Defending the Miser

by Walter Block

The miser has never recovered from Charles Dickens’s attack on him in A Christmas Carol. Although the miser had been sternly criticized before Dickens, the depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge has become definitive and has passed into the folklore of our time. Indeed, the attitude pervades even in freshman economics textbooks. There the miser is roundly condemned and blamed for unemployment, changes in the business cycle, and economic depressions and recessions.

In the famous — or rather infamous — “paradox of savings,” young students of economics are taught that, although saving may be sensible for an individual or a family, it may be folly for the economy as a whole. The prevalent Keynesian doctrine holds that the more saving in an economy, the less spending for consumption, and the less spending, the fewer jobs.

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