The Case for Scrooge

 This is Steven Landsburg via Robin Hanson:

Here’s what I like about Ebenezer Scrooge: His meager lodgings were dark because darkness is cheap, and barely heated because coal is not free. His dinner was gruel, which he prepared himself. Scrooge paid no man to wait on him. Scrooge has been called ungenerous. I say that’s a bum rap. …

In this whole world, there is nobody more generous than the miser — the man who could deplete the world’s resources but chooses not to…

Whole piece worth reading.

Comments (3)

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  1. Joe Barnett says:

    Dickens’ view of Scrooge was colored by the Malthusian beliefs of his time: what Scrooge kept for himself meant less for others (rather than providing capital that helped employ others) and what he gave away stimulated the economy by increasing consumption.

  2. Davie says:

    A novel argument raised by Steven Landsburg!

    I wouldn’t call misers “most” generous. There is a form of generosity at work, but it is both unintentional and self-interested. It is, however, interesting and clever to note that the byproduct of intelligent self-interest produces a public good.

  3. Buster says:

    That’s an important point! Scrooge was tight-fisted on his own luxuries so why should we expect him to be any different with other people?

    Misers don’t appear as generous as spendthrifts. But the economy needs both types — people who save (and invest) and those who consume.