Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scrooge - Malicious, Ill-tempered Miser or Financial Genius?

In the winter of 1843 Charles Dickens published his classic "A Christmas Carol". From that moment on, Scrooge became synonymous with all things ungenerous - the Anti-Santa, if you will. In fact, right now try to think of Scrooge without envisioning two starving, ragged street urchins desperately holding out their hands, their upturned, pitiful faces smudged with random soot, their hair speckled with unidentifiable granules. You can't, can you? And what does that tall, white-haired guy do when he passes them in your vision? He not only refuses to give money, her does so in an unnecessarily huffish way!

Well I'm here to tell you that Scrooge, like so many in our cultural lexicon, has been vastly and grossly misunderstood. A miser? A Pinch-fist? Ha! How many late-night commercials have you seen offering some padded financial plan? How many articles in the in-flight magazine about how to save a penny for the holidays? Yet here we are, judging poor Mr. Scrooge while we feverishly type away at our 401ks and yell at the kids to turn off the lights. If Scrooge was around today, he would be the number one adviser on Wall street, probably with his own infomercial! Thats right, his face would be on every billboard, glaring down on you with his crazed, white hair, inspiring the masses to save for the future while wincing in horror.

And what of his innovative theories on child-labor? We dismiss them - the ridiculous ravings of on old man. Well Mr. "Happy-Childhood-For-All", let me ask you this - what is your kid doing RIGHT NOW? Playing video games while his plump butt slowly expands from hot-pockets. Maybe a little time in front of a churning, steel-toothed coal grinder is exactly what our kids need. They could learn reflexes and dexterity as they frantically dodge the steam wheels of the 100 yard linen looms. They could acquire social skills as they plot and fight for that last scrap of bread in the tyrant-run food line. And why spend money on summer camp when they could be having fun bunking down with 100 other shivering children, their hammocks swaying in a line just like a fun-filled marine base.

And what's the big deal about telling Mr. Crachit to save coal in the stove? Isn't he just being environmentally responsible? I say a hunched, wrapped, coughing Crachit is worth saving the planet from fossil fuel emissions. If you think about it, Crachit was such a nice guy he probably would have wanted it that way. God bless us, everyone - except for the ENVIRONMENT?

So I say to you, oh spent Christmas shoppers, your pockets now empty from the fruit bowls and bad ties - judge not poor Mr. Scrooge. Our country has become obsessed with consumerism and spending, and seemed to have forgot the frugal lessons of our forefathers. We have come to believe that the more money you spend, the better the gift. We have equated commercialism with generosity, while forgetting that the best gifts come from the heart. Our ancestors knew this, and knew that simplicity was knowing how to give AND save. So as you sit back this winter, your wallets empty, your house littered with useless trinkets, give the old boy a nod - maybe being a bit of a Scrooge is exactly what we need!


Mike said...

I agree completely. Scrooge has been unfairly condemned by our culture.

I was disappointed when Scrooge turned into a whining, puling wet noodle at the end of A Christmas Carol. He should have held his own against the Ghosts, explaining to each the merits of his economic philosophy (and most likely convincing them!).

It would have been far more compelling if Scrooge had stayed the same, refusing to give in to the taunting ghosts, and finally, in the very last paragraph, dropped a couple hundred pounds into a church offering plate. It would have sent a positive message: don't give in to your schizophrenia and delusions; stay firm in your beliefs and don't be railroaded into being generous. Don't believe in ghosts. Look around your and see the real ghosts: the suffering, the mentally ill, the elderly who have been abandoned.

These are the real ghosts of both Christmas past AND present.

Jarod said...

Exactly, Mike. Who are the ghosts to presume to convert him like a band of unwanted Jehovah's witnesses? And whats with the chains, anyway?