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View Poll Results: Worst example of FIRE in A Christmas Carol
Ebenezer Scrooge 12 54.55%
Bob Cratchit 7 31.82%
Other 3 13.64%
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Poll:Worst FIRE example in A Christmas Carol
Old 12-01-2016, 09:55 AM   #1
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Poll:Worst FIRE example in A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" as a story of redemption, but he also tells a story about FIRE. The two primary (living) characters, Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, exemplify extremes of retirement done badly.

Scrooge, age 60-ish, is beyond FI but, absent the ghostly visits, is on a path to replicate Jacob Marley who died without ever retiring. He is entirely self-made; he is shrewd and works hard, staying at the office until late every night. He has always lived frugally, invested well, and now has the means to retire but not the inclination. His frugality is portrayed as callousness when he declines the opportunity to donate to a charity: "I don't make merry myself at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle people merry." OTOH, there was no FIREcalc then, so his spreadsheets may have shown he needed to stack another few half-crowns just to be sure.

Cratchit, age mid-40s, lives paycheck to paycheck, spending every farthing of his weekly 15 shillings on his large family. He has no savings, and is eager to bolt from w*rk the instant the closing bell rings. He dislikes his employer but stays on, perhaps because with his unimpressive work ethic might face difficulty finding another j*b. Dickens makes a point of showing the general shabbiness of the Cratchits, from their threadbare clothing to their cramped living quarters, despite Bob having been steadily employed in a solid, white-collar job for many years. However when Christmas rolls around they spare no expense on a grand feast. It is clear that without Scrooge's miraculous enlightenment, Cratchit also will die without ever be able to retire.

So, purely from an ER perspective, which of these two people presents a worse example? Scrooge, the perpetual OMYer, or Cratchit the non-LBYMer? Feel free to be as judgmental and/or humorous as you wish. You won't hurt their feelings, since they aren't real and would be long dead by now anyway. Yes, I know that in 1843 retirement wasn't on anybody's radar, but I'm trying to make an entertaining poll question.

Thank you in advance for your replies, and as Tiny Tim said, "God bless us, every one!"
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Old 12-01-2016, 10:15 AM   #2
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I would say the lesson is to emulate the author rather than the characters.

Dickens was worth 93,000 when he died in 1870. That would be many millions today.
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Old 12-01-2016, 10:17 AM   #3
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I vote for Scrooge solely because he is ill-tempered. I have no problems with OMYers if that's what it takes to make them happy, but clearly Scrooge is not happy. Similarly, the Cratchits are poor, but they are trying to be happy with their lot. I have a suspicion that Scrooge's nephew Fred will also be a bad risk for FIRE - he seems to throw way too many big parties but, since we aren't privy to his income, we don't know if he can afford it.

BTW, loved the characterization of Cratchit's work ethic, sounds like a LOT of bosses I know.
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Old 12-01-2016, 10:29 AM   #4
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I think the point about Bob Cratchet is that despite his labors he and his family were poor. They had one big celebration a year, Christmas. That was hardly a profligate lifestyle.
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Old 12-01-2016, 10:45 AM   #5
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Right, it was really a morality tale about an economy with huge disparity in incomes.
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Old 12-01-2016, 11:53 AM   #6
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ER is ultimately about being happy, or at least content. Cratchit seems happy with his life outside of work. Scrooge is not happy at all. I don't think piling up money at the expense of happiness, whether you ER or not, is healthy.
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Old 12-01-2016, 12:06 PM   #7
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The most creative poll in quite some time.
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Old 12-01-2016, 12:14 PM   #8
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You guys missed the point.

What got Scrooge so happy at the end? What did he start doing gleefully?

Blowing dough. Lots of dough. Doubling salaries and wages. Buying expensive presents. Providing expensive medical care.

The secret of happiness - Blow more Dough -
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Old 12-01-2016, 12:17 PM   #9
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The question posed is specifically "which is the worse example of FIRE".

Cratchit has no hope of retiring. The reasons for doing so are up for debate, as we don't see their budget or choices (as another poster pointed out, the main goal of the novel was to talk about differences in incomes).

Scrooge, while miserly, is obviously fiscally well-off. Regardless if we are happy playing games or volunteering or traveling, FIRE means you have the financial ability to retire from work. The acronym is "FIRE", not "FIREHAAC" (Financial Independence/Retire Early Happy As A Clam).

To me, it's quite obvious that Cratchit is the 'worse' example, since he could never hope to be an example of FIRE. Scrooge's personal enjoyment has little to do with it. As with many things in the universe, there are very few "absolute" extremes. Every one of the posters on the forum have some level of "asceticism". Some are more cheap SOB than others, and some are more frugal in the earlier years of their lives than later. Sure, I wouldn't want to be miserly like Scrooge - but obviously Scrooge has some level of satisfaction, or else he would be slaving away working 2 jobs to get more money to be more secure.
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Old 12-01-2016, 12:39 PM   #10
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In the beginning they were both pretty sorry candidates for retirement.

Cratchit was too broke and Scrooge was going to die at his desk no matter how much dough he had.

But after a few spirits fat raises were given, medical care was provided and a nice profit sharing plan implemented and all lived happily ever after.

So be sure you have a few spirits over the holidays too -
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Old 12-01-2016, 01:03 PM   #11
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I vote for Scrooge.
In his early years, Scrooge spent money on parties and had a good time. Over time he reached the point where his only solace was in accumulating more money.

I can understand Scrooge; I've often mentioned my late grandfather who was extremely wealthy but ended up sitting in his living room of his large house, watching TV in the dark in worn out clothes. (and do I have a great Christmas story about him for those interested)

Cratchit OTOH seemed like a sad-sack who just didn't have the b*lls to go find a better job. Many of us here had crappy jobs early in life and where we simply said "see ya later!" and found something that paid and was somewhat enjoyable. Stop whining Bob and get your thumb out of your....and do something for your family, you loser!

Being ill tempered should not stand in the way of being a good example of LBYM.
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Old 12-01-2016, 01:21 PM   #12
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I think it has to be Marley - he didn't end up in that great of a spot. js
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Old 12-01-2016, 01:39 PM   #13
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Definitely Fezziwig. A good boss, likes his job, treats his apprentices well, didn't care about his own profits. He will never save enough to retire.

Another bad example is Ebenezer's nephew Fred. He spends way too much on parties and gifts, and hires Peter at above market wages. No savings.

Scrooge finds redemption, and his changes save him and the Cratchit family ( although their sudden change in diet may be unhealthy). A textbook example of ER

The two characters I reference are destined to stay on the job 'til the end and never know the pleasures of retirement. As observers we are misled by their happiness. It's a red herring.
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Old 12-01-2016, 02:00 PM   #14
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Obviously, the worst example of FIRE is Tiny Tim. Slacker! Bah Humbug!
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Old 12-01-2016, 02:05 PM   #15
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Yeah, old Fezziwig really screwed up trying to compete with the "vested interests" they just drove him out of business and he didn't get a dime.

Everyone knows that you build up your company so you can sell it to Mega-Corp for megabucks.
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Old 12-01-2016, 02:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niven View Post
Obviously, the worst example of FIRE is Tiny Tim. Slacker! Bah Humbug!
sniffle
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Old 12-01-2016, 08:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
I've often mentioned my late grandfather... and do I have a great Christmas story about him for those interested
I love stories. I would be delighted to hear about your grandfather.
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Old 12-01-2016, 08:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdlerth View Post
I love stories. I would be delighted to hear about your grandfather.
I'll make it short to avoid thread hijacking.

I've recounted many stories here over the years about my granddad who was quite wealthy but very, very stingy.

Despite his wealth, at Christmas he'd give my father, mother, brother and me each an envelope with 5 one dollar bills in it. That was it. His big kick was that the bills were numbered sequentially. (Merry freakin' Christmas)

Luckily grandma would sneak out and buy us real gifts a bit more representative of their resources ("but don't tell your grandfather!")

Anyway, when my parents divorced and dad was no longer at home, that Christmas ol' granddad gave us our Christmas envelopes but now, instead of 5 one dollar bills, there were six! "You each got your dad's share...hahahaha"

Yep. He was a corker!
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Good old grandpa
Old 12-01-2016, 09:02 PM   #19
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Good old grandpa

Good story!

Perhaps I should start another thread about the most extreme penny pinchers we've ever known.
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