The modern Scrooge

When I was a kid, the holiday season was a time for displays of generosity. We knew who the villain was, even if the story was about his redemption, in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.[1]

This year, millions face homelessness, hunger, destitution.[2] The politicians do nothing.[3] They omit the “Bah, Humbug!” But like Ebenezer Scrooge, they say, keep working.[4] As if those millions had jobs.[5]

Nancy Pelosi has her very, very expensive freezers stuffed with very, very expensive ice cream.[6] Scrooge counted his money.[7]

Scrooge received visits from the ghosts of Christmas, past, present, and future.[8] No such ghosts will disturb the slumber of our modern elites in their comfortable beds in their luxurious mansions, well protected by the police.[9]

Scrooge realized the error of his ways.[10] Our elites persist in neoliberal dogma.[11]

Instead of generosity, a meanness of spirit has settled over a large portion of our population that at least verges on the sexual, with testosterone pickup trucks whose drivers revel in xenophobia, racism, “make a liberal cry,” and “fuck your feelings.” Nowhere near so rich, they nonetheless emulate Scrooge.

Social conservatives protest that we have lost the spirit of Christmas, that we worship materialism rather than Christ. But they vote for Donald Trump. At least one calls for bloodshed in his defense, as if he were the Christ, Lord,[12] who instead urged his followers to put away their swords.[13] They, themselves, worship Mammon, insisting on in-person services that will spread disease during a pandemic.[14]

As I drive around the Pittsburgh area, I see more Christmas decorations this year than last. We are to celebrate, even as millions face eviction in a cold January.[15] We should feel shame instead.

  1. [1]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  2. [2]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  4. [4]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  5. [5]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/; David Benfell, “Ice cream and hair appointments,” Not Housebroken, September 3, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/03/ice-cream-and-hair-appointments/
  7. [7]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  8. [8]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  9. [9]David Benfell, “On police,” Not Housebroken, August 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/10/on-police/
  10. [10]Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” Project Gutenberg, March 4, 2018, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
  11. [11]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gig-economy-compromised-immune-system-000048670.html; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  12. [12]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/; Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-trump-bloodshed-american-apocalypse-live-not-by-lies/; Sarah Jones, “White Evangelicals Made a Deal With the Devil. Now What?” New York, December 6, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/12/white-evangelicals-made-a-deal-with-trump-now-what.html; Peter Wehner, “Evangelicals Made a Bad Bargain With Trump,” Atlantic, October 18, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-evangelical-movements-bad-bargain/616760/; Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html
  13. [13]Matt. 26:52 (New International Version).
  14. [14]Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court sides with California church protesting coronavirus restrictions,” Washington Post, December 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-california-coronavirus-church/2020/12/03/fcf4fcf8-357d-11eb-a997-1f4c53d2a747_story.html
  15. [15]Heather Long, “Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/07/unemployed-debt-rent-utilities/