The books main moral theme has to do with the importance of helping others when no one is able to do so, the feeling of empathy. Ever since he was a young man, Scrooge has placed more importance on his own self- interest. In fact, his love of money chased away the on1e love of his life and his greed is ultimately what made him be the person he was. I compare the Scrooge to the Enron leaders merely for the fact that the love of money is ultimately what brings the downfall of Scrooge as a person and Enron as a company. When he was visited by the ghost of Marley, his former business associate, Marley tries to impress upon how important it is to help others while he can. Helping others is the only way to decrease the length and weight of the chains he is under by his inflicted self interest. Marley’s ghosts: “I wear the chain I forged in life, replied the ghost. I made it link by link, and yard by yard, I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?” I interpreted this quotation as the foreshadow of what will happen to Scrooge if he doesn’t change his attitude and the way he is. His own self-interest will ultimately be what keeps his chains growing until he is in his own little circle away from anyone. I associate this place as a dark and evil place where egoism has taken over the world and all you are left with is yourself, your family members, and close friends have gotten tired of your egoistic thoughts and therefore have disappeared. The three spirit-guides, along with each of their tales, carry out a thematic function.
The Ghost of Christmas Past, with his glowing head represents memory. The Ghost of Christmas Present represents charity, empathy, and the Christmas spirit; and the reaper-like Ghost of Christmas yet to come, represents the fear of death. Scrooge with his “Bah Humbug” attitude, embodies all that dampens Christmas spirit greed, selfishness, indifference, and a lack of consideration for one’s fellow man. Memory serves to remind Scrooge of a time when he still felt emotionally connected to other people, before he closed himself off in an austere state of alienation. Empathy enables Scrooge to sympathize with and understand those less fortunate than himself such as; Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit. The fear of death hints at imminent moral reckoning, the promise of punishment and reward. These are the steps we see Scrooge take in his transformation, we see the term egoism begin to diminish more and more as each ghost tries to convince Scrooge to fight against his egoistic thoughts. I pictured each stave as an illusion for the chains getting less heavy and dull and Scrooge’s background begin to lighten up as we progress through the story. In my opinion, by the end of the story we see more people involved in his life than there were in the beginning. In this sense, I feel that all the ghosts stories that have been told have disappeared because of Scrooge’s transformation and that all the stories would have only happened if Scrooge countunited with his own self-interest the same way we saw in the beginning of the story. Based on the texts we’ve read this semester, what would you say are the shortcomings of the idea of homo economicus? Do these shortcomings indicate that we should reject the idea, and if so, with what should we replace it?
Most social scientists believe that human behavior is often unpredictable and convoluted. Economist, however, use a model of human behavior called homo economicus, which is embedded with perfect rationality, self-interest, and knowledge. This is the conclusion of a statement that I was able to put together and reading homo economicus from an economics majors stand point like myself. Beside the obvious fact that humans are not perfect, the model suffers from other basic problems in my personal opinion. Humans are ultimately driven by self-interest, but at the same time there are certain things that people do that aren’t for the mere interest of themselves, but actually in order to help someone else. A good way to look at this is the ghost in a Christmas carol, they ultimately were focusing on helping other people like the Scrooge in order for him not to end up like the ghost and solely only do everything for the interest of himself. In the model, the criticism that comes into my mind is charity, volunteerism, and joining the military.
All of these examples represent there are people who do not try to solely empower their decisions because it benefits them the most. The reason I believe why economist use a flawed system as homo economicus is because it makes their economic analysis manageable and allows them to generate results that confirm their ideas. This system is manageable because economists study human behavior in a given market. So, while this model does have its criticism, there is also plenty to support why economist use this model in order to explain human behavior in markets and certain business. This is supported by Friedman, “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profit”. Friedman’s thesis as discussed in our class can be concluded as, “the social responsibility of business is to maximize profit for the shareholders”. This is supported by homo economics because it assumes that everything people do is for their own material gain, therefore, businesses having the responsibility of gaining profits no matter what the costs are exactly why economist agree with their model. Another way to picture this model is by the society’s survival strategy. Scientists have agreed that humans compete for limited resources like jobs and money. Those with more resources are able to compete better and survive longer than someone who lacks this.
This is the same model that can be viewed with business as a whole. Enron would not be the company they are now without the leaders of Enron purposely acting on their own self-interest of profit. One of Friedman’s argument that we must take into account with our economic view of egoism is that he says, “A corporate executive has no expertise in carrying out social responsibilities” “he is presumably an expert in running his company- in producing a product or selling it or financing it. But nothing about his selections makes him an expert on “how to fulfill social responsibilities”. Therefore, his only goal is to make sure he makes enough profit to fulfill his self-interested goals and then maybe consider what the rest of the world thinks. The five economic goals: full employment, stability, economic growth, efficiency, and equity are widely considered to be beneficial and worth pursuing. Each goal achieved by itself improves the overall well-being of society. Therefore, by people acting only upon self-interest they are actually achieving the social responsibilities to by helping other people in the society. The more a company makes in profit the more expansion will be put forth, so there will be equal employment for everyone. Therefore, from an economic standpoint we view that anything is rational as long as the benefits outweigh the costs.
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