Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

If Santa Claus Had to Put Up With Government Like the Rest of Us

We don’t normally think of Santa Claus or his Christmas traditions as having anything to do with or being in any way impacted by the actions or dictates of government. For most of history from the Middle Ages on this has generally been the case; Kris Kringle has been pretty much Teflon where government is concerned. But over the last two decades in particular, the PC Scrooges have increasingly been getting their way, harnessing the coercive power of the State, as they always do, to make Christmas as painful an occasion as possible for those of us who celebrate and believe. So what would happen if Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick was at the full mercy of Leviathan? I shudder to think about it, but what follows are some scenarios that would very likely come to pass:

  • Santa’s use of the North Pole as a base of operations would be brought to an abrupt and brutal end. At a minimum he would be entangled in and found to be in violation of at least half a dozen international treaties involving the militarization, environment, habitation, and commercialization of the polar region. Because Santa has declared himself at various times and in various fashions an international figure and not a citizen of any nation, he would probably be detained by and placed under the custody of one of the numerous bureaucracies of the United Nations, which would declare him a stateless person and would then attempt to resettle him in a member nation to be selected by either the General Assembly or the Security Council. Santa would almost certainly resist this move, resulting in the assembly and deployment against him of a multinational “peacekeeping” force, composed mostly of U.S. and British troops. This force would waste no time in “neutralizing” Santa and destroying his home, workshop, and logistics infrastructure at the Pole. Santa’s family, elfin labor force and livestock herd would almost certainly become “collateral damage” in the operation.

  • Use of elfin labor in Santa’s workshop would result in numerous sanctions and penalties against him by a variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations, among them the American AFL/CIO, the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, UNICEF, and the WTO. Among the charges against him would be the use of slave labor, employing child labor, failure to pay minimum wage, tax evasion resulting from failure to withhold income, payroll, and FICA taxes (this despite Santa’s lack of U.S. citizenship); violation of the Norris-LaGuardia and Wagner Acts by prohibiting the unionization of his workforce, discriminatory hiring practices by failing to “diversify” his labor force with non-elfin (and non-Christian) workers, as well as numerous health and safety violations resulting from the absence of safety equipment, inadequate housing and ventilation, and use of hazardous materials in the manufacture of toys. He would also be charged with operating without a business license in an area not zoned for industry. A formal cease-and-desist order would be issued, followed within a month by a formal court order mandating closure of the workshop. Santa’s reaction to this would probably be the same as his reaction to relocation attempts and would almost certainly bring about the same result described in the previous paragraph, this time at the hands of armed agents of one of the U.S. government’s executive police forces.

  • PETA, the American and International chapters of the SPCA, and other animal rights organizations would first boycott, then take legal action against Santa for his use of exotic ruminants as beasts of burden, which they would charge constitutes cruelty to animals. Santa’s reindeer would be confiscated and subsequently put up for adoption and Santa himself would likely be fined and barred from possessing such animals in the future.

  • Santa would be barred from appearing in public, at least throughout the English-speaking western world, primarily for three reasons. First, Santa is now widely regarded in this part of the world not only as an alcoholic, an animal-abuser, a liar, and a misogynist, but as a pedophile as well. Second, what will send civic and business leaders over the edge and cause them to give Saint Nick the permanent boot will be his refusal to undergo a criminal background investigation to assuage the fears of jittery yuppie parents that he won’t molest, in the few minutes they are in his proximity, the little precious darlings these parents so casually abandon to unregulated, cut-rate daycare centers for twelve-hour stretches each day. Furthermore, Santa will balk at demands that he “include” children from non-Christian backgrounds who don’t believe in him by doling out toys to these Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and pagan rugrats regardless of whether or not they’ve been “naughty or nice.” Finally, Santa’s image is anathema to those traits that modern western culture considers sacred: a slim body, stylish dress, altruistic abstention from materialistic consumption (unless it’s by those who shape public policy and set cultural trends), healthy diet, abstention from alcohol and tobacco, and ignoring what children really want in favor of focusing on what their elders know they need, particularly if what the children want is inconvenient or embarrassing (e.g., quality time).

  • Almost every child of Christian background has written to Santa at some point in his or her life asking for a certain treasured object as a gift. Santa, for his part, has made implicit or explicit promises that he will provide each child on his “nice” list with the object(s) of their desire. Every child who has ever asked Santa for anything will tell you that the difference between what they've asked for and what they've actually received has been, shall we say politely, rather oceanic. This has resulted in bitter and long lasting disappointment for many a young lad or lassie, resulting in their morphing over the years into cynical, antisocial adults. The benevolent State, not about to see its little “entitlees” disappointed, will haul Santa into court and charge him with mail fraud, false advertising, and breach of promise. Additionally, Santa will be ordered by a civil court judge to establish written criteria specifying the grounds for which he places a child on the “nice” or “naughty” lists. The court will additionally demand that Santa establish a formal Right of Appeal for any child placed on the “naughty” list. Santa will almost certainly be found guilty as charged on all counts and will be ordered to make restitution to the disappointed children by providing them with whatever they wanted but did not receive, retroactive to their first Christmas. Santa will of course ignore this and all related orders, resulting in the seizure of all of his assets. In fact, he will probably already have been the target of a U.S. government asset forfeiture action, since he will have been both unwilling and unable to explain to the IRS his possession of large amounts of toys for which he will have lacked receipts of purchase or sale or for his source of livelihood in the absence of any overtly earned income.

  • Santa’s trans-global toy deliveries on Christmas Eve would be brought to an immediate and permanent halt. The key reasons:

  • 1. The U.S. FAA and the ICAO would find Santa and his sleigh in violation of literally hundreds of aviation licensing and safety codes. These would include Santa’s failure to possess a valid pilot’s license from an accredited flight school in a recognized ICAO member nation; lack of adequate navigational and electronic safety equipment on board the sleigh, absence of ICAO registration or licensing of the sleigh for use as a commercial aviation vehicle, failure to provide proof of periodic safety inspection of the sleigh, failure to pay vehicular title and registration, and failure to carry adequate hazard or liability insurance.

  • 2. More than one hundred nations across the globe, not least of them being the United States in the form of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) would take immediate defensive military action against Santa, his reindeer, and his sleigh full of toys and gifts (assuming that they all hadn’t by this point been confiscated and impounded) during the Christmas Eve trans-global delivery run. Santa, you see, will have failed to either file civil flight plans with the various air traffic control and air defense authorities of the nations whose airspace he plans to traverse on Christmas Eve or to install and configure adequate Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator/transponder equipment aboard the sleigh that would enable him to identify himself to air traffic control and air defense radar systems. Best-case scenario here would be various nations scrambling fighter jets against Santa to identify him and then force him to land. Sadly, “best-case” is unlikely to occur, since Santa, again, will almost certainly not allow mere armed mortals to stop him in his quest to deliver toys to all of the world’s good children and will continue on his merry way. We all know what ugliness will ensue next, particularly if Santa is unlucky enough to enter U.S. or Canadian airspace without adequate prior preparation. He will be shot down like a lone duck on opening day of hunting season in Appalachia, either by fighter pilots with itchy trigger fingers, or by a barrage of surface-to-air (SAM) missiles.

  • 3. As a prelude to the previous paragraph, Santa will be barred by the Department of Homeland Security [sic] from entering the United States (Britain, Canada and Australia, at a minimum, will almost certainly take identical action) for his refusal to possess a valid passport or to declare himself a citizen of a recognized sovereign nation. Santa will treat his persona non grata status with the same gravitas with which he treats every other attempt to regulate him, resulting in his arrest on Christmas Eve by unusually vigilant and responsive federal agents (who will mysteriously fail to notice a five-mile-long procession of “Mexican Christmas Carolers” baring packages leaking a suspicious white powder and emitting a strong hemp-like odor, strolling over the border at Tijuana) who will promptly rendition him to Iran for “questioning."

  • 4. At the local level, Santa’s midnight visits will have government in an uproar. For landing his sleigh on roofs or lawns, sliding down the chimney, leaving toys and filling stockings, and partaking of the sweets left for him by expectant youngsters, Santa will face the following, at a minimum:
  • Fines of varying amounts for keeping farm animals in a residential zone and for failure to curb said animals (the reindeer droppings will probably violate several local pollution ordinances).

  • Parking a(n unlicensed) commercial vehicle in a residential area.

  • Failure to possess a valid license or permit for door-to-door sales.

  • Failure to use safety equipment (lights, directional signals).

  • Overflying prohibited airspace/straying outside of commercial air corridors (assuming Santa hasn’t already met his end at NORAD’s hands [or wings]).

  • Violation of noise ordinances.

  • Criminal charges of trespassing, breaking and entering, and larceny.

  • Liability for civil damages to property resulting from structural damage to homes and property caused by reindeer landing on roofs or lawns and damage to interior furnishings caused by chimney soot or improperly controlled packages.
Enjoy Christmas while you can. Life, after all, has a funny way of imitating art, no matter how “surreal” the art.


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