The Quote: "The debate about how to respond to poverty continues to this day—in much the same language Dickens recalled more than a century and a half ago. The poor are still with us, as are the Scrooges. We’d best bless them all, with hopes that the ghosts of Past, Present, and Future will again visit those who are in need of some seasonal prodding." From John Nichols at The Nation.
The context is Nichols' commentary on the reactions of the Republican front-runners to the idea of increasing the minimum wage and how their responses seem so Dickensian.
“I hate to say it,” said Trump, “but we have to leave [the current $7.25-an-hour minimum wage] the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratosphere. We cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can’t do it.”
[The moderator] Cavuto asked if Trump was really saying, “Do not raise the minimum wage.”
“I would not do it,” responded the billionaire.
In fairness to Mr. Trump, he is rather proud of his personal charity. Give the billionaire his due for that—and for asserting that he really did “hate” to deny working Americans a living wage. In further fairness to Mr. Trump, it should be noted that several of his fellow Republican contenders were at least as hard-hearted as the wealthiest man on the stage. Dr. Ben Carson, a millionaire many times over, peddled the fantasy that paying working Americans a living wage would create unemployment. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who rarely shows up for his own day job, announced that a federal living-wage guarantee would be “a disaster.”
Trump was simply saying, as one of the richest men in the world, that he was not ready to embrace the ancient principle that a fair day’s work ought to be compensated with a fair day’s pay. Like so many of his Republican compatriots, the billionaire cannot muster the generosity of spirit—and economic common sense—required to support modest policy changes that would extend a measure of equity to Americans who work full time but still live in poverty. For these political misers, policies that might improve the lot of the poor are not their business.
Charles Dickens, the author of A Christmas Carol sought "to inspire and extend the humanity of his countrymen" through his accounting of the transition of Ebenezer Scrooge from a political miser to a charitable human.
Before you unwrap your gifts, check out Nichols' juxtaposition of Scrooge's original views with those of our present Greedy Old Patriarchs. May the ghosts of Christmas visit them soon.