Ebenezer Scrooge, Humanitarian

373px-Scrooges_third_visitor-John_Leech,1843Everyone loves (or loves to hate) these two articles about Ebenezer Scrooge’s many great economic services to humanity.

Butler Shaffer writes in “The Case for Ebenezer“:

As I became older, I decided that Mr. Dickens had given Ebeneezer Scrooge an undeserved reputation for villainy, placing him in such company as Uriah Heep, Iago, Dr. Moriarty, or Snidely Whiplash, to name but a few. It is my purpose, in making this holiday defense of my client, to present to you a different interpretation of the story, that you will see the villainy not in my client’s character, but in Charles Dickens’s miscasting of the true heroes of the time of which he wrote, namely, the industrialists and financiers who created that most liberating epoch in human history: the Industrial Revolution.

Says Michael Levin in ”Scrooge Defended“:

At the same time, Scrooge is not given to brooding and shows absolutely no sign of depression or conflict. Whether he wished to or not, Dickens has made Scrooge by far the most intelligent character in his fable, and Dickens credits his creation with having nothing “fancy” about him. So we conclude that, in his undemonstrative way, Scrooge is productive and satisfied with his lot, which is to say happy.

And it turns out Scrooge is just one of a whole species of unfairly maligned good folks known as misers. Here’s Walter Block’s “Defending the Miser“:

The miser has never recovered from Charles Dickens’s attack on him in A Christmas Carol. Although the miser had been sternly criticized before Dickens, the depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge has become definitive and has passed into the folklore of our time. Indeed, the attitude pervades even in freshman economics textbooks. There the miser is roundly condemned and blamed for unemployment, changes in the business cycle, and economic depressions and recessions.

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