Since Charles Dickens ‘
I think that Mr. Oliver’s article touches on the specific point at which I have problems with Randism. On the basis of Randism, which in a vast over simplification can be presented as “Selfishness is good, but only to the extent that selfishness does not deny the value of others selfishness” Scrooge is not necessarily a bad person. He’s just suffering from poor presenation. He does not deny Bob Crachit coal, if Bob wanted to pay for it himself, he just doesn’t feel the need to use the coal himself for his needs.
However, Judaism (and other religions, but I’ll speak on what I am familiar with) speaks of the value of tzedaka, which loosly translates to charity. Now it could be argued that since tzedaka is beneficial to the giver (as well as the receiver) one could still follow the model of selfishness. However, Judaism values both selflessness and selfishness, unlike Randism. The challenge lies in the balance between the two.
The one place that I take issue with Mr Oliver is the assumption that charity implies a welfare state. Mr. Oliver has been overly influenced by modern society. The value of charity is in giving, and giving of oneself. A welfare state takes money from all, indiscrimate of desire, and redistributes it to others. The main benefits of charity are lost. Under a welfare state, Scrooge would pay his taxes, Tiny Tim would get free health care, and Scrooge would be just a miserly as before.
However, in our day in age (in the USA at least) the government has taken over the role of charity giver, and in doing so usurped power from the people. (See Edward Nock, “Our Enemy the State”) And this governmental welfare state has become so accepted and ingraned that in a measure for a tax that would go to helping mental health organizations it was argued that a vote against this is a vote against charity. Mr. Oliver seems to have followd this same “logic” in his assumption that the promotion of charity is the promotion of the welfare state.
I’d fall half way (typical centre-left, I know) in saying that it mostly supports a simple idea of good-naturedness: whether religious, spiritual or neither. It condemns, in my view, much of the Victorian unabated capitalism but I wouldn’t say it has a full support for the welfare state or any other socialist tenets – it just says “capitalism is okay, but could do a little bit to help it’s discontents”. It condemns Scrooge for being ‘inhuman’ not because he doesn’t try and bring about a welfare state or because he’s rich or succesful, but simply because he’s a miserable old fool who doesn’t help people who are clearly in need of just a small amount of help, even though all he has to do is very simple and hardly damaging to him (the odd few pennies here) but would make a world of difference to those who recieve it.
Cracking good read whatever your worldview though!
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