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Santa Claus — Socialist or Communist?

Excerpt from MinnPost's holiday card
Excerpt from MinnPost’s holiday card

I received a holiday greeting card from the MinnPost staff last week that contained a list of writers’ “potential” seasonal posts. I learned that my topic was “Santa Claus — Socialist or Communist?”

Fortunately, despite the crush of the holiday season, I caught up with the right jolly old elf during a personal appearance at a strip mall in Fridley. I put the question to him directly.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” Santa laughed, his belly shaking like a bowl full of jelly. “That is Minnesota diversity, ya sure you betcha.” He was about to light up his pipe when a security guard tapped him on the shoulder and reminded him there was no smoking in the mall.

“You can tell your readers, that Santa is a good capitalist,” he said, shaking his head while he tucked his pipe away.

“Look,” he explained, “I give out of my own production because I freely choose to give. I make the toys in ‘Santa’s Workshop.’  My name is above the door, and they are my toys. No agency of any government forces me to share what I produce. I make the toys; I decide who gets what. My choice is not arbitrary. I make a list. I check it twice. And then, once I determine who’s naughty or nice, I distribute my toys to good little girls and boys who deserve them.

(“Agents at the Department of Homeland Security are not the only ones who know when you are sleeping and know when you’re awake,” he said with wink and a grin.)

“What I don’t do,” Santa added, “is send a sleigh full of toys to the Department of Health and Human Services where some bureaucrat can distribute them according to a formula intended to ‘spread the toys around.’ I don’t want to see my toys in the hands of kids who cry and pout when they don’t get what they wish for — whether it’s a shiny light rail train set or ‘Let’s Play Hockey Arena Construction Kit.'”

“But Santa,” I said, “you’re not being fair.”

“Fair? What’s fair about rewarding naughty kids who take other children’s toys just the same as kids being good for goodness’ sake?” said Santa. “If a little girl takes care of her Barbie Dream House and keeps it in good shape, shouldn’t she find Barbie’s sports car under the tree the next year? And if another little girl doesn’t take good care of her Barbie Dream House, is it fair that she still gets a Barbie Sports Car — or a bigger and even more luxurious Dream House?”

“But Santa,” I said, “think about the children’s self-esteem. What is a little boy going to think of himself if he doesn’t have a ‘Hometown Team Ballpark Play Set’ like all the other little boys have? It’s cold in Minnesota, and the kids have to have some fun stuff.”

“What happens to the little boy’s self-esteem when he gets something he hasn’t earned and doesn’t deserve?” replied Santa.

“You know,” he added, “I could have taken some affirmative action and put Rudolph on the sleigh team anytime I wanted. But if I arbitrarily did that, all of the other reindeer would have still laughed at him and called him names. They still wouldn’t have let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games. But then we had that foggy Christmas Eve. Rudolph’s nose so bright was the only way to guide my sleigh that night. Suddenly, all of the other reindeer realized what Rudolph had to offer. Their shouts of glee were genuine, and now they really love him. That’s the story that will go down in history.”

“I don’t know, Santa,” I said. “That doesn’t sound like a very merry kind of Christmas.”

“It’s the merriest kind of Christmas of all,” said Santa. “Joy doesn’t come from getting gifts; true joy comes from being worthy of getting gifts. A toy from Santa is a reward for being a good little girl or boy. The gift is a symbol of doing things worthy of admiration. What greater joy can one have than confidently knowing he or she is worthy of another person’s freely given gift of love?”

With that, Santa gave me a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, and I understood that a capitalistic Christmas is nothing to dread. Santa didn’t have to say another word. He laid his finger aside his nose, and the next thing I knew, up the escalator he rose.

But I heard him exclaim as he disappeared from my sight, “Happy Christmas to all, Milton Friedman was right!”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 12/16/2008 - 08:27 am.

    “He was about to light up his pipe when a security guard tapped him on the shoulder and reminded him there was no smoking in the mall.”

    Note to mall security: If he tries this again, use the taser.


    Merry Christmas, y’all!

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/16/2008 - 11:03 am.

    Best article all year, Cap’n.

    But given the previous commentator, you might have tossed in a little something about those naughty children who tell lies to get their way, and then slyly snicker at the honest kids when the adults get suckered in.

  3. Submitted by John Olson on 12/16/2008 - 11:07 am.

    I can only imagine what Santa has in his workshop for the boys and girls on Wall Street:

    – a “Build Your Own Ponzi Scheme” set, complete with ready-to-go offshore accounts;
    – a “Golden Parachute” collector’s set (I’ve heard these are increasingly hard-to-find);
    – new Blackberries with pre-programmed speed dials for Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke;
    – a new book entitled “A History of Financial Industry Regulations in the 1990’s.” (Note: This is a very short book.)
    – a remake of the old “Rock-em, Sock-em Robots,” complete with interchangeable heads depicting various cable TV personalities. Color-coded red and blue, as appropriate.

    I wonder if Santa was able to ditch the reindeer for a recently-repossessed Bentley from the midwest?

    Ho, ho, ho. 🙂

  4. Submitted by Santa Claus on 12/16/2008 - 01:19 pm.

    Hi, Craig:

    My legal name is Santa Claus, and I’m a Christian Monk, as St. Nicholas was many centuries ago.

    I’m also a full-time volunteer advocate for the 2 million children in the U.S. annually who are abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, homeless, and institutionalized through no fault of their own. That’s 1 out of 37 children in our great nation.

    I believe that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, not the crass, commercial, secular spectacle it has become in many places, and that the greatest gift one can give is love, not presents. My name and appearance are tools I use to help me advocate for children.

    So, when I read your article, I was disappointed that you characterized Santa as a capitalist then wrote, “Joy doesn’t come from getting gifts; true joy comes from being worthy of getting gifts. A toy from Santa is a reward for being a good little girl or boy. The gift is a symbol of doing things worthy of admiration. What greater joy can one have than confidently knowing he or she is worthy of another person’s freely given gift of love?”

    If one reads Mark 10:13-16, there’s nothing about a child having to be worthy of love. All children are loved by God, no matter what. Santa doesn’t reward anyone, rather Santa loves all children as they are.

    Perhaps, your readers will take a moment and visit and learn about vulnerable children in dire circumstances, instead of literally buying into and perpetuating the unwarranted commercial/reward stigma that has become associated with Christmas and Santa Claus.

    Merry Christmas and Blessings to all!

    Santa Claus

  5. Submitted by Craig Westover on 12/16/2008 - 03:16 pm.

    Dear Brother Claus:

    I commend you for the work that you freely choose to do. I hope you realize, however, that you are free to do your work because others choose to do theirs.

    Your work is supported by donations; before a person can donate wealth, he or she has to help create it. People also decide to whom to contribute among many worthy charities. You must be worthy of their gifts, no?

    You do wonderful work, but it is ultimately the production of others that enables you to do it. You would not have a web site did not some individuals choose to go to work every day developing and advancing the technology that you use. And they do so for their own reasons and purposes. Little of their effort, if any, is in common with your goals, and (sadly) much of it is contrary to your goals. That is the messy part of individual freedom, economic liberty and capitalism – you don’t get the good stuff without the bad. The freedom necessary to create also enables people to make bad choices. The hope is that freedom enables people to choose that which is good. But people have to choose. And there is no guarantee.

    I am familiar with the story of Christ and the little children, but I went back and read Mark 10 13:16. In Mark 10 verse 15 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Yes, Christ unconditionally allowed the children to come on to Him, but He also let it be known that ultimately there are conditions on His love; some will not enter the kingdom of God.

    I would submit that we hold out love to all children, to all men and women, for the potential that they hold as children of God. That is why we risk our lives to save strangers in peril. That is why we contribute to charities of our choice, “Each man (giving) what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2nd Corinthians 9:7).

    However, it is the realized potential for goodness and worthiness – the reflection of what each of us strives for in our own lives that we admire in others – that ultimately earns our love.

    If love were truly unconditional, then it would have no value for it would have no currency in reality.

    Christmas is indeed a time for reflection of what is truly important in life, but that need not mean a hair shirt under the Christmas tree. Christmas can also be a time of joy, of gift giving and receiving, a merry time — for those who have earned it.

    God bless –


  6. Submitted by Joey Peters on 12/16/2008 - 03:42 pm.

    I always figured Santa was a capitalist because he’d always give the coolest, most expensive presents to the richest kids, and being naughty or nice was not a factor.

    When Santa comes to St. Paul, I swear he spends most his time arming up Summit Avenue with serious loot.

  7. Submitted by Santa Claus on 12/16/2008 - 04:49 pm.

    Dear Brother Craig:

    Thank you for sharing your perspective and correcting my course. My spirit grows as I learn. And, I’m thankful we met on one another’s journey. I’ve realized that when I take someone to task for something, I usually am addressing an issue in my own life. My apologies (to all).

    Merry Christmas!

    Love and Blessings, Santa :-)}

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