Movie Review: White Christmas

WhiteChristmasby Brad Nelson   12/20/13
I don’t like this film simply because it’s directed by one of my favorite directors, Michael Curtiz (Casablanca). And I really should dislike it because I’ve never, for some reason, been able to stomach Danny Kaye. I’ve always had an aversion to his cheesy and corny slapstick. He seemed like Jerry Lewis without the charm.

But White Christmas has changed my mind on that. This movie has become one of my favorite Christmas movies. It’s got song. It’s got dance (Vera-Ellen is dynamite). It’s got comedy. It’s got schmaltz. And, last but not least, it’s got Bing.

They say that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” And I can hardly argue against the point. But if there is a close second, it is Bing Crosby who gives quite a bit of tingle to this season. In my mind, it’s not Christmas without Der Bingle.

And it has Irving Berlin, of course.

My only complaint is that Rosemary Clooney ought not to listen to gossip. Yikes. She almost ruined a happy ending. But she has the voice of an angel.

There’s so much to like about this movie. It’s from an age before the cynicism of the Left poisoned the atmosphere. It’s charming from top to bottom. The songs are terrific throughout. None of them come off as an interruption of the story. And the dance numbers (which, for me, often drag down musical) are fun to watch and carry the story right along.

In fact, the best moment in the movie for me is Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen singing and dancing to The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing. This number alone is worth the price of admission. This number has a charm, romance, and artistry that is rarely captured like this in a musical. It’s elegant rather than hyper-kinetic. The choreographer deserved major kudos for this one. And this is definitely where Kaye wins me over. His dancing is fluid and full of warm personality.

You could say the story is, like most musicals, simply there to hang the song and dance numbers on. But that would be cheating this movie which does have a pleasant plot to it. It has a good start. Good middle. Good ending. It doesn’t get much better than this for a holiday movie. For me it’s the new old classic.

Watching this (back to back with another favorite, “Going My Way”) is getting that Christmas Spirit meter back in the positive zone. Do yourself a favor. If you haven’t watched this in a while, do so. • (2969 views)

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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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33 Responses to Movie Review: White Christmas

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I finally saw this a year or two back, when one of the networks showed that and Miracle on 34th Street back-to-back (more than once). I will say that I prefer the latter. I will also add that I obviously like Danny Kaye a lot more than you do (I used to watch his show back in the 1960s),

    An interesting point is that the song “White Christmas”, like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, is actually only a portion of the original. It was about someone living in southern California on a beautiful day — but it’s Christmas Eve and he’d rather be back home.

    Some of the anti-Christmas types have sought to eliminate even the music without the words. Of course, any fan of the Bob Rivers Comedy Group will know that one can come up with parody lyrics that have nothing to do with religion (there are several examples on their CDs). But I like the idea of playing “White Christmas”, lyrics as well as words — and when some christophobe complains, point out that the song was written by a Jew.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, that’s a nice little ditty at the opening of White Music that is rarely heard:

      The sun is shining, the grass is green
      The orange and palm trees sway
      There’s never been such a day
      In Beverly Hills, L.A.

      But it’s December the 24th
      And I’m longing to be up North…

      And “Miracle on 34th Street” (the Natalie Wood version) should be on everyone’s top twenty list of Christmas movies. You’d think that movie would, in particular, be a big hit with today’s crowd.

      Maureen O’Hara (in arguably her best role) plays the strong feminist-style working woman, and one of a particular secular bent. She doesn’t believe in all that mumbo-jumbo. She believes only what she can see. But otherwise she is an exemplary person.

      John Payne is outstanding as the slick newspaper reporter with an “angle.” He doesn’t really believe that Kris is Santa Claus. But he knows a good story when he sees one. And he plays at making himself believe as he refutes the uber-secular mother and daughter who are both colder characters than is good for them.

      We now know (at least in the short term) in our own day that Doris Walker’s world won out. But back in 1947, she was the odd man out. And maybe that’s why this movie isn’t found on everyone’s list. Richard Dawkins would not approve. It contains talk about faith. And we can’t have that.

      Perhaps my Danny Kaye issue is that I’d previously caught him only in pretty bad films. I was just watching (or trying to watch) “On the Town” with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Despite the generally good ratings for this musical, I found it to be loud, obnoxious, and of very pedestrian taste, although the stage version of it was apparently much better (with a different set of music and a grittier story). But this movie version is just dumb. But if I would have judged, say, Frank Sinatra by this movie I might not have enjoyed him in some of his other roles.

      Well, overcoming my Danny Kaye aversion, I watched “The Five Pennies” this afternoon, starring Danny Kaye, and it was mostly a pretty good movie. A bit uneven in places. Its focus and tone changed midstream. It didn’t seem sure at times what story it wanted to tell or what movie it wanted to be. But it was a mostly honest story about the trials and tribulations of a coronet player who wanted to make it big. It’s got some good humor in it and some good music. I just think it tried to be a bit too ambitious when it tried to patch-in a melodrama as well.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I’m not all that familiar with Kaye’s movies. I have seen The Court Jester and most of Hans Christian Andersen when TCM was having a Kaye special, and once saw a movie (title forgotten) in which he plays an impostor for a British general (based on an actual World War II incident, which was alluded to in the movie 36 Hours). I also saw the Muppet Show episode on which he was the guest star.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          in which he plays an impostor for a British general

          That may be “The Inspector General” which I plan to watch if I can get around to it.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            My recollection, from seeing The Inspector General listed, is that it was set in Russia; the entry on it in Wikipedia sets it in Europe but says it’s based on a story by Gogol (best known for Dead Souls, which I read in high school and have a copy of). Apparently the movie I saw was On the Double.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I just read a piece from the NRCC listing their favorite Christmas movies. White Christmas made the list (as did How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though not Miracle on 34th Street).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Here’s a semi-adequate list of Best Christmas Movies from AMC.

      I don’t agree with the inclusion of “Bad Santa” (a piece of modern trash) or “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Nor is “Frosty the Snowman” particularly good. But most if its lineup is fairly strong.

      “Elf” is a fairly recent entry. I watched that just the other day (for the second time). It’s definitely in the spirit of the modern secular culture.

      Will Ferrell plays the eternal juvenile, a popular motif of today. And with left wing nut Ed Asner as Santa and James Caan as the evil capitalist, this movie, of course, stresses the secular aspects of Christmas through a modern Cultural Marxist lens (which is paganistic in outlook). We have a disembodied “Christmas Spirit” which lifts Santa’s sleigh. The material lens abounds in this.

      Bob Newhart adds the touch of comedic class. And the movie is quite funny in parts. But at the end of it all, you’re not sure of what you watched or why you watched it. I guess the message is “eat lots of sugar.”

      But it has some great skits in it, particularly the scene with Peter Dinklage who Buddy is convinced is a fellow elf. This is harmless mind-candy, but nowhere near as deep as most of the other great Christmas movies. Sort of a sign of the times.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Actually, I rather like The Nightmare Before Christmas, though I doubt I’d put it ahead of some of the others not listed (there are several other fine versions of A Christmas Carol, many of which I saw last year, including the Mr. Magoo version that was reportedly the first TV animated Christmas special). But then, none of us is Ayn Rand, so we’re allowed to have different tastes.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Oh yeah, that Old Mr. Magoo version is a classic.

          I think the George C. Scott version of “A Christmas Carol” has a lot to commend it. The definitive version is probably 1951’s with Alastair Sim.

          For a little fun with this, “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” is good for some harmless fun, as is “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.” The latter you can find streamable on Netflix.

          “Scrooged,” with Bill Murray, is a clever modern adaptation. But I think it is one of our jobs (who will do it?) to write the opposite story. We are desperately in need of someone telling the story of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives wrecked by do-gooder socialism. Capitalism always gets a bad wrap. But in the case of Scrooge, he was a productive, if ornery, member of the community. And when he did have a change of heart, he didn’t start some Federal agency to give out “free stuff.” He gave to private charity and was personally nice to people. This is the opposite of socialism.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            A recent piece on Town Hall argued that Santa was obviously a Republican (he smokes a pipe, lives in a tax-free zone, subsists heavily on milk and cookies, and hires non-union labor, for example). Another argued that Dickens’s point in A Christmas Carol was to align himself with classical economics (Adam Smith) against the Malthusians (“decrease the surplus population”). The latter noted that Scrooge was too busy hoarding his money to invest it (which is no doubt why he only has a single low-wage employee, unlike old Fezziwig), and points out that the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge a marketplace and all the things you can get there from foreign lands (such as oranges). So perhaps it’s all been a matter of misinterpretation all along.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              and points out that the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge a marketplace and all the things you can get there from foreign lands (such as oranges).

              Yes, I just re-read that section now. And immediately after, Scrooge is disingenuously chiding the Spirit for closing those wonderful markets once every seven days and thus depriving people of the bounty.

              The slick tongues of the Barack Obama types come in all shapes and sizes. But they always do lie, make excuses, and twist the truth.

              The way I see it, Utopia is unkind to any point of view or practice. Yes, Scrooge might have been more generous. But as far as we know, he was cheating no one. He provided a service that people were willing to pay for. It might suck that Bob Cratchit wasn’t paid more. But was this because Scrooge was a Scrooge? Couldn’t Cratchit have gotten a job elsewhere if he was worth more?

              What we will ultimately find is that the free market system, backed by a sound individual-rights-based constitution, is the best system we have. And the truth is, inside of any system you will find stingy people. But if a nation is free then a person is free to find an employer who is less stingy. The alternative is to put the “generous” people such as Obama or Hillary in charge where they decide to the nth degree what is “fair.”

              Yeah, the real world can suck. But a world that tries to be Utopia sucks all the more. The lesson that idiot Marxists will take away from “A Christmas Carol” is that capitalism is “selfish” and therefore must be destroyed. The lesson we should all probably take away is a much more sophisticated one. It’s that whatever system one is working in, there is something to be said for being generous and kind of spirit.

              But that doesn’t mean that this does away with the need for people to work, to make a living, to compete, to struggle, and to make a profit. Only fools, Utopianists, and those infused with white guilt believe otherwise. Within the facts of life we can, and should, be generous, but never with a thought that be doing so we can overcome the realities of life itself.

              In my mind, Scrooge is not a villain…at least economically. But personally, he is trapped within a cold exterior. There are those who inherently equate capitalism with this cold exterior and socialism with the warm-fuzzies of “giving.” And this is a huge mistake. But this type of message is now predominant in movies. And the more people who mooch off of government, the more impetus there is for seeing socialism as the opposite of Scrooge.

              I don’t at all think that “A Christmas Carol” transcends politics. But if we take these lessons and apply them to government, instead of to our personal conduct, we will have bastardized the message, regardless of whatever it is that Dickens intended. Dickens lived in a stratified society in which it was more difficult for people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. The solution to this story, in his time, was for “the rich” to simply ease the suffering of “the poor” by being more generous. But that still leaves you with a stratified society.

              The American solution was for each individual to take his life into his own hands. No privileged classes (and no victim classes either). “A Christmas Carol” written in and for America would look quite different. And if written today it might have a Scrooge who was a government bureaucrat keeping some Bob Cratchit from being able to conduct his business because of the selfishness of government. Now that’s a story I’d like to see.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                That does sound like a good alternative. George Orwell (a socialist, after all) noted that Dickens favored the generous capitalist, not socialism. One might also note that the Cratchits were hard-working sorts (as I recall, a daughter had a job and a son was in the process of getting one); nor is it clear that the clerk was actually underpaid by the standard of the time.

                Additionally, one might point out that in the end Scrooge did change, something that obviously never happened (e.g.) to Jacob Marley. An annotated edition pointed to his “more of gravy than of grave” to indicate that there was more to him than pure miserliness. I would also note his response when Cratchit asks for Christmas off — he allows it, however reluctantly, but adds that Cratchit wouldn’t like working a day without pay.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “John Payne is outstanding as the slick newspaper reporter with an “angle.”

    Sorry to correct you, but Payne was a lawyer whose only angle was he decided to defend Kris in court in order to keep him from being committed to an asylum. In the movie, Payne even resigned from his legal firm to do this as they thought the publicity would reflect on the firm.

    The scene where the judge digs his way through the pile of the letters addressed to Santa Claus, which have been dumped on his desk, is my favorite.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I stand corrected. I had remembered him as a newspaper reporter.

      What I liked about Payne is that he saw Kris as just a harmless old man. At the very end he wasn’t so sure about his own belief system. Maybe what he did wasn’t so wonderful. There might have been magic beyond his slick lawyer skills.

      And I do think in refuting the cool secularism of Doris and her daughter that he was stoking his own Christmas spirit a bit. He had all kinds of great lines in that movie about the need for faith, even if it was a bit self-serving in terms of Doris needing to believe in him after he had quit his job.

      I love the way it all ended up. Doris and Susan get over their coldness and learn to ease up a little. And then our hero at the end finds out that maybe he wasn’t such a great lawyer after all.

      William Frawley (Fred Mertz) is hilarious as the political consultant to the judge. You’ve got all these pragmatic wheels turning in the plot (it becomes politically expedient to suppose this guy is the real Santa Clause) and its all set on the backdrop of this seemingly harmless old man who thinks he is Kris Kringle, and just might be.

      Pragmatism or idealism? Do we anchor ourselves in the material or believe in something more. I like the way this movie is playful with this subject matter.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Hot Air had a piece today referencing an article in The New Republic on how an atheist deals with Christmas and Santa. The atheist mother said she simply told the truth to her children, and the Hot Air commenter was saddened by the lack of magic in the children’s life as a result. The connection to Miracle on 34th Street should be obvious.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Very interesting, Timothy. And perhaps I should write an exposition on how an agnostic deals with Christmas. (Hint: I love watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas carols….and not vapid tunes such as Frosty the Snowman but ones such as The Little Drummer Boy.)

          I re-watched “Miracle on 34th Street” yesterday….partly because I love that movie and partly because Mr. Kung showed my memory about it to be so faulty.

          My favorite scene from that movie is this one between Fred and Doris:

          Fred: If you believe in me and have faith in me, everything will . . . You don’t have any faith in me, do you?

          Doris: It’s not about faith. It’s just common sense.

          Fred: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. It’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness, joy, love, and all the other intangibles.

          Doris: Fred, you’re talking like a child. You’re living in a realistic world! Those lovely intangibles aren’t worth much. You don’t get ahead that way.

          Fred: That all depends on what you call getting ahead. Evidently, we have different definitions.

          Doris: We’ve talked about wonderful plans. Then you go on an idealistic binge. You give up your job, throw away your security, and then you expect me to be happy about it!

          Fred: Yes, I guess I expected too much. Someday, you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.

          Volumes could be said about the above. But suffice it to say that it is Fred who has his head screwed on straight and Doris who is the model for the disillusioned atheist/materialist.

          Another things strikes me about this movie that I had never noticed before. It was never suggested or implied that Fred believed that Kris Kringle was Santa Claus. He was (perhaps in the words of Susan) just helping a nice old man. But later in the film, Fred says this:

          He needs me, and all the rest of us need him.

          Was Fred speaking metaphorically or just in general? It didn’t seem so at the time. It’s an interesting movie in that one of the prime themes is faith in the intangibles. And yet, for all we know, Fred doesn’t for a moment believe that Kris is who he says he is. And then that slips out. I just thought that was interesting.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            My interpretation would be that initially he was only helping a nice man who didn’t deserve what was being done to him (no doubt out of his idealistic tendency), but over time he probably began to think Kris really was telling the truth.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              “but over time he probably began to think Kris really was telling the truth.”

              Especially in the closing scene. At the very least, it would appear that Fred begins to entertain the thought something more than meets the eye is/has taken place.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Yes, without question, when he sees that cane leaning near the fireplace, Fred isn’t so sure that he was just a nice old man. I love the ambiguity. This, to my mind, is a well-written story. And the doctor’s response to Kris’ gift is very much in keeping with this picture. It’s not proof just because Kris is a very nice guy who can seemingly get anything done, but it’s damn suggestive.

                And Porter Hall plays a memorable villain as the HR bureaucrat from hell. This movie takes a nice shot at the over-psychologizing of society, often by people who have no business doing so…especially those with advanced degrees. And this was all the way back in 1947.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Real or fake? Or somewhere in between?

              Here’s an interesting note from the trivia section about this movie at IMDB.com:

              According to Natalie Wood’s biographer, during the shoot, the young actress was convinced that Edmund Gwenn was actually Santa Claus (by all accounts, Gwenn was a very good-natured man on the set). It wasn’t until Wood saw him out of costume at the wrap party that she realized he wasn’t Santa.

              Or was he? . . .

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It occurs to me that one interesting aspect of the movie is that so many people act purely out of pragmatism. The head of Macy’s very likely doesn’t care whether Kris really is Santa, but he knows that customers love him and therefore he’s good for business. (I do appreciate a businessman coming off as a good guy.) He may also be sensible enough to be skeptical about the bitter, hyper-cynical psychologist (or psychiatrist. The prosecutor, the judge, and the judge’s political consultant are all motivated by the desire for political advantage.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          The power of self-interest.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The head of Macy’s very likely doesn’t care whether Kris really is Santa, but he knows that customers love him and therefore he’s good for business.

          Great point, Timothy.

          My take on that is that this movie was made before Cultural Marxism had fully taken hold. Mr. Kung just emailed me a story about a Washington State member of the House of Representatives (Democrat, of course) who called Arizona a “racist” state because of the Arizona Cardinals beating the Seahawks last weekend and breaking their 11 game home winning streak.

          This is how these kooks think. This was this guy’s honest and first reaction. These people really are the ones that Michael Savaging is talking about when he says that liberalism is a mental disorder.

          But back in 1947, not even Hollywood was yet so corrupted by the Marxists among us that they couldn’t show lovingly, and with just a bit of tongue planted in their cheek, the real world of business where, of course, everyone knew that one had to make a profit while serving their customers and doing a little image making. But, as they say with sausage and the law, you don’t necessarily want to see either of them being made.

          And part of charm of this movie is a fun and frank look behind the scenes in the highly competitive retail business. Three cheers for the executives of both Macy’s and Gimbels for allowing a little fun to be made at their expense. This was the day when people were not made so hyper-sensitive about everything because of the lunatic left. (We should flush all this politically correct “social justice” diversity nonsense right down the toilet.)

          I rather liked this aspect of the movie. It’s not idealizing business, nor is it taking a hatchet to it. It just shows normal people fulfilling their prospective roles in a straightforward and rather honest fashion….even if none of them actually believed this guy was Santa Klaus, and even if both parties in this transaction (customer and store owner) were playing the image game, more concerned with perception than reality (as if they ever could be cleanly disconnected). Such is life. Or, as Mr. Kung rightly notes, the power of self-interest. It’s funny how that can work out well for everyone.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “An annotated edition pointed to his “more of gravy than of grave” to indicate that there was more to him than pure miserliness.”

    I had always thought this and a couple other gastronomic references were indications of Scrooge’s initial belief that Marley’s Ghost was more likely the result of indigestion rather than the supernatural.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, that’s correct. I’m watching the 1951 version even now.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I have to agree with you that the 1951 version is the best I have seen.

        I also think the musical version with Albert Finney as Scrooge was not bad. I particularly liked the scene where the man is dancing on Scrooge’s coffin and singing “Thank You Very Much”. Talk about dancing on one’s grave.

        Moving to another subject, I just finished watching “Pocket Full of Miracles” which I hadn’t seen for many many years. It is still a wonderful movie and Glenn Ford is outstanding in it. I believe Glenn Ford is very underrated.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I haven’t seen the Albert Finney version. Perhaps I should do so.

          But I did just finish the 1951 black-and-white version starring Alastair Sim.

          There are strengths and weaknesses to this version. The strengths are numerous, the weaknesses but a few.

          The strengths include simply being shot in black and white, and being shot well. This movie looks good. And the black-and-white is suitably creepy and foreboding.

          Alastair Sim, of course, is wonderful in this role. I will dare to say that no one has even come close to playing his Scrooge-iness and making it look both harsh and believable. This is the gold standard.

          The only flaw in the movie is that it loses some pacing during the Ghost of Christmas Future segment. It spends way too much time on the scene where Scrooge’s stolen clothes and things are being sold. The movie was building so well and then this scene just put some grease on the tracks.

          Also, I will say that I think George C. Scott and the 1984 version do the post-Scrooge phase better than I’ve ever seen. The 1951 version is slightly anti-climatic in this regard. Perhaps this isn’t so much a fault of the 1951 version as it is the extraordinary acting and artistry of the 1984 version. And in that version, I think David Warner is also a vastly superior Cratchit.

          And it’s been a while since I read the Dickens. But every story seems to nuance things a bit differently, especially in regards to the Ghost of Christmas Past. That’s when you really learn about Ebenezer and get the back-story. And, again, it seems to me that the George C. Scott version excels at this, although the 1951 version is good as well.

          But I think the 1984 version makes more sense. In the 1951 version, the turn from nice, young Scrooge to workaholic Scrooge is abrupt. Perhaps it’s following closely the original Dickens story. I don’t know. But Scrooge’s sister dies (the only person, he said, who ever loved him) and he immediately changed.

          In the George C. Scott story (if memory serves), his journey to Scroogedom (and away from the affections of his fiancé) was more gradual and made much more sense, and was much more tragic.

          But see them both. Why not? And I don’t think I’ve seen “Pocketful of Miracles.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I think the idea is that it shows a certain sense of humor and imagination, to phrase his doubt that way. There was a similar comment regarding his earlier imaginative idea of how to punish those saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone else.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You can download the text of “A Christmas Carol” for free on your Kindle (or Android tablet) from Amazon.com. I’ve done so. I might re-read this just to get the story direct from the author. There are indeed some great lines throughout it, and most of the adaptations include much of it verbatim. It’s hard to improve on Dickens.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One reviewer at IMDB.com wrote this, which I think is quite clever and quite worth sharing:

    In the interest of “equal time”, let me say that I’ve always thought of Scrooge as starting out as a liberal who was shown the error of his ways:

    * He believes that government programs, not private charity are the proper means to help those in need.

    * He persists in this belief even after it is pointed out that those programs actually leave many of the poor worse off.

    * When his nephew expresses a desire to help the poor and work for the betterment of mankind, Scrooge doesn’t suggest that he open a business and hire some of the poor or start a private philanthropic foundation. Nope, he suggests that he go into government.

    * He is concerned about overpopulation and its relationship to poverty.

    * He is the first known example of an employer who insisted that his employees not use the politically incorrect greeting “Merry Christmas”.

    After that introduction, he is reformed through the efforts of Jacob Marley and three other spirits, all of whom appear to be right-wing extremists. They all press him for personal action, and none suggest that he lobby for more government programs. In fact, the Ghost of Christmas Present even reiterates that existing government programs only add to the misery of the poor! The spirits have plenty to say about important things that Scrooge should have done and should be doing, but “paying higher taxes” is nowhere on their list. Clearly, they believe in “trickle-down economics”–conservative nut cases, one and all.

    In the end, he decides for himself that he should help Crachit’s family, an early example of a private sector initiative, without government mandates or regulations. And, despite all of the personal expenses he incurs, he still never tries to make “helping the poor” a government project (financed by raising taxes on someone else, of course).

    Oh, and he also allows his employees to start saying “Merry Christmas” again. Obviously, he has a lot to learn about diversity.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Not the same article, but the same basic point made in the column that linked Dickens to Adam Smith as opposed to Thomas Malthus.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yes, I see.

        I’d have to re-read the whole Dickens story from scratch to see if this fellow has all his points right. But here are a few things to take note of.

        + Despite his harsh rhetoric, Mr. Scrooge did not abuse the poor. He did not kick them in the streets. He did not even cheat his employees, although one would suppose he was paying less than the average wage for any given job.

        In our day, all is image so we must not lose sight of the fact that many who have little sympathy for “the poor” do them a great deal of good by running a successful business. And those who profess a great deal of sympathy for “the poor” often do them a great deal of harm.

        + It is not stated in this story why the poor are poor. Much of the problem with modern “poverty” programs is that they have only one lens through which to see the poor: economics. But in a wonderful book, “The Tragedy of American Compassion,” it is pointed out that, in up to 90% of cases, “the poor” are poor because of addiction to alcohol or drugs. What most “poor” need is instruction in the good habits of how to make your way in the world. But much of “poverty” programs are simply little more than releasing “the poor” from any responsibility for themselves and act instead as an indictment of our free society. That is, the very means and habits the work best for raising people out of poverty are demonized as the problem.

        + It wasn’t three atheists or social workers who were sent to set Scrooge spiritually right. It was three Spirits of a Christian God.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Maureen O’Hara is the last surviving principal star from “Miracle on 34th Street.” She’s now living relatively nearby, in Boise, Idaho. Here’s an interesting recent article on her.

    Here’s the house that appeared in the movie, “Miracle on 34th Street”, which is actually 24 Derby Road, Port Washington, NY. The interior scenes were filmed elsewhere.

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