You know, the “hey, A Christmas Carol is total crap because Scrooge is actually the hero” argument is quite possibly the bottom of the barrel as far as libertarian thought goes: taking Dickens’ classic story about the essential emptiness of living only for profit and greed and completely missing the goddamned point isn’t something that should surprise me when it shows up on Mises.org (unofficial motto: “Sure, The State Paid For All the Stuff That Made This Website Possible, But That Doesn’t Mean We Wouldn’t Have Created A Massive International Information Network By Ourselves If We’d Been Given The Chance”) written by a bell curver, and yet it does.
Consider this part.
More notorious even than his miserly ways are Scrooge’s cynical words. “Are there no prisons,” he jibes when solicited for charity, “and the Union workhouses?”
Terrible, right? Lacking in compassion?
Not necessarily. As Scrooge observes, he supports those institutions with his taxes. Already forced to help those who can’t or won’t help themselves, it is not unreasonable for him to balk at volunteering additional funds for their extra comfort.
What Levin does here is conveniently forget to include the response to Scrooge’s question:
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
What this serves as is an indictment of Levin’s entire philosophy. The role of social welfare is traditionally condemned in libertarian circles: better that social welfare be provided by private agencies, say they, as it is in the best interests of all concerned to prevent desperation and abject poverty as much as possible. Well, Scrooge is given a chance to contribute towards the social welfare and he says “go screw.” Apparently, in Scrooge’s eyes, the welfare policies enacted by Victorian-era England (which is, I dunno, a socialist utopian paradise all of a sudden) deny the need for private charity even when clearly insufficient, and give the lie to the theory of private social welfare systems so beloved by the right.
It goes downhill from there. Really. It’s kind of sad.