We went to see a production of “A Christmas Carol” this weekend. It was pretty good, the guy who played Scrooge was quite enjoyable and added a little bit of insanity into the role at the end. Previously, my main exposure to the story came from the Disney version with Scrooge McDuck.
As I was watching, it struck me at how relevant the underlying story is in the current climate. A rich man forsakes everything in his life, friends and family, to become rich purely for the sake of it. He cares nothing for others and feels their being poor is entirely their own fault. He prefers the Randian pursuit of everyone for themselves. If it doesn’t make money, it’s not worth notice.
It’s also interesting that despite this being a “Christmas” carol, the religious overtones are minimal. All of the characters, except Scrooge, are excited about Christmas because it’s a day of fun and being with family. For not wanting to give Cratchit the day off, Scrooge is accused of being a miserable old miser, not for waging a War on Christmas.
Despite the prevalence of this story in our culture, it’s amazing how many people are very much like Scrooge. Read the following quote and replace “Scrooge” with any of the GOP candidates. Aside from the antiquated references to early 19th century British institutions, does anything feel like something they wouldn’t say?
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that.”
“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”
My prediction, Ebenezer Scrooge will be the next GOP front-runner.