A Dickens of a time?

No time better. And US economist Tim Taylor has been the guide.

That Christmas Carol of Charles Dickens, a customary seasonal read, not to mention the essential viewing of Alastair Sim’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. Both a now a tradition.

Those impelled to follow the commercial gospel of ‘Shop till you drop!’ may have had little time to contemplate the, if not religious, spiritual significance of the season. Such, in their frenetic pursuits, will have missed life, in its various forms of emptiness and despair, around them. Of course, for some these same unfortunates their own bill may soon come due.

Thus, today is better than any to do an accounting. And we go back in time. Charles Dickens would recount a stroll with a friend one winter’s night in London, A NIGHTLY SCENE IN LONDON. One telling excerpt,

Crouched against the wall of the Workhouse,
in the dark street, on the muddy pavement-
stones, with the rain raining upon them, were
five bundles of rags. They were motionless,
and had no resemblance to the human form.
Five great beehives, covered with ragsfive
dead bodies taken out of graves, tied neck
and heels, and covered with ragswould
have looked like those five bundles upon
which the rain rained down in the public
street.

What is this! ” said my companion. “What is this!”

Some miserable people shut out of the
Casual Ward, I think,” said I.

Times have since changed. Roads are paved. Smart phones abound. And the poverty and destitution, though not as dire, ignored by policy makers, is made invisible or the victims’ fault by a cooperative corporate media that ensure that their distractions make the problem disappear.

Kindness is no sign of weakness, of human frailty.

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