December 27, 2011 by William Hennessy
How Government Growth Creates Scrooges
Scrooge’s nephew left the office and let in two men in the process. They came to ask for a donation for London’s poor.
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
—Dickens, Charles (2004-08-11). A Christmas Carol (pp. 5-6). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
Liberals, of course, consider Scrooge the quintessential Republican. Scrooge cared only for himself. He was a miser. His miserliness made him miserable, bent, and twisted.
Of course, this liberal view of Scrooge lacks consideration. It misses the fundamental flaw in 19th century English government meddling.
Is Scrooge’s attitude so different from most American’s? Do we really take it upon ourselves to help those in need? Are we, as individuals or groups, trying to build a better society?
Or do we say, “let the government take care of it?”
Government largesse only encourages misers like Scrooge to remain miserly. The debtors’ prisons and Union workhouses lent Scrooge an easy out. “That’s what government’s for.”
The traditional American view of the good society differs wildly from Scrooges; the welfare state’s view does not.
When it comes to certain topics—sex, drugs, profanity, modest dress—we often hear, “you can’t legislate morality.” Why do we never hear that about charity? Isn’t welfare simply government’s attempt to force a moral viewpoint on society?
And doesn’t it fail as surely as attempts to dictate skirt-lengths or song lyrics?
Good societies result from good people. All legislation is moral, but legislation can’t change men’s hearts.
The After Party is St. Louis Tea Party’s attempt to repair the fabric of society—a fabric left to rot as we turned to government for solutions to problems that can and should be handled by local communities, charitable organizations, and states.
That’s not to say that government, at every level, must withdraw from charitable programs. Rather, the Constitution provides no authority to Washington. And local programs tend to trump distant ones precisely because the benefactor and beneficiary live, work, and worship together.
While the Tea Party is not a charity, it does have the tools to make stronger, healthier human bonds. These bonds give us all resources for handling tough times.
More importantly, these bonds encourage us to look at each other as human beings. And we’re more likely to help fellow human beings than we are to give up another tax dollar to a bureaucracy that loses and wastes more money than returns to the needy.
By the way, the two gentlemen soliciting donations said something you’ll never hear from a Washington bureaucrat. Did you catch it?