"...With regard to the picture 'It's a Wonderful Life', [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.
"In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn't have 'suffered at all' in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and 'I would never have done it that way.'"
(Memo to J. Edgar Hoover from D.M. Ladd, May 27, 1947)
Uncovered by Wise Bread
This would be one of those absurdities-of-the-past, had I not heard an interview on NPR Christmas Day in which the academic Michael Levin defended Ebenezer Scrooge and his descendents as misunderstood and much maligned free-market capitalists. Scrooge, he said, had done more good than harm to society; that if Cratchit were a worthwhile human being he would have been able to find better employment. "There can be no arguing with Dickens's wish to show the spiritual advantages of love. But there was no need to make the object of his lesson an entrepreneur whose ideas and practices benefit his employees, society at large, and himself."
Levin defends Scrooge's evocation of prisons and workhouses for the poor: "As Scrooge observes, he supports those institutions with his taxes. Already forced to help those who can't or won't help themselves, it is not unreasonable for him to balk at volunteering additional funds for their extra comfort.... The more pleasant the alternatives to gainful employment, the greater will be the number of people who seek these alternatives, and the fewer there will be who engage in productive labor. If society expects anyone to work, work had better be a lot more attractive than idleness." This last shows a want of historicity on Levin's part, and a willful ignorance of Victorian conditions. If it doesn't bother Scrooge, then why should it bother the poor?
The weird thing is, I can't tell if Levin is being ironic or not.
I would not so disdain believers in free-market capitalism, if only they could show me that the Invisible Hand truly existed. Only a naif or a collaborator still believes that the marketplace as it exists is truly free. The deck is stacked before the game has even started. Milton Freidman's is another God that Failed, but as it was in Soviet Russia, why should the house slaves in the brokerage houses admit that injustice exists, so long as they themselves feed well off the carcass?