Monday, December 4, 2017

The Dickens You Say

You can get a great debate going among classic film buffs by asking who gave the best performance as Ebenezer Scrooge in the various film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

There are those who say Reginald Owen nailed it in 1938.  I have a dear friend who claims that Alastair Sim is the quintessential Scrooge in the 1951 edition.  Then there are the modernists who look to Albert Finney in the musical “Scrooge,” or George C. Scott in the 1984 TV movie, or even Patrick Stewart in 1999.  Each one of them had their glorious moments as the money-grubbing heartless and bitter old crank, especially when they turned their wrath on the sick and the young.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … 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?”
“Plenty of prisons…”
“And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

But wait; we have a new contender for the role in the person of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who thinks that sick children of the poor working class are just a bunch of freeloaders who deserve what they get and shouldn’t be suckling at the teat of the wealthy.

“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.”

He’s going after the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) whose funding ended on October 1.  The program, which, in saner times, Mr. Hatch once supported, costs $15 billion.  That sounds like a lot, but since Mr. Hatch was in the process of voting for a tax bill that costs $1.5 trillion, he’s bemoaning a program that costs about 1% of the whole bill because, in his words, “we don’t have the money anymore.”

Jacob Marley, that’s your cue.

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