Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bah Humbugging Scrooge's Economics

A thoughtful and fun article from Ryan McMaken at the Mises Institute yesterday makes for educational reading on Christmas.  His essay looks at the numerous economic errors Scrooge makes as he conducts his business in A Christmas Carol.  McMaken correctly points out that since Dickins did not make Scrooge a criminal, just a very wealthy, very unpleasant person, he must have provided value to his customers. This established, McMaken warms to his theme:
But as he is a person with bad manners and a disagreeable personality, many have conflated Scrooge’s personality traits with his business practices, although the two are unrelated phenomena. As a miser and businessman, Scrooge provides numerous valuable services to the community including, as Walter Block has shown, driving down prices and making liquidity available to those who, unlike the wrongly maligned misers, have been either unwilling or unable to save in comparable amounts.
His business prowess notwithstanding, however, a closer look at Scrooge’s economics suggests some significant blind spots in several areas. Scrooge, as displayed in many of his comments and observations, misunderstands some key economics concepts. Indeed, Scrooge’s ignorance in these areas may contribute to his bad habit of assuming that others are taking advantage of him, or are too foolish or lazy to attain what Scrooge has.