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A Christmas Carol: The Economics Of Efficiency And Grace

1381 words - 6 pages

The leading character in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, has become an icon of what it means to lack a Christmas spirit. Ebenezer Scrooge possesses a title much like “The Grinch”; his name conjures the thought of a man who through stinginess steals away happiness from everyone around him. Scrooge’s foil in the story, Bob Cratchit, characterized as a man of humble means, possesses an unyielding spirit for the Christmas season. Dickens’s religious readers could describe Cratchit as full of Christian charity, while they would call Scrooge a man untouched by biblical principles. However, the distinction between Cratchit and Scrooge’s Christianity cannot be cut so clearly. The biblical ...view middle of the document...

Cratchit lacks many characteristics an employee looks for and this must be the cause that he has not found other employment. Cratchit adds minimal marginal value to Scrooge & Marley. The Bible, in 2 Thessalonians 3:8, says that a worker must work heartily for their pay; Cratchit’s pay demonstrates the value of the work he contributes. The text says he has little imagination, he cannot create a solution to warm himself besides holding his hands to the flame of a small candle. Although Cratchit may feel the pinch at home, he has no skills to take to another employer. Cratchit’s opportunity cost of being employed by Scrooge, even with the harsh treatment, must be lower than the benefit he receives by having the job. If Cratchit lost more from his employment at Scrooge & Marley or could find a better job somewhere else, then he would already have left Scrooge’s firm.
In the instance of Cratchit’s pay, Scrooge properly applies the biblical principle of paying workers according to their labor. James 5:4 commands employers not to cheat their employees out of the wages that they owe them. Scrooge pays Cratchit what they agreed upon and a Christmas bonus does not fall under their agreement. Scrooge holds the correct opinion that a labor should be paid according to the work he contributes. 1 Corinthians 3:8 would suggests that workers should not be given paid holidays, such as Christmas, because they do not deserve to be paid for an entire day that they did not work.
Indeed Scrooge proves an excellent steward of his money. His attentiveness and diligence over an extended amount of time has allowed him to amass great wealth and an extensive client base. His reputation as a businessman proceeds him; even though his countenance may be less than desired, people respect him for his accounting ingenuity. Scrooge resembles the good servant in Matthew 25 who has been entrusted with much, so he invests the money and earns a 100% profit from his investments.
Although the Bible encourages workers to earn their wages, so they will not be a burden to their employer, the Bible has a difference standard for employers. The Bible requires employers to consider the alien and poor of by allowing the less fortunate to glean their fields. The principle of gleaning requires field owners not to reap the margins of their fields and not to pass over the field a second time after the majority of the harvest has been completed. The principle of gleaning in Old Testament times seems opposite to economic efficiency. The act of not reaping everything contradicts the foundational laws of business: maximize profits. In biblical times a primarily agricultural economy existed, so by not reaping the edges of their fields the Israelites were not maximizing their outputs according to the time and resources they possessed. Held against these standards, Scrooge falls miserably short. The ruthlessness that has made his firm so profitable has been made at the cost of the poor. Cratchit...

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