Scrooge the Libertarian

As I reflected about yesterday's post, Libertarians and the Poor, I kept thinking about Ebenezer Scrooge, that character from Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol". Here are a few of his Libertarian thoughts about the poor. This first exchange is with a man asking to donate to a fund that would help the poor:
First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.
Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?
First Collector: Plenty of prisons.
Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?
First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.
Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.
Interesting how Scrooge felt that prisons and workhouses were a good place to care for the poor in his community. I think that this is not so subtle attitude of some Libertarians. This conversation with his dead partner, Jacob Marley, speaks to where Scrooge's heart is:
Ebenezer: But it was only that you were an honest man of business!
Jacob Marley: BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!
From the grave Marley speaks to Scrooge's obligations to others. When I think about that I remember Cain's response to God after he murdered his brother: "Am I my brother's keeper?" The answer was yes then and I think that it still is. Here is the view that Scrooge had about getting off for holidays:
Ebenezer: I suppose you'll be wanting the whole day tomorrow.
Bob Cratchit: If quite convenient, sir.
Ebenezer: Every Christmas you say the same thing. And every Christmas it's just as inconvenient as the Christmas before. Good night.
Maybe this is the attitude that employers would have if it were not for unions? Possibly we would all be working six or seven day work weeks? Amazing how Scrooge begrudged Cratchit a day off with his family. Possibly these passages tell us why:
Spirit of Christmas Past: And as your business prospered, Ebenezer Scrooge, a golden idol took possession of your heart, as Alice said it would.

Ebenezer Scrooge: What reason have you got to be merry? You're poor enough.
Fred: What reason have you got to be miserable? You're rich enough.
Ebenezer Scrooge: There is no such thing as rich enough; only poor enough.
Maybe that is a picture of where many corporations have gone - after the golden idol at the cost of their loyal Bob Cratchit employees. Maybe our modern day Scrooge CEOs also believe that, for themselves anyway, "There is no such thing as rich enough"?

I do hope that one day Libertarian type folks learn the lessons that Dickens' story did and one day with say with Scrooge:
I will start anew. I will make amends and I will make quite certain that the story ends on a note of hope on a strong amen and I'll thank the world and remember when was able to begin again!
Now before you get too mad at me.. especially if you have Libertarian leanings.. remember that the point I am trying to make is that we have an obligation to love our neighbors and care for those who are not as fortunate as we are. I long for the day that the private sector puts governmental welfare programs out of business. Until then lets not be Scrooges. ツ


  1. You've stopped preachin' and gone to meddlin', Bob.

    I couldn't agree with you more.


  2. Bob, I think that you are way way way off mark here. Libertarian is not about turning your back on mankind. Libertarian is about allowing people to make the choice on how they care for the destitute rather than having it be compulsory. There is no compassion what-so-ever in compulsory help. Where is God at in that. As a Libertarian, you Government must be swept aside to allow the individual more of an opportunity to act with the free will God gave them. I would also counter your analogy in that scrooge is not a libertarian in that he believes in prison and union houses, both of which I believe are funded through government. Quite contrary to your point, I believe scrooge more exemplifies the rich liberal, content with government to assist mankind and what a woeful job it did even back then.

  3. @jrchaard - I mostly agree with you but I do wonder how generous Libertarians who advocate freewill are. I also question your characterization that rich liberals do not help the poor. As far as I can see liberals are, generally speaking, not stingy with their money. Conservatives on the other hand seem to be more penny-pinchers.. but I may be wrong. Do you know of any examples of Libertarian philanthropists? There are probably a bunch that I am not aware of. And I may be embracing stereotypes of these folks a bit too much.

  4. Funny, I was reading the dialogue between the charity collector and Scrooge and thinking, "Here's a liberal that expects the government to do it all!"

    I think everyone tends to see Scrooge as liberal, libertarian, or conservative based on whatever they are NOT. :D In reality he's none of the above and all of the above. He's a perfect example that whatever your political persuasion, you can still be a pitiful excuse for a human being if you lack love/charity.

    Seems like Paul said something about that . . .

  5. @nephos - Great conclusion! That was part of my thinking.. we are our brother's keeper.. we have an obligation to love our neighbor regardless of how we do it.. even if it means that the government does what we will not do.

    Again though I would love to see the private sector put governmental welfare programs out of business but from what I see most folks prefer to take care of religious buildings instead of the poor. But like Brian said I have begun to meddle.

  6. Jrchaard asks where the compassion is in compulsory giving. The man with no bread doesn't care if his bread comes from compassion or from compulsion. We are all free to give as much as we want. So, if we want the government out of the charity business all we have to do is step up an do it. To advocate government getting out and removing the safety net we have already to leave room for "compassion" is doing things in the wrong order, IMO.

  7. Scrooge justified keeping his money, regardless of political leanings, just like we do today.

  8. Funny, but they actually came out with a survey last year and found that people that identify themselves as conservative were much more generous than liberals, and for the reasons I stated.
    Brian, when I'm talking about compassion, I actually do not think it is compassionate at all to create a dependent class. That aside, I'm not examining that for a starving person, it is great to get a meal. From a Kingdom perspective, glory is given to God when that meal comes as the result of a person's free will decision.

  9. jrchaard,

    I'm having trouble discerning your point. I agree that it is better to have a meal given freely than "coerced" from taxes. But, a meal coerced is better than one not received at all. I'm all for private charity. I favor it over government programs. I don't know any Liberals who would say otherwise. But, we think that it's the government's responsibility to step in when the private sector isn't getting the job done.

  10. I do wonder what percentage of religious giving is directed towards the poor versus religious buildings. It seems that private sector (liberal and conservative) giving could majorly impact the poor if it was directed that way instead of towards other places. Possibly government involvement would not be needed it everyone 50 years ago determined to use existing facilities for worship services or maybe just determined to build these places cheaply?

  11. Bob, the survey to which jrchaard is referring actually said that conservatives give a greater percentage of their income to charity than liberals, even when "religious" giving was excluded. It makes sense, really. The liberal sees charity as the government's responsibility, so he doesn't give. The conservative sees it as his own responsibility and gives more. Not surprising at all, if you ask me.

  12. "The liberal sees charity as the government's responsibility, so he doesn't give."


  13. Again, I agree with you Bob. I struggle with giving to a church that uses the money for anything other than maintaining minimal facilities (and salaries and programs) for those already inside and doesn't spend a significant portion of their budget on the poor.

  14. I suspect that Hell will freeze over before the disabled, elderly and poor can expect adequate support from the rest of mankind without the intervention of government and even then it will be sustenance at best.

    Are you smoking that tall prairie grass??

  15. And, now we see that our liberal in chief with 5 million in income just poured open his heart and purse with a tiny portion.

  16. Not sure I would label $329,100 to dozens of charities as "a tiny portion". A few years ago the Obama's gave substantially more (percentage wise) than the other candidates for Prez and Veep.. guess it is all relative.

  17. Also, the president didn’t claim as income any of the $1.4 million awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize he won last year, taking advantage of a tax law provision that allows such awards to be transferred directly to charity. By doing so, he didn't get a deduction for the donation but by my count his total donation to charity last year was $1,729,100. Not bad for a liberal who believes that it is the government's responsibility to care for the poor :)


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