Andy Whitman, on 24 November 2009 - 02:05 PM, said:
The pre-transformed Scrooge is motivated by greed and avarice.
If it is greed, it's an odd form of greed. The greed that characterizes, say, Mr. Potter or Gordon Gekko, is a greed in which the money earned from the low-income classes goes directly to the luxuries that they relish in. Expensive cars, jet airliners, portable phones (that last bit being a dated reference), reservations at the hottest clubs, penthouse apartments, and phenomenally ugly artwork.
Scrooge, to his credit, eats alone, in an underheated dwelling, and his dinners constitute an undigested bit of meat or cheese. This is not luxury. This is denying oneself the very luxuries that others would very easily take upon themselves.
It doesn't make him a good person. But it makes him an honest person. That's the difference. If it were any other way, it would very easily be misconstrued that the problem isn't about business in general, but it's about personal responsibility to share what you have, not to let taxation do the job for you.
Having this discussion reminds me about how Stanley Kramer handled the Sydney Poitier character in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (an admittedly inferior work). As a film that tackles a very specific subject matter, it was most important to craft his character in such a manner that the very issue being addressed--interracial marriage be stripped down to its very essentials. Critics accused Kramer of stacking the deck so that Poitier's character is simply soooooo perfect to not exhibit any personal flaws. Yep. Because each of those flaws can be a stepping stone as to why such a marriage should not take place, thus clouding the issue of whether interracial marriage should exist or not.
In much the same way, Scrooge is a mean, heartless, cold, penny-pinching, money-grubbing individual, with no religious sense nor moral imperative to help care for another. But, as a businessman, he is still honest. The business he runs is still a valid one. The people who work under Scrooge are treated just as fairly as he treats himself (which is, admittedly, a warped interpretation of "Love your neighbor as you do yourself"). And those who do not like the environment don't have to work there--they could be sending out resumes to other valid places of employment. The author is simply looking at, not Scrooge the man, but the strength of his business.
Did you see SNL this week? The first sketch? The one where the president of China chides President Obama for lecturing him, when we are going to them for 800 billion dollars of IOUs? That's the point. I deplore China as much as any sensible moral person, but the fact of the matter is, they have money to lend, and our economy is crippling. A basic reason why the market fell apart is because unethical lenders focused an inordinate amount of attention to giving out loans to lower-income families that could not possibly pay them back. That is a point that should not go unnoticed.