Monday, December 17, 2007

To Scrooge or Not to Scrooge

In the spirit of the holidays, I watched A Christmas Carol last night, which is always one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Much has been said about the lesson that is taught in this movie, especially from a political context. Most folks argue that the lesson is based on liberal ideology, that Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a villain because he is wealthy and does not want to share a single dime of his wealth with anyone, especially the poor, even at Christmastime.

The lesson to be taught, in this case, is that owning vast amounts of wealth is wrong unless you are willing to share it with those who do not have wealth.

Naturally, conservatives argue that this is a poor lesson to be taught. They, along with many libertarians, see Ebenezer Scrooge as a hero, instead of a villain, putting forth the effort to be as successful as he can be and appreciating the wealth he has obtained due to the hard work he has achieved.

They see Bob Cratchit (Scrooge's poorly paid employee) as the villain, as opposed to being the hero in the liberal point-of-view, due to Cratchit's unwillingness to improve himself and get a better job in order to better support his family, especially since he has a crippled son (Tiny Tim).

The lesson here, instead, is that there is nothing wrong with owning wealth, particularly if you worked hard to achieve it, and if you don't want to give any of it away to people who would rather get a hand-out instead of achieve their own success, then there is nothing wrong with that.

I would like to offer my own, alternative lesson that can and possibly should be applied to this story. It's a lesson about freedom.

I don't think there is anything wrong with either scenario that I have explained above. If someone who is wealthy and well-to-do wants to share their wealth with others who have not worked as hard or improved themselves as much or who are less fortunate, there is nothing wrong with that. It's Scrooge's wealth; he should be able to do what he wants with it. That's freedom.

On the other hand, if someone does not want to share the wealth they have worked hard to obtain or were fortunate enough to receive with people who do not have wealth, then there is nothing wrong with that either. Once again, it's Scrooge's wealth, he should be able to do what he wants with it. That's freedom.

Expecting people to do one thing or the other with their wealth shows a lack of consideration for freedom. Even worse, once we start legislating what someone should do with their wealth, that's tyranny. The only exception to that tyranny is if such legislation is kept at the state level, where the people have options to choose from.

In the end, the argument over whether or not someone should share their wealth is pointless and futile because It's a Free Country. In a free country, people should be able to hoard their wealth or share their wealth as they please.

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