Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

We love childhood.  We sentimentalize it and even fetishize it, but let's face it, we hate kids.   The numbers of homeless children in New York City are the highest since the Great Depression.  Sixteen million children, 22% of all children in the USA in 2013 live in poverty.  That's over a fifth of all children in the richest most powerful empire in history.  And numbers for child mortality, child malnutrition rates, child imprisonment, and child deaths from gunfire are about as bad.  And that's in the country that's "Number One!"

In the rest of the world, things are so much worse.

Child soldiers, Syria

Child soldiers, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Child laborers, Bangladesh

Child laborers, Philippines

Child laborers, Uzbekistan

Child prisoners, USA

The gods of gold, power, and death who rule this world and rule our hearts (despite what we say we believe in or don't believe in) demand sacrifice, and kids turn out to be an easy and cheap offering.  We eagerly use them and use them up in our efforts to pile up treasure and force against our inevitable demise.  In our drive to score victory and to dominate our rivals, we forget that we were once small and helpless, entirely dependent upon the care of others.  That some must be kept in misery for the comfort and convenience of others is axiomatic to us. Our drive for success (and even more, our terror of failure) created a world that is every bit as bad, and maybe worse, than the Victorian London Dickens described in his famous A Christmas Carol.

Here is one Austrian economist commenting on Charles Dickens' economic views:

It is this interplay of marketplace forces — which Dickens neither understands nor favors — coupled with Cratchit's passive, sluggish disposition when it comes to improving his marketable skills or opportunities, that accounts for Cratchit's condition in life. My client should no more be expected to pay Cratchit more than his marketable skills merit than would Dickens have paid his stationer a higher than market price for his pen, ink, and paper, simply because the retailer "needed" more money! Dickens's ignorance of basic economics would, if acted upon by Scrooge, have produced adverse consequences for Cratchit himself. Had Ebenezer paid Cratchit a higher salary for his work, he [Scrooge] would very likely have been able to attract a larger number of job applicants from which he could have selected employees whose enhanced marginal productivity might have earned Scrooge even greater profits. At such a point, terminating Cratchit's employment would have been an economically rational act by Scrooge. As matters now stand, Scrooge's employment policies have left him with the kind of groveling, ergophobic, humanoid sponge we have come to know as Bob Cratchit; a man we are expected to take into our hearts as an expression of some warped sense of the "Christmas spirit." Being an astute businessmen, Ebeneezer Scrooge was well aware of the marketplace maxim that "you get what you pay for."

And the numbers of Bob Cratchits with their little tiny Tims out there in the world are in the millions upon millions.  "Groveling, ergophobic, humanoid sponge" ... the folks who own and run the world are proud of their hard-heartedness and make the firm of Scrooge and Marley look like the Red Cross in comparison.

Some of us believe that the Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, came into this world not in some spectacular all powerful theophany, but as one of these children; as the bastard son of an impoverished teenage mother in some back corner colony of the superpower of the day.  And that trashy little tyke would eventually turn the whole cargo cult of power and success upside down.  And in that is our hope.

On Christmas, every child is the Christ child.


JCF said...

I really, REALLY wanted that Dickens screed to be a "Poe". But clicking the link---see how it goes on and on---it really doesn't look like it, does it?

Horrendous. ["Rand Paul 2016!"]

Counterlight said...

Now I know about "Poe's Law." Learn something new everyday. Thanks JCF, and indeed, "Good Lord deliver us."

June Butler said...

Thus it was for the children, and so it is now. There's a reason the Feast of the Holy Innocents follows so soon after Christmas. When will we ever learn that the Gospel stories are not about "them" but about us?

Counterlight said...

Amen Grandmere.