Liberal Scrooges

For a liberal, Scrooge is supposed to be the ultimate corporate villain.

After all, the tight-fisted codger insisted that poor Tiny Tim’s Dad slave away at the office when he should have been conducting winter tests for global warming. At the start of “A Christmas Carol,” old Ebenezer believes firmly that his fellow man should be exploited for every penny.

Christmas, Ebenezer complains, is “a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer.”  

And yet, it seems to me that Ebenezer—before his transformation into a turkey-loving philanthropist—is really the model for modern liberalism.

How can that possibly be?  Isn’t Scrooge the poster-boy for corporate greed, for the fallen Enron executives of our time?  Doesn’t he represent everything that makes capitalism distasteful to the Utopian theorists of the 21st century?   

To answer these burning yuletide questions, let’s draw a sketch of the average American liberal.

To begin with, he’ll be the first to raise an objection to the mention of the word “Christmas”—even by a clergyman. He’ll file suit to prevent Nativity scenes from being placed in front of City Hall…Christmas carols from being sung at school concerts…the Salvation Army from taking up Christmas collections outside discount department stores.

He says “bah, humbug” to anything that reminds us of the miracle of Christ’s birth. He complains that the Virgin Mary is anti-feminist and that the whole Nativity story is paternalistic.

The liberal bitterly decries the economy of George W. Bush, lambasting the President as being insensitive to the needs of working families. But let’s check the record. The economy under a Republican President is never good enough for the liberal. He issued the same complaints during the Reagan Years, when a sunny, idealistic leader took us from malaise to Morning in America.   

It’s hard to argue with statistics, though, and the statistics this Christmas season indicate that the economy couldn’t possibly be in the dire straits that the liberals would have us believe.

For instance, the National Retail Federation estimates that the average consumer will spend $30 on Christmas cards and postage this year. I doubt whether these consumers are being forced to choose between a Christmas turkey and a box of greeting cards.  And they’re certainly not scrimping when it comes to postage—on Dec. 18 alone, an estimated 900 million pieces of mail will be processed.

What is the average American teenager asking for for Christmas this year?  It certainly isn’t knitting needles to darn the only pair of socks in the drawer. No, teens in 2006 are requesting high-end gifts such as electronics and cell phones. And I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that Santa will end up filling many of those orders.

Retailers say that more than two-thirds of American shoppers expect to buy at least five gift cards this year. I’d hazard a guess that each of those cards is likely to be worth at least $25 or so.  One consumer research outfit, Unity Marketing, estimates that Americans will spend nearly $8 billion this year on Christmas and Hanukah decorations alone. That’s up five percent from last year.

While it’s obviously wrong to turn Christmas into some sort of materialistic ritual, the fact is that consumers are expressing confidence in their economic futures with their dollars this Christmas.

Anyone who denies that is as clueless as Ebenezer was before he turned into a compassionate conservative.