What Scrooge Teaches Millennials

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is the fourth in a series. If you haven’t, please read part 1, part 2, and part 3

Because so many school systems have driven great English literature out of students’ hands and minds, it’s possible that some kids never read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.  If you’ve never read this classic, please do so now.  You need it.

Scrooge_Marley

Back?  Good. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it?  And so much more accessible than David Copperfield, which was my introduction to Dickens.

So now you know that Scrooge was a miser who treated the whole world and all of its inhabitants with a cruel contempt.  Scrooge loved money and nothing else.

But during the course of the story, a series of spirits massage Scrooge’s conscience. They begin with his own happy youth, when Scrooge still enjoyed the presence of other people.  They proceed through Scrooges present and into his future.

Somewhere along the way, Scrooge changes.  He has a conversion. He learns to love others as himself.

If I were a Millennial—those born between 1983 and about 2002—I’d ask myself, “why?”

The spirits didn’t argue politics or morality with Scrooge.  They didn’t tell him his taxes were too low, and they didn’t send bureaucrats to audit his books and extract fines.

Instead, they made it personal.  They showed him his real life—past, present, and future—in living color and 3D.  They simply held up a mirror and provided him clear evidence of what his future would be if remained on the path he’d taken.

Scrooge reformed because he knew a lonely, unhappy death awaited him. He knew that people would mock his memory.

Millennials should take a hard look at our national debt. Not just where it stands, but the direction it’s going.

Look at the amount of debt that Gen X, Boomers, and WWII have saddled you with.  It’s about $50,000 and going up every day.

What did you get for that money?  Not a damn thing, really.  Most of that debt went to pay for people who are already retired. In other words, your grandparents are borrowing money, spending it, and passing the bill onto you.

I know you’re a generous group. You want to help. You believe in this country, and you’re willing to sacrifice to make it stronger.

We all are.  That’s a common trait of Americans.

But how much can you bear?  How much of a debt burden can your generation really handle?

On top of Washington’s $15 trillion in debt and $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities, most states hold hundreds of billions or more in combined debt and future pension obligations.  Those aren’t your pensions, but the pensions of people in older generations.

Well, you weren’t asking for all that debt. Now you’re stuck with it.

Again, how much more can you and our society handle? And does it really help anyone for the government to make promises it can’t keep?

Scrooge looked at “Christmas Yet To Come” and saw his horrible death. Unless he changed.

When I look at America’s future, I see the same.

The spirits gave Scrooge the chance to reform, and he took it.

Will you?

How Government Growth Creates Scrooges

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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. 

humbug-scrooge

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?

Are We the Last Americans?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sometimes nightmares end well. 

Sometimes they don’t.

Salon carries a depressing story for the lower 48 of North America. Author Alfred McCoy writes:

Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

He proceeds to examine four scenarios that would turn the USA into a minor nation by the year 2025.

Is McCoy right?

He could be.  If our purpose is or becomes imperialism, then we are doomed. Deservedly so. Empires fall because they are unsustainable, to coin a phrase. Imperialism relies on continued spread of power.  Once there’s no place left to conquer—or the supply lines stretch too thin—the house of cards collapses.  Quickly, as McCoy points out.

On the other hand, if our purpose as a people is to protect life, defend and advance the cause of liberty, and to allow just men and women the unbounded opportunity to pursue happiness according to their will, then the disaster scenarios Professor McCoy details will be avoided.

The reason the Tea Party ideals continue to grow and spread is because those ideals begin with the people.  A government that serves the people who formed it and sustain it will be too weak to become an empire.  A government that lords over its people has already become worse than empire; it has become a tyranny.

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if
persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the
courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is
thus with what you show me!”

The Spirit was immovable as ever.

                                                       —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

 

No other nation was founded on a belief in such a profound truths as was this nation.  Our beliefs, brought to life through the Constitution and sustained by an informed electorate, produced wealth beyond our imagination. But that wealth and our power are by-products of the America Ideal, not its end.

Let’s make McCoy’s wonderfully chilling article serve us the way the Ghost of Christmas Yet to come served Scrooge. Let’s return our government and our people to those founding principles before it’s too late.