Mental Exercise and the Devil’s Advocate

Looking at that title, I really wish I could make a post worthy of it!

That said, this will have to do, I suppose.

There are enough geeks on this blog that I can hope someone else read the old defense of The Empire from Star Wars, written long before the new movies came out; it can be summed up as “great, they killed the Emperor. Hello, power vacuum– who’s going to pay the police now? Who’s going to be in charge, the Hutts?”

In keeping with the season, I offer this from NRO:
Scrooge: The First 1 Percenter.

A sample:

Either way, such actions are not really going to do much to improve the human condition. I contend that Scrooge, before he became “enlightened,” was already doing more to help his fellow man than any of the other main characters we meet in A Christmas Carol. Moreover, by giving away a substantial portion of his accumulated fortune, he drastically reduced his ability to do even more good in the world.
Scrooge was a “man of business” and evidently a shrewd and successful one. Although Dickens fails to tell us exactly what line of business Scrooge is in, a typical 19th-century “man of business” could be expected to involve himself in many endeavors — what investment advisers today refer to as diversifying one’s risk. One can infer from A Christmas Carol that Scrooge was a financier, who lent money to both businesses and individuals. He also spent long hours at the Exchange, probably speculating on commodities, buying and selling government debt, and purchasing and selling shares in various joint stock companies.

We can also infer some things about Scrooge that Dickens does not tell us directly. He left boarding school early, supposedly because his father had a change of heart toward him and wanted him home. A lack of finances may also have had something to do with it, as Scrooge’s formal education ended early and he was apprenticed as a low-level clerk to a tradesman — Mr. Fezziwig. From this low start, Scrooge exhibited a relentless drive that eventually made him rich. Along the way, his business had to survive the Napoleonic Wars, adapt to the Industrial Revolution, and fight its way through several severe economic depressions. In fact, in the year A Christmas Carol was written (1843), Britain was just coming out of a five-year economic slowdown in which only the most nimble and carefully managed enterprises survived. During Scrooge’s business life, upwards of 100 businesses failed for every one that succeeded. Scrooge must have been a very good businessman indeed.

In a nutshell, he argues that it’s a bad thing in the long run that Scrooge ended his prior ways and turned to being generous; I don’t know if I’ve ever even read the actual story, but I recall that almost everyone tells me the Muppet Christmas Carol is accurate, and I could built a refutation of the article from that; when I originally read the Star Wars one, I couldn’t– I just knew it was somehow wrong.

I already cheated and read the comments, but would anyone like to build a counter-argument here? (I do suggest reading the comments… at least, the ones that I saw so far….)

This could be a good conversation starter around the Christmas table– hopefully a safe one, too, if you keep it light!

3 Responses to Mental Exercise and the Devil’s Advocate

  • For bonus conversation points, you can print out the “yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter and debate that.

    It beats nagging about Obama.

  • If we do good for the wrong reasons it is of no help to us. Scrooge, whatever good he accomplished to society by being a successful businessman, had walled himself off from his fellow man. His interactions with his fellows tended to consist solely in whether Scrooge could profit from it monetarily. Scrooge was miserable as a result, and his interactions tended to make other people miserable. Bob Cratchet was not entirely mistaken when he proclaimed the unreformed Scrooge as “the founder of the feast” on Christmas Day, since the business acumen of Scrooge provided his livelihood and Cratchet understood it, but the reaction of his family to the propsed toast underscores how the spirit in which we do something often will determine how others react to it. The unreformed Scrooge reminds me of this passage from Saint Paul:

    “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

    The unreformed Scrooge understands this. When he and the ghost of Christmas Past visit a Christmas party tossed by Fezziwig, an old employer of Scrooge, and the ghost notes how Fezziwig’s employees love him and yet the party isn’t costing Fezziwig that much money. Scrooge responds: “He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil…The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.” It is the lack of love that makes Scrooge a miser, and having love that made Fezziwig a beloved boss.

  • The worst poverty is not pecuniary. It is our national destitution of human virtues: fortitude, justice, prudence, temperance.

    Voting to tax someone else and indirectly giving the money to the perpetually (“. . . will always be with you”) poor through unionized bureaucrats is not one of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Then, they use the votes of desperate dependents (their destructive policies create) to obtain political power (mass brigandage) and then advance mass evils: abortion/murder; class hatred/envy/wrath; fornication/lust; gay privileges/lust; graft/greed; tyranny/envy/greed/wrath; . . .

    Scrooge is a fictional character. Lying, liberals (I repeat myself, again) are today’s real-life evil do-gooders.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .