Senator Richard “Ebenezer” Shelby of Alabama…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 15, 2008

Yeah, yeah… I know it’s kind of a short-cut to call on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for a December editorial comic. But, hey, at least give me credit for using one of the lesser known bits — near the beginning when the two do-gooder portly gentlemen pay Mr. Scrooge a visit on Christmas Eve taking donations for the poor. Scrooge seethes at the duel impertinence of interrupting his work and expecting alms for undeserving wretches. He draws them in with a cold but civil, “Are there no prisons?” The gentlemen are caught off guard but remain sincere and try to explain themselves further. Then Scrooge begins to cut them to pieces with a brutally sarcastic “And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?” eventually finishing them off with the more quoted, “If they would rather die… they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population,” which of course later comes back to haunt him …literally.

Part of my affection for these quotes is that around Christmastime my father, when asked for the smallest of favors — say, “can I borrow a dollar?” would reply in a bad English accent, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” It made him laugh. And if I actually had a good reason, I generally got the dollar….

My favorite Scrooge: George C Scott, 1984. What’s yours?


  1. Tyler said,

    December 27, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

    Bill Murray in Scrooged. Although I have to go with George C Scott.

  2. Kris said,

    January 2, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

    I would like to suggest a version with Alan Rickman – he would be snide and malicious and sarcastic and wonderful!

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