[A drawing room in late Victorian-Era London. Seated at a table are the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. The Ghost of Christmas Past looks elated. The Ghost of Christmas Present, donned in a robe several sizes too large, looks haggard. The Ghost of Christmas Future, clad in a modern black hoodie, has no face to be seen.]
Present: As I’ve been telling you all year, I think we need to revisit the case of Ebenezer Scrooge. Christmas Eve is but a few days away.
Past: It was a lovely thing we did, last year, wasn’t it? Really made him see the error of living such a miserly life. Ah, bliss.
Present: Yes, but something isn’t right.
Past: What do you mean? We got the job done, so I’m happy.
Present: You are. But me and the future are worried. But look at how much weight I’ve lost. That’s not supposed to happen. It’s as though people are worse off today than they were a year ago.
Past: How can that be?
Present: I don’t know, Future over here calls it the Venezuela diet.
[Ghost of Christmas Future gives a skeletal thumbs-up.]
Past: I mean, his heart changed. He definitely became generous. I mean, we could visit him again this year and ask him to be more generous. But that would sound a little like looking a gift horse in the mouth, wouldn’t it?
Present: I don’t see how I could push Scrooge to be more generous. He’s given away nearly everything accumulated in a lifetime in just the span of a year. Yet others, whose lives he would have touched either directly or indirectly, seem far worse off in the past year.
Past: Not sure how that could have happened.
Present: He goes about Londontown nowadays giving away his fortune. Yet before, when he lent out his money at interest, the people used that money to sell roasted chestnuts and Christmas trees and other trappings of the Christmas season. And other things, throughout the year.
Past: They’re not doing that anymore?
Present: Indeed not. They’ve taken the money charitably received and used it in other ways. They do not tend to their business as they once did. Many, despite being initially better off last Christmas, are now worse off today as a result.
Past: That’s not my problem right now. Although it will be soon. [He points to Future.] What’s your take on it?
[Ghost of Christmas Future shrugs.]
Present: I see. Perhaps there’s a better balance between work and good deeds that we’ve missed while doing our meddling work throughout the holiday season.
Past: I don’t see how. Look at all the Christmases we’ve seen. Mankind as a whole continues to advance in his devices and trinkets and baubles. He doesn’t always advance in his morals and values.
Present: I’m just saying we seem to have moved from one imbalance to another. Take this ScroogeCare initiative, for instance. Tiny Tim alone has single-handedly bankrupted it in less than a year with his need for higher-quality crutches.
[Ghost of Christmas Future makes animated gestures.]
Past: I don’t know what a pre-existing condition is, but that sounds like my department, thank you very much. [He pauses for a moment.] Perhaps implying that he faced eternal damnation for declining to be generous was a bit much, in my usual hindsight.
Present: Exactly. It’s only been a year. But if this trend continues, I fear we may have unleashed a great danger. We need to intervene again. Not just for Scrooge, but for those dependent on the businesses that his lending business has made possible.
Past: Scrooge is just one man, though. And it sounds like we need a bigger solution. What if we visited some members of the Bank of England this year, and pressed them into introducing more banknotes?
[Ghost of Christmas Future vehemently shakes his head.]
Present: Hyper what? That doesn’t sound like it will help the problem either. Although it does sound like it would be a very Merry Christmas indeed. At least at first. Everyone appreciates having more money, but when everyone has more money, it seems as though nobody does.
Past: What about influencing some politicians?
Present: Wouldn’t work. Disraeli is back in power. He’s Jewish. He’s under the jurisdiction of the ghosts of Hanukkah. I’m not sure what can be done here. Our further meddling may simply make things worse.
Past: You know, in hindsight, it’s almost as though Scrooge did nothing wrong. He just simply was too focused on going about it the wrong way. He needed a gentle nudge, not our three-pronged bludgeon.
Present: You say that, but perhaps we should double down on last year’s plan. It did work quite well at first.
[Ghost of Christmas Future makes another animated gesture.]
Present: What’s a Dickensian dystopia?
Past: Ugh, I hate it when he’s snarky like this. Let’s pick this up tomorrow night. Can we move to adjourn?
Andrew Packer is a Senior Financial Editor with Newsmax Media. He currently writes the Insider Hotline investment advisory, serves as investment director for the Financial Braintrust, and writes the monthly newsletter Crisis Point Investor.
© 2023 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.