NEWS

Dan Naumovich: Hey, Santa: We're a little short on cash

Dan Naumovich

Santa Claus is one of the most treasured figures of all time. This magnanimous soul travels the globe delivering presents to girls and boys while filling them with wonderment and joy. It really is a lovely bit of folklore.

Unfortunately, Santa also fills children with unrealistic expectations. So in these times of economic woe, it might be best to throw a little cold water on all that good cheer.

The Clausian Plausibility Principle is a little-known economic theory that I just made up. It explains the adverse effect that the Santa myth has on families trying to maintain strict budgetary controls at the end of the fiscal year. The guy wears red for a reason.

In theory, Santa is immune from market forces. He has an abundance of cheap labor at his disposal, and the North Pole is rich in natural resources from which to make everything from high-end electronics to wooden hobby horses. Fluctuating oil prices aren’t an issue, so delivery costs remain negligible, just the cost of oats and whatever they’re paying Coach Comet (I doubt he makes much).

So why wouldn’t our children circle every other item in the Toys R Us catalog; it’s basically a free lunch, as long as we buy into the myth.

Of course I don’t want to shatter my children’s precious beliefs by revealing that Santa is a well-intentioned hoax. They just need to understand that he’s subject to the same fiscal constraints that we all are. And to do this, we must call on our elected leaders.

If the Obama administration really wants to help working families out of a perilous predicament, he’d focus recovery efforts on something more immediate.

To temper expectations this holiday season, the president should have Federal Reserve

Chairman Ben Bernanke don the suit and make like Santa. Then, in a nationally televised Saturday morning address, he could figuratively take the country’s children upon his knee and explain how the collapse of the subprime mortgage market produced a rippling effect that has slowed production at the North Pole to a trickle, which will result in lower-than-expected distribution of goods this year. Ho-ho-ho!

Immediately following the Bernanke address, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, perhaps dressed as Ebenezer Scrooge, would announce that despite repeated demands that Santa is too big to fail, the government would not commit to bailing out his struggling operations with TARP funds. And then he’d throw it back to SpongeBob SquarePants, who will have his work cut out for him.

So you see, I’m not suggesting we dispatch with old Saint Nick, just rein in him in a bit to curb his free-spirited spending. Our kids will find out soon enough who’s really funding all that extravagance beneath the Christmas tree.

Maria, my oldest child, told me that doubts about Santa’s existence have been circulating in class 4B at Little Flower School, but as for herself, she still believes. The reason she gave is because she really wants an iPod Touch for Christmas, and she doesn’t think I can afford to buy her one so she’s placing her faith in that right jolly old elf.

What Maria doesn’t know is that I’m not too miserly to buy her an iPod Touch. In fact, I already have (she never reads my stuff, so the secret is safe). What I’d also like her to know is that because she’s getting a pricey present, her overall gift count may go down, but that is no reflection on Santa’s/my love for her.

This could be Maria’s last Christmas believing in Santa, and that makes me even sadder than looking at credit card statements. When you get right down to the bottom line, I’d be more than willing to shell out for another year or two of childlike wonderment and joy.

We won’t be needing the government to fix this one after all.

State Journal-Register contributor Dan Naumovich is a freelance writer and business copywriter. He can be reached atdan@naumo.com.