A satirical look at the ever deepening financial crisis being felt around the world. (Written: December 2008)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Although surrounded by frozen wasteland, the North Pole has always been immune to cooling economic climates. Now, however, the world-wide financial crisis has reached into the icy expanse above the Arctic Circle.
Santa Claus Incorporated today announced plans to cut more than 20 percent of its elven work force, and nearly 25 percent of its flying reindeer staff. The cuts come less than two weeks before Christmas – traditionally Santa Claus’ busiest season – and were made in an effort to save money and streamline business operations, a North Pole spokesman said.
“Decades of increasing production and delivery costs, as well as steadily rising elf and reindeer wages and health care costs have compelled us to downsize our workforce,” said Yukon Cornelius.
As the job cuts were being announced, Kris Kringle, CEO of Santa Claus Incorporated, or SCI, appeared before the Congressional Subcommittee for Supercilious Affairs to request a nearly $250 billion corporate bail-out package.
During questioning by Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA), subcommittee chairman, Kringle claimed that Santa Claus stands in the growing shadow of a financial crisis.
“Without a substantial aid package from Congress, Santa Claus could very well cease to exist,” Kringle said. “We need an infusion of capital to sustain us while we re-vamp our operations.”
Frank pressed Kringle on the wisdom of his current business model and on repeated calls for cuts in management compensation.
“From time immemorial, we have provided toys to children around the world, in exchange for nothing more than good behavior, stale cookies, and warm milk,” Kringle said. “And, despite years of parental threats, we have never left a single child a lump of coal in their stocking. But, rising costs are forcing us to re-examine this generosity.”
“We must re-tool our plants and our workforce in order to produce toys more efficiently and at a lower cost, while at the same time, restoring the world’s faith in Santa Claus,” Kringle said.
The International Brotherhood of Elves quickly responded to the announcement of job cuts and Kringle’s statements before Congress.
“Despite decades of poor treatment by management, especially a lack of dental care, the Elves have offered SCI several contract give-backs in an effort to preserve jobs,” said a union leader who gave his name only as Hermey. “But, the problems at SCI extend far beyond our contract.”
“For years, SCI has been steadily cutting our workforce as they’ve outsourced more and more work to China and Korea in an effort to increase corporate profits. Unfortunately, toy quality has suffered and now consumers are turning to other sources for their Christmas gifts,” Hermey said.
Hermey cited SCI distribution of Chinese-manufactured toys containing lead-based paint as a primary factor in the decline in demand.
Representatives of the Federated Union of Reindeer could not be reached for comment.
At the White House, President George W. Bush said that he is watching the crisis closely.
“We must not misunderestimate this crisis,” Mr. Bush said. “If Santa Claus goes under, his suppliers and their employees will suffer as well.”
Several economic experts have warned that the ripples of SCI’s fall could spread globally; even as far as Hanukkah Harry Industries – the largest competitor of Santa Claus.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D – CA), Speaker of the House of Representatives, is among several members of Congress opposed to a bail-out of Santa Claus.
“This is not our crisis to solve…the North Pole is not U.S. territory and Mr. Kringle is not an American citizen,” Pelosi said. “He should petition Canada, Norway, or Russia; or perhaps even the United Nations for the emergency funding he needs.”
Kringle warns that without the bail-out funds, “Presents may not be delivered this Christmas Eve.”