planet and that responsible folks should have “two, maximum.” This follows Scrooge own view, “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

A Christmas Carol is a rejection of that thought. The Ghost of Christmas present sits on a throne of overflowing food and his torch is shaped like “Plenty Horn” As Ms. Follett observed, “The Ghost claims he has “more than eighteen hundred” brothers, representing previous Christmases (again, the book came out in the year 1843). Upon hearing that, Scrooge’s mind, in true Malthusian fashion, immediately turns to scarcity. “A tremendous family to provide for!” mutters Scrooge. The Ghost then whisks Scrooge to a marketplace to show him this scene of Smithian abundance: There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts … There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions … There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers’ benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks … there were piles of filberts … there were Norfolk Biffins [a kind of apple] setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons … There were gold and silver, fish, set forth among these choice fruits in a bowl.” Contrary to the Malthusian view of population, Great Britain was beginning an industrial revolution that would allow this planet the ability to raise billions worldwide out of poverty.

When Scrooge inquired about whether the family’s ill child, Tiny Tim, will survive, the Ghost of Christmas Present taunts Scrooge by repeating Scrooge’s words back at him: “What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge then begins to feel shame at having questioned the worth of “surplus” human beings.

Dickens optimism was based on the good nature of humans and Scrooge redemption was part of that optimism as he moved from a selfish life that business was a zero-sum game with winners and losers but never thought of expanding the economic opportunity toward a more charitable life in which he uses his wealth to expand his business beginning with his worker Bob Crachett whose salary was raised and added to his community through donation.  His view in the beginning of the book, he would ask “are there no workhouses?”  Scrooge viewed his obligation to the poor over after he paid his taxes. We live in a modern world in which many in government today prefer government solutions and a smaller charitable sector along with a smaller private sector under the whims of government edict.

As part of Scrooge redemption, he rejected the idea that his obligation to the poor ends with his taxes but instead he must be more involved as he becomes with Tiny Tim. As Charles Dickens concluded his book, “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all and infinitely more and to Tiny Tim, he did not, he was a second father. He became as good a friend as good as master, and as good man as the good city ever know… it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any possessed the knowledge.”

Consider the optimism of Dickens, Scrooge believed in humanity and lost his bitterness to humanity. He used more coal (you know fossil fuels) to keep his office warmer and he delivers on his pledge to charity as he admits that there are some back payments due. The modern scrooges want us to be poorer, colder, and less of us. They dream of a day of a less populated planet that will be poorer. Scrooge, through the help of three spirits, rejects the modern-day Malthusians.  Redemption of his soul led to a more optimist Scrooge.

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