BACKTRACKING

 

Santa in the Global Economy

 

by Terry Hogan

 

It has been a tough year of transition for Santa.  He had to "go with the flow".  It was hard on him, hard on the elves, and especially hard on the reindeer.  But Santa had to compete; to keep down the overhead; to make ends meet.  With demand being high, and the aging and ever-more expensive elves, he had no choice.

 

Santa first brought in the elves and broke the news to them.  He was going to be unable to continue to use their services.  But, as they were his true and loyal long-term employees, he was offering an early retirement program, with medical insurance.  They could, and in fact, must, vacate the company housing and move to warmer climates.  The elves, seeing the writing in the snow (some said it was in yellow), agreed to early retirement and signed the contract not to sue Santa for age discrimination and not to say disparaging statements publicly about Santa, the workshop, or in all other such matters relating to the working conditions and the treatment of "little people" of the North Pole.     

 

The elves packed up and moved to Florida.  They bought Lincoln town cars with booster seats and terrorized the tourists by taking right turns from the center lane and left turns from the right lane.  After all, there wasn't that much traffic at the North Pole where they refined their driving habits.

 

But it wasn't long before they began to receive letters from their retirement trust that raised monthly medical contributions and reduced coverage of both medical and drug plans.  Before long, the Lincolns were being replaced with used Metros.  They soon took part-time jobs, ironically, as Santa's elves at the shopping malls.  It was almost more than they could stand.

 

Next Santa met with the reindeer.  As they were not covered by a union and PETA appeared not to care for any northerly animals beyond baby seals, Santa was able to terminate his relationship with the deer in a very cost-effective manner.  Soon Santa opened up his Internet homepage:  santasvenison.com.  Santa offered home delivery of  frozen venison steak for Christmas dinner.  It was shipped by jet for overnight delivery.  After all, the sleigh was now nothing more than a museum piece.   The venison sold so well, that he was forced to import illegal aliens to hunt wild reindeer to meet the demand.  Quality wasn't an issue as the FDA never bothered to check imported meat.   As the venison was quick frozen by Mother Nature, it minimized overhead. Santa paid the immigrants less than minimum wage; charged them rent for the use of the former elf-housing; and even sold them ammunition at a significant markup.    

 

But Santa still had to meet the demands for goods on Christmas morning.  Few global companies did their entire business in one day, even though it was actually two days, given the International Date Line.  Boy, he liked the International Date Line.

 

So, Santa hired a good international contract law firm and started placing orders for Christmas gifts from China.  By buying in great bulk, he drove the prices down, and had the Chinese ship directly to chimneys by means of old Russian Migs that China could buy for a few cents on the dollar.  Santa also contracted out the manufacture of electronics and copyrighted movies, music, and printed material to countries in Asia that were not particularly concerned about such things.  Santa adopted the policy of "don't ask, don't tell".  He was able to get DVDs at only 27 cents apiece of all recently released movies, although sometimes there were typos in the titles and misspellings in the small print, such as the names of the starring actors. 

 

Santa wasn't concerned about those ugly rumors of lead paint used by the Chinese in some of the children's toys.  He took action immediately.  He had the Chinese add after-production labels to the toys, stating they were lead-free.  The cost of the labels was minimal.  And after all, actual testing for lead in Chinese laboratories would be of questionable value anyway, he rationalized. 

 

With this sudden dramatic decrease in cost, Santa found himself awash with available cash.  He named himself President, CEO, Chairman of the Board, and CFO.  After consulting with himself, he unanimously awarded himself a three billion dollar bonus and use of a custom-designed corporate jet.  On each side of the fuselage, it bore the copyrighted logo "Santa's Toy".

 

Santa also awarded himself an ice-breaker yacht, equipped with a heliport.  On the stern of this snow-white yacht, in red candy-cane paint (of course), appeared the name "Santa's Toy Too".

 

Despite all the money and the luxury, Santa was sad.  He missed the companionship of the elves, who now only wrote to complain about reduced retirement benefits, and the reindeer that were no longer around to complain about anything. 

 

But Santa knew what to do.  He married a trophy bride. She was none other than Snow White.  She too had been lonely after selling off the seven dwarfs into involuntary servitude. They were last seen removing asbestos off of old steam-powered yachts that had become popular with the newly rich. 

 

When Santa was confronted from time-to-time by media concerning his harsh treatment of his former loyal elves and reindeer, he would point out that it was not his fault.  It was the unavoidable consequence of the globalization of the marketplace.  There would, by necessity, be winners and losers in the short-term, as the marketplace readjusted.  But he assured the media, that in the long-term, all would be better served by the more economical marketplace. 

 

With that, he and Snow White would board "Santa's Toy Too" and a computerized "Ho, Ho, Ho!" would blare out on the Bose "knock off" speakers discretely placed in the reindeer heads mounted along the top deck of the yacht.  The deer head on the bow had an oddly bright red nose, powered by long lasting (and cheap) red light emitting diodes.  

 

If you hear a low flying jet on Christmas Eve, do not fear. It will not be Santa in “Santa’s Toy”. Santa will likely be in the South Pacific on his private island, with Snow White. Instead, the noise will more likely be a direct flight from China:  the lowest bid pilot, flying the lowest priced Mig, following a Google map.   

 

A Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.