Saturday, November 22, 2008

Political Santas

I am one of those people that get irriatated when stores put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. I have always thought that it somehow diminishes the importance of Thanksgiving as it gets children to start thinking about Christmas when there are a lot of good messages and family times to be had on Thanksgiving. And don't get me started on Black Friday. Addendum: I was at Nordstrom's the day before Thanksgiving and saw a sign that said Nordstrom's won't be putting up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. The sign said Nordstrom's believes in celebrating one holiday at a time and wished everyone a "Happy Thanksgiving." I wished other stores would do the same.

Having said that, here I go with a Christmas-related post before Thanksgiving. But it really doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. It has to do with a political cartoon.

The above cartoon recently appeared in the Boston Globe and here is Don Boudreaux's response:

Editor, The Boston Globe

Dear Editor:

Dan Wasserman's cartoon today depicts countless gloomy Santa Clauses queued up before a "Unemployment Benefits" office. 2008 will indeed be a sad year for shopping-mall Santas, but other Santas are quite jolly.

I speak of politicians. Like shopping-mall Santas, their job is to entertain requests from strangers for goodies. These strangers (like those on the laps of shopping-mall Santas) give no thought to who pays for the requested goodies - so their requests are childish and ample. Politician Santas are naively taken at their word that they can create wondrous things for all good boys and girls. Assisted in the magical Capital City by self-abnegating elves, who need only avoid giving gifts to the naughty, Politician Santas promise the nice a wonderful bounty.

Alas, one important difference between a shopping-mall Santa and a Politician Santa is that the former immediately forgets each child's request the moment that child pops off of his knee. The Politician Santa, in contrast, works hard at the impossible task of making the magic come true.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Chairman, Department of Economics

George Mason University

Well said Professor Boudreaux.

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