Sunday, December 21, 2008


Here’s the transcript from a television interview recently conducted in Lapland. It offers a startling look at how the economic meltdown is affecting people all over the world – even a global pop icon who once had it all.


NORTH POLE, ARCTIC CIRCLE – Long time resident and world-renowned philanthropist Santa Claus was let go this week after centuries of dedicated service to all the good little boys and girls of the world. It was a shocking blow to the custom toymaker’s once unshakeable empire, and a warning shot to world economies.

We sat down with Mr. Claus for an exclusive conversation about his life, service, and uncertain future as the world’s most reliable free custom gift delivery service.

AYNtK: You look tired.

SANTA: Another late one last night, my friend. Very, very late.

AYNtK: Burning the midnight oil?

SANTA: [sighs] More like drinking the midnight whiskey.

AYNtK: I heard you were a tequila man.

SANTA: Ho, ho, no. Not anymore.

AYNtK: So...first of all, sorry to hear about the most recent news. It’s pretty rough out there.

SANTA: Tell me about it, young man. But, then, I suppose nothing lasts forever. Except fruitcake perhaps. [laughs] Ho ho!

AYNtK: It’s good to see you’re still in good spirits what with everything going on these days. Talk to me about that.

SANTA: It’s pretty simple, really. The people of the world are unconsciously reprioritizing the value of human capital.

AYNtK: Sounds like we’re done with the small talk. Tell me what you mean by that.

SANTA: Sure. By that I mean to say we are repurposing the human engine to meet new needs. It’s a difficult, but necessary, adjustment.

[Santa notices the vacuous look in my eyes and sighs again]

SANTA: Let’s see if I can lend a little clarity to that. Take your job, for example.

AYNtK: Please don’t – I need it. (I laugh)

SANTA: See? Right there? That’s value. People eat that shit up, pardon my French Vietnamese.

AYNtK: Eat what up?

SANTA: The humor. The wit. The perspective you put on things. As a writer, the value YOU provide the world is in this interview. You spend your working hours doing what you do for money, which you can then exchange for products and services, all the productivity of other people. You follow?

AYNtK: Sure. I’m essentially trading my skills for money, which is currency I can exchange to leverage the skills of other people. It’s a productivity swap.

SANTA: Righto. So it’s a question of value. And value varies.

AYNtK: Are you saying the world no longer values Santa Claus? I can’t buy that.

SANTA: It’s economics. The amount of currency you receive for your effort depends primarily on several things: Your talent, your time, and the market demand. Generally speaking, the more TALENTED you are, the more people will trade their currency for your skills. The more TIME you spend being productive, the more currency you can earn. And the more demand for what you produce, the more currency you can demand in exchange.

AYNtK: Interesting. So how does this play into your current situation?

SANTA: That’s where I was headed. I’m a pretty talented guy. I’m the only guy I know, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m the only guy I know who can strap a team of reindeer to a sleigh and take that thing airborne. It’s not a skill they’re teaching the kids these days.

AYNtK: I should say you’re right about that.

SANTA: But today with the Internet and global shipping we have a democracy of goods. People order what they want when they want it and it shows up a few days later. Did you know that letters to Santa are down over 400% from just a decade ago?

AYNtK: Wow. That’s significant. Why is that?

SANTA: Because I take too long. Kids don’t want to write a letter and wait a month or more for me to show up – hoping I bring them what they asked for. They get their parents to shop on eBay and Amazon and have stuff shipped immediately. I’m a 20th century dinosaur.

AYNtK: But your delivery system is remarkable. World coverage overnight.

SANTA: Ever hear of FedEx?

AYNtK: Now this might sound to some like you agree with your termination – at least in principle.

SANTA: Let’s just say I understand where it comes from. Of course I still have value to offer. Think of the operational logistics of building all those toys – millions of custom requests to fulfill. Then there’s the distribution network, which consists – again – of me. And the whole chimney drop thing. Took me years to nail that.

AYNtK: I don’t think people really appreciate all the work you put into making Christmas a magical event.

SANTA: And I really streamlined things since the early days. Made a lot of upgrades. I wasn’t always this efficient, you know. There were years I skipped entire countries. Simply ran out of time. I don’t think the North Koreans ever forgave me. At least not that Kim Jong-Il guy.

AYNtK: That does explain a lot. I think most people assume your system is pretty flawless.

SANTA: [laughs] Far from it. In fact, I get orders mixed up all the time. You ever get something from me when you were a kid that wasn’t what you asked for?

AYNtK: Actually, I do remember REALLY wanting a Big Wheel car, and getting a Hot Wheels car instead. That was rough.

SANTA: Details, my friend. Details are everything.

AYNtK: So if you’re the only one who can do what you do, why’d they pull the plug on the operation?

SANTA: I’m a luxury, son. As in: no one needs me. Half the world’s kids don’t believe in me anymore anyhow. I’m actually surprised they let me stay on as long as they did, what with the huge deficits I’ve been running year after year. There’s no revenue in giving things away. Just a growing expense sheet. Do you know how much those Wii things cost?

AYNtK: Any predictions for those people watching right now and wondering what’s in store for them?

SANTA: Well, I suppose if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. It’s happening everywhere, but especially in America. Look at your economy. Major shifts in human capital are going to be required to get things humming again. You’ve got to ask yourself, what will the commercial sector need to sustain the momentum of progress? Where are we in the evolution of civilization? What kind of world are we moving toward? What skills will the new economy require of its workforce? The skills of much of the workforce are becoming obsolete. Everything is automated and computerized. Even the service sector is at risk as more people are able to do things for themselves online.

AYNtK: What can we do as individuals?

SANTA: Think about what you do and how it contributes to what you have and how you live. Everyone needs to do this. Consider your talents and skills. How can you bring value to the new world economy? What does the world need now and how can you meet that need?

AYNtK: Wise advice from a guy who’s been around a little while.

SANTA: When I started this gig way back when I remember thinking, “You know, science is taking all the mystery out of life. There’s a void there. People want to believe something magical is happening behind the scenes. Something good.” And so I devoted my life to making that happen. It was a good run.

AYNtK: So what’s next for you? Are things going to work out for the Kringles?

SANTA: I hear there’s a vacant Senate seat in Illinois. [cackles loudly] Ho ho ho!

AYNtK: There may be a governorship soon, too, is what I hear.

SANTA: I wouldn’t do well in politics. I’m a model of efficiency – making more every year with less. Government somehow manages the opposite. But seriously, we’re going to be fine. Few people know this, but the Mrs. is actually an accomplished astrophysicist. She had some pretty substantial offers come in after she re-engineered my sleigh to slingshot with pinpoint precision at near-orbital velocities.

AYNtK: And what’s next for you?

SANTA: I’ve been at this for so long I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought. But I would like to try windsurfing.


Santa remains in good spirits, despite being on the verge of losing his North Pole estate. According to the Elven Times, Claus Enterprises has always operated in the red, but is now behind on mortgage payments and expects a 2009 deficit close to one hundred billion Euros. First Pole Savings & Loan, reacting to the recent credit crunch, has been threatening foreclosure for the jolly old soul whose future job security is no longer “in the bag.”