By Bud Koenemund
6 December 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Disassociated Press) – Though surrounded by frozen wasteland, the North Pole has long 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 three 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.
In an additional statement, SCI revealed the mortgage for Santa's workshop is underwater – the sale value of the workshop and surrounding property is worth less than the amount remaining on the mortgage.
"SCI tried to re-finance this loan, but property values this far north have never been high, and it's difficult to make mortgage payments when you give away toys for free," said Cornelius.
As the job cuts were being announced, Kris Kringle, CEO of Santa Claus Incorporated, appeared before the Joint 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 admitted 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.
Committee member Senator Joe Lieberman (I – CT) questioned Kringle regarding the status of his mortgage.
"Years ago, Chase – aware of our business model; our limited collateral and earning potential – approved our loan. They assured SCI real estate prices would continue to rise, and that there would always be more money available," Kringle claimed. "Now, we're drowning and they want to hand us a cement block.
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 the primary factor for the decline in demand.
Representatives of the Federated Union of Reindeer could not be reached for comment.
At the White House, President Barack Obama said that he is watching the crisis closely.
"We must not underestimate this crisis," Mr. Obama said. "If Santa Claus goes under, his suppliers and their employees will suffer as well."
Several economic experts have warned ripples of SCI's fall could spread globally; even as far as Hanukkah Harry Industries – the largest competitor of Santa Claus.
Rep. John Boehner, (R – OH), 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," Boehner said. "He should petition Canada, Norway, or Russia; or perhaps even the United Nations for the emergency funding he needs."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) seconded Boehner's rejection of aid.
"We are not in the business of giving handouts to the 99 percent of individuals claiming to be in danger of losing their homes or small businesses in this economic crisis," he said.