The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Monday, December 19, 2005

Slow News Day?

Six days before Christmas, we get a WOAI commentaryon the rehabilitation of "old conservative" Scrooge:

'Tis the season for rehabilitating old conservatives. Joe McCarthy, we're told, was the prophet of the cold war. Trent Lott says America would have been better off had we listened to the segregationist Strom Thurmond. Heck, even ol' Tricky Dick is getting a fresh coat of whitewash. So in the spirit of the season, I think it's time to rethink the tarnished reputation of the first hard working conservative to be blackened by the Main Stream Media, that hard working entreupeneur, that creator of jobs...Ebbie Scrooge.

I don't know where, outside of Fox News, McCarthy, Thurmond or Nixon are getting kinder, gentler portrayals. But Jim Forsyth goes on, pointing out just how different the rich in Victorian England are from the rich here in America:

The Victorian British, and to a certain extent Europeans today, had a bizarre attitude about wealth. The Duke in the mansion on the hillside, who did nothing to earn his money other than being the product of a lucky sperm, was respected and emulated. But an average person, who acquired wealth through his own hard work, was always the object of suspicion. Was this the emergence of elitism? I somehow think that if when we first meet Scrooge, he would be blackened with soot and dusting himself off from having worked in a factory for 14 hours creating some revolutionary new product, instead of sitting 'in his counting house,' the attitude toward Scrooge and his wealth would have been far different, and how would this have damaged Dickens' effort to paint him as evil?

It's funny,Victorian England called someone "who did nothing to earn his money other than being the product of a lucky sperm", Duke. Today, we call him President.

Of course, it doesn't end there, Forsyth goes on to ponder whether Bill Gates would ever be visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. To argue that Bob Cratchit is better off with his poorly paid job than with no job at all, and that 'back then' poverty was seen as a moral failure.

The last assertion probably has the most amount of truth in it. Nowadays, only fringe Republicans see poverty as moral failure. Of course, Forsyth also fails to do any real work. If he had he'd know that Bill and Melinda Gates had donated $24.2 billion to public health issues in the developing world. And has been one of the dozens of gazillionaires who has unsuccessfully pushed the Bush Administration to roll back the tax cuts they've been receiving. Don't think Marley will be visiting him anytime soon.

Of course the problem most of the world has with Scrooge isn't that he's just plain miserly, he's also a horrible boss. Cratchit is poorly paid and ill-treated. But this is the difference between Forsyth and myself. Of course Cratchit is better off with any job than no job at all. Then again, I'm better off with one arm than with no arms at all. But that doesn't make either situation desirable. People feel sympathy for Cratchit and Tiny Tim because Scrooge is loathe to give raises (do you see his house on every television special ever written? it's not as if he's barely covering expenses), time off for the Christmas holidays- which raises another point entirely, why is Forsyth standing up for a non-Christian?- or show any compassion for his fellow man.

At the end of the day, the human race expects a bare minimum of kindness from each other- especially if he's their boss and most importantly during the Christmas holidays. The fact that Scrooge exhibits none of this until he is shown his future is an indictment on the man who Forsyth holds up as a captain of business (and therefore to be respected and revered), and not more liberal clap-trap from the 'world's first socialist.'