Bailout for Santa Claus?

The following originally was published December 22 by Grand Junction’s Free Press.

Would Santa Claus plead for a bailout?

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

For this week’s column we submit the following letter that we suspect fell out of Santa’s sleigh on one of his pre-Christmas runs.

Dear Mr. President and the Congress,

You’ve all written me many “Dear Santa” letters, asking me to fulfill your every childhood dream. I did try to give you something meaningful each year, though many of you made the naughty list more often than I would have liked.

Now it’s my turn to write you a letter. It pained me to have to hire my first American lobbyist a few years ago, Edgerton the Elf. Edgerton is a good elf, but I’m afraid he’s been caught up in the bailout frenzy currently sweeping your lovely little country.

Edgerton pleaded with me to write you a letter asking for my own bailout. Can you imagine — a bailout for Santa Claus! Well, why not? It seems like everyone else is asking for a bailout on somebody else’s dime. Why not me?

I am delighted to take this opportunity to explain why I oppose all bailouts.

You may wonder why I sent my elf Edgerton to Washington. It is unfortunate, shameful, even, that so many Americans treat lobbying as the practice of gaining other people’s money or political advantages over their competitors.

My sole interest in keeping a lobbyist is frankly to protect myself from you. Take labor. My elves are perfectly happy to work for me, and those who wish to work elsewhere are free to do so. (I’m delighted that several of my former employees made it big in Hollywood.) Our employment arrangement is properly between us.

Yet some Americans, in a misguided desire to protect their own industries, keep trying to export the crazy American labor laws that go far beyond protecting the right to freely associate. These laws instead artificially boost the wages of some at the expense of consumers and other workers. This is among the reasons your auto producers now face the possibility of bankruptcy.

In the auto industry, executives and union members alike now want to force other Americans to hand over their money, at the cost of surrendering yet more autonomy to politicians. After all, Washington bailed out various banks and lined other pockets, so why not car makers, too?

You don’t need Rudolph’s nose to see where this is headed. If people who declare to be in need are able to take by political force the wealth of others, then more will figure out how to become needy, and those paying the bills will wonder why they continue to work so hard. They will even wonder why they shouldn’t just throw in the mufflers and sign up for their share of the loot.

I’ve been around long enough to see what happens to countries that follow this course to its logical conclusion. It is the ugly spectacle of everybody trying to steal from everybody else, first under color of law, by other means later on.

Ah, but aren’t I the most famous bringer of free gifts? Perhaps. But notice that they are mine to give. I have the resources and ability to do it, and I deeply enjoy it, traveling the world and keeping up with the world’s children.

Also notice that I give gifts based on niceness. What is the essence of naughtiness? Here are a couple examples. This past year, little Jed from downtown — you know who you are — punched Jamie in the face for no good reason. And Steve from Fruita stole a candy bar from the market.

Naughtiness comes in many forms, but the sort I’m most concerned with is hurting other people and stealing from them, whether by force or through lies. So, I’m sorry to say, most of you politicians have made my naughty list big time this year. Taking people’s things by force doesn’t become nice just because you vote on it. Giving away things that don’t belong to you isn’t “playing Santa Claus.”

I know you’ve been shoveling the smelly reindeer stuff about this, pretending you’re doing it to “stimulate” the economy. The only things you’ve been stimulating are the special interests and your reelection coffers. It turns out that people don’t feel very stimulated when they keep less of what they earn and see that dissipate in inflation.

If you really want to help people, then quit being naughty. Quit giving some the ability to impose their will on others through force. Protect people’s rights to lead their own lives and interact with others by mutual consent.

Now I hope you’ll excuse me, as there’s purple smoke billowing from one of my work rooms. Remember you have free will, and it’s up to you to move from the naughty list to nice. I’ve always found that to be a big part of Christmas wonder. Now, to all a good night.

Santa Claus