Posted by: goodgoat | 14 August, 2011

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

The riots in the UK in the last week have put Goodgoat in mind of A Christmas Carol and the conversation with Scrooge:

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

I am very worried by the retributive justice being recommended by politicians and also by some who see the young people involved in the riots as “beyond redemption” – can they not see that there is only a small step from this to the “Final Solution” offered by the Nazi Party in WWII? What do they think people who are denied “Benefit” (and this is really “very basic income”) will do when they have no income and nowhere to live – say “thank you for teaching me a lesson, I’m of no use to society, I’ll just go over here into a corner and never bother you again”? I doubt it somehow.

I don’t know what the answer is but this needs careful thought, not instantaneous vote-winning retribution.



  1. (The book was great but the Muppets were the best interpretation!)

    However — I tell everyone we need objective root-cause analysis coupled with the political will to act on the results (however politically unacceptable).
    It won’t happen.
    If it won’t happen then obviously the “democratic” systems we have are wrong; so there’s a need to make ‘the good of the country’ more important than garnering votes for politicians. No?

    Until then we are stuck with it, and trust me in this, it will get worse.

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