Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Uncle Scrooge

I can’t get over it. We tell the wealthier countries of the world to chip in billions for the victims of this catastrophe, and then we toss three million into the kitty. No doubt we’ll shell out a bit more, but don’t hold your breath. It’s not high on our national agenda. Leaders of both parties are visible on our TV screens with their hands our - but it’s relief from taxes that they’re asking - or more federal spending in their own districts..
Call us Uncle Skinflint. We’re not even on the list of the 10 most generous providers of aid -- we’ve not even come close to the pittance called for by a treaty that we have signed. Norway is at the top of the list. One of our diplomats suggested that it ought to put up more.

Or call us Uncle Scrooge. Scrooge has been all over our screens as the old meanie in "A Christmas Carol." A fable for the kiddies. Actually Dickens created him as a reply to the meanies of his day, who were campaigning for the repeal of England’s poor laws. They were arguing that home relief was was bad for the poor -- undermined their character and caused them to multiply until they ate us out of house and home. Scrooge refuses to give a donation, saying "Are their no prisons? Are their no workhouses?"

In the end, Scrooge repents, and provides a turkey the Cratchits and medical care for Tiny Tim. In real life, alas, the meanies won. The poor laws were repealed, the common grazing lands were sealed off and peasants were driven to seek work in mines and mills.