- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

My father says there is no Santa Claus. Is that true? Virginia
Dear Virginia,
Your Dad sure does have a big mouth. He is only partially right. There is a Santa Claus but, much like the Queen of England, he is only a figurehead who does not serve in any official capacity. I know this sounds confusing, so allow me to explain.
Back in simpler times, Santa could deliver toys to good little children all over the world without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, as the years passed by, things became much more complicated. Sweeping societal changes have made Santa's job virtually impossible. Now, don't worry Virginia. Before he left, Santa made sure that good children would still get their presents. He struck a deal with parents everywhere. Parents buy gifts for their kids and pretend that Santa brought them.
Virginia, if you're upset with Santa for hanging up his red suit, take a look at some of the hassles he would face if he continued with his mission of Christmas cheer.
First, Santa could never compete in today's global economic market. Long ago, kids asked for toys that the elves could easily mass produce, like wooden horses and stuffed dollies. Now, every kid wants a Playstation 2. The elves do not have the training to make such technological toys and even if they did, Santa would be smacked with a lawsuit if he tried to manufacture Sony's products.
Of course, Santa would never be able to get rid of the elves because they would unionize. Elf Teamsters would force Santa into giving each elf a contract that guarantees retirement and dental plans, full medical coverage, 15 coffee breaks a day, and every holiday off, including Easter, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, and of course … Christmas. Let's not forget the dangers of elf unionizing. Elf bodies would be found in the trunk of Santa's sleigh or would be poured into the foundation of Santa's new workshop.
The government would most likely step in and try to break up Santa's entire gift-giving enterprise. You see, Virginia, Santa has what we call a monopoly over the entire gift-giving industry. If Santa were still delivering toys today, law-enforcement officials would try to bust up Santa's racket using anti-trust laws and RICO statutes.
Now, Santa's naughty or nice-based gift-giving policy would leave him open to many lawsuits. Every trial lawyer from here to the North Pole would find naughty kids who feel discriminated against because Santa left them coal instead of Pokemons.
I can already imagine what little Johnny's lawyer will say in court. "Your honor," he'll say, "it is true that my client did indeed smack his little sister, thereby forcing Santa to not bring him any presents. However, I intend to prove to this court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was his sister who started it."
Besides, if Santa had to bring coal to every naughty kid, there would be a worldwide energy crisis. Miners wouldn't be able to dig fast enough to keep up.
Santa would also receive a lot of flack from the animal rights activists. You see, Rudolph is a rare breed of reindeer because of his red nose. People would protest the fact that a private individual can own such a rare specimen. So, Rudolph would be yanked from Santa's reindeer barn and placed in a zoo where you and your little friends can gawk at him all day and throw popcorn at his head.
The problem is that animal activists only try to save the cute or extraordinary animals. You always hear about people who want to save the whales, tigers, elephants, and panda bears. Meanwhile, yellow-bellied sapsuckers are probably getting killed off in droves but no one cares because they have a funny name. Santa would receive a lot less flack if he used duck-billed platypi to pull his sleigh instead.
Well Virginia, now that you know the truth, don't spoil Christmas by telling all your friends. This is the way that Santa wants it. Don't worry about Santa. He's doing just fine, even though he just got through a rocky divorce. Even though Mrs. Claus hired David Boies and took Santa for all that he is worth, Santa is still much better off. You see, now that the real Santa is out of the public eye, he doesn't have to worry about keeping you kids happy by maintaining a loveless sham marriage. He even found a newer, younger, and prettier Mrs. Claus while he was on the rebound. I actually spoke to Santa last week when I flew out to Las Vegas to be his best man during his wedding ceremony at Fabulous Fred's Discount House of Matrimony. Santa and the new Mrs. Claus, Sharonda, told me to wish you a Merry Christmas.

Matt Pillsbury is a student of political science and journalism at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. For the past semester, he has been participating in the Washington Center internship program.

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