The View From Olympus 19: All I Want for Christmas Is…

(Note: I have prevailed upon my esteemed friend and long-time mentor Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge to write this guest column. I am happy to be able to report that he is entirely recovered from the fit of madness that so evidently over took him toward the end of Mr. Dickens’ book, and is once again the man of sense he always was. His advice is not to be lightly regarded. – William S. Lind)


It is not my habit to desire anything, other than money. As some of your New England people, more sensible than the common lot of you colonials, like to say, “It sure is funny, the things a lot of damn fools would rather have, than money.”

There is nonetheless one thing I will undoubtedly “want” for Christmas, as your feeble Democracy wants it, that would fill my coffers and yours. That is, on the part of your government, a recourse to reality. Or, as your time, ignorant of the English language, would say it, “realism.”

Even to one as jaded as I, it is astonishing the degree to which your “people’s representatives” (representatives rather of banks, their one redeeming feature) have entered into a realm of Fantasy, little short of madness. They conceive themselves dictators to the world, ordering life in Africa, in Asia, among the benighted worshipers of Mahomet and in the domains of the Tsar of Russia. Your coffee-house gazettes report this very week that an Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland – if women now have the direction of your foreign office, it is no wonder the inhabitants of Bedlam have loosed their chains – was giving sandwiches to rioters in the city of Kiev, encouraging them to overthrow their lawful government! Is there no impudence these busybodies will not indulge? We shall hear shortly, no doubt, that they are ordering the planets to cease revolving in their courses, and the men on the moon to do handsprings.

It is cant, and humbug, all of it. Let America mind her own affairs, which I understand are not in the very best order. She, and I, might profit handsomely from it.

A recourse to reality would profit the world as well in the realm of military matters. There, too, your country has overspread the globe, quartering soldiers on virtually every other nation, where they are as welcome as quartered soldiers ever are. Tasked with fighting the natives your foreign office meddlers would command, they have lately found fortune not to attend their cause. Equipt though they are with fantastical weapons, flying machines, bastions that move themselves across the land, muskets that fire a multitude of shots on a single pull, they have nonetheless been bested by ragged followers of the Prophet, who in my time would have been swept away as chaff in tempest. Yet from their ignominious withdrawals your Soldiers and Marines learn nothing, telling themselves rather that they are the greatest military in all of history, greater than King Frederick’s regiments, greater even than the legions of Caesar! Bah! Humbug, high humbug! Pride, and the Fall cometh, or rather hath come, but been overlooked.

Overlooked most of all by your regiments’ paymasters, who pour unfathomable sums, hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars, into the coffers of persons who promise, but do not deliver. (My word, you will recall, was ever good upon Change; so affirms Mr. Dickens.) Were your dollars worth aught but the value of their paper, Heaven itself would be astonished at the profligacy of your Congress!

There, more even than in your Foreign Policy and your Defence, is a recourse to reality essential, lest profit become a mere memory, and loss and misery overwhelm all. Your money is supported only by the power of the presses, presses running hot night and day printing ever more banknotes. Do your authorities imagine such policy has never been seen before? Or that its consequence was universal wealth, as money replaced tallow for illumination, because it was yet cheaper to burn? Gold, Sir, and Silver, are money, and nought else!

More, and worse, through this Alchemy of paper into money, your oeconomy, as you call it, is now made up to the extent of no less than one-third of “financials,” which are mere numbers in ledger-books, representing no goods! Do your authorities conceive such fraud can continue forever, that no-one will enquire what these sums represent, and demand their goods? And what happens when they do? The South Sea Bubble will appear modest in comparison, as will the Depression which followed upon its Bursting.

I could add, at extended length, upon your Debt, which already vast, grows yet apace. Only a fool, Sir, indulges in debt, and pays interest! Interest is what a wise man, or a wise nation, collects, just as a wise nation’s policies follow upon its interest, and not Fancies. There were times for me, as careful and prudent a man as you will find, when an investment proved unhappy, and I suffered bitter loss – Oh! how bitter, as my bony hands found fewer coins in my coffer, to fondle and to love. But I paid on time, Sir, on my word, wear a barrel though I must. And compared, Sir, to debtors, I was a happy man.

I have no doubt this and all advice toward prudence, and caution, and oeconomy in all measures, and demanding,on the part of those who pay public monies, performance and goods, will be discarded, as naught but the saying of Old Scrooge, I am told that “realism” is that sole matter that is not for sale in your Capital of Washington City, and that may be, though to be sure all else is. What more is to expect, from “Democracy,” whose motto is Vox Plebi, Vox Dei, and whose product is Confusion? But ye have been warned. It is Nature’s invariable principle, that a recourse to reality will be made, volens nolens. On the Christmas when that Ghost comes to visit, it shall not depart.