Boycott Santa! Free the elves! Support your local toy store

The festive season is upon us, and with this time every year comes the night when Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Father Frost or Father Christmas, whatever name depending on the culture he may be referred with, makes his silent visits under the cover of darkness to bestow prized gifts on children who have behaved well during the past year.

As every year, the majority of children who have been good have all the reasons to look forward to this magical night when rewards for their past good behavior will come into fruition. Yet, in our focus on Santa and his bounty, we tend to ignore the lives of those who do not stand to benefit from Santa's benevolence. In all our festive joyfulness, we tend to ignore that Santa's bringing gifts to children is not equitable to everybody - and by that, I do not mean the naughty children who do not receive his gifts. No. Dear reader, let us turn our minds and hearts towards the poor people who are truly and materially disadvantaged by Santa's annual act of giving: our toy workers.

As is commonly known, Santa does not buy toys at the local market, but instead has them manufactured in his own extensive residence at the North Pole. Presumably, this is to ruthlessly drive down the cost of manufacture. The toys are manufactured in sweatshop-like conditions by toiling elves, who are compensated little or nothing for the fruits of their labor. Another advantage (but only to Santa!) is that, come the day of distribution, he can collect the toys all at once from elvish factories at his doorstep. If he had to instead gather toys from local shops all over the planet, this would support the organic growth of local economies - but his work would perhaps be marginally harder. This is yet another clear example of brutal capitalist logic, red in tooth and claw, aiming to conserve another penny even if that means employing slave labor and depriving the local toy store worker of her rightfully earned income.

It gets worse. Santa gives away all his toys for free; but although that's a boon to the children who receive them, imagine the consequences it must have on legitimate toy manufacturers everywhere. How many toy workshops are driven out of business because they can't match Santa's dumping prices? If the average child expects to get a new toy every month, then Santa's toy dumping is responsible for the destruction of one twelfth of the legitimate economy-based toy market, and thus for the disappearance of some 8% of jobs in the sector of toy manufacture. We all know the good and happy side of Santa, the side that is visible to children; but how about the side that's visible to toy workers who are being laid off? What does Santa say to them? "Ho ho ho - your job will go?"

So, next time Santa visits to bring gifts to your children, think about the other poor children - not the naughty ones who did not receive any gifts, but the poor children of toy workers who've been laid off due to Santa's toy manufacture and dumping practices. Why do you think there are so many hungry children in Africa?

That's the real legacy of Santa's gifts. That's the cost at which your children receive them.

If you object - as you rightly should - there is still time. Santa may try to bring your children toys. But you can let him know he isn't welcome. Send him mail to his opulent rich capitalist abode at the North Pole. Post a sign on your roof telling him he is not welcome. Block your chimney so that Santa can't come in.

Then support your local toy workers and buy your children's toys in the nearby shop. Poor children of the laid off toy workers will be thankful. Their hard working parents may yet get their jobs back, and there may be a bright day for their families after all.

(See follow-up: The four anti-economic biases)


Anonymous said…
You have too much free time :).
Anonymous said…
A comment reflecting the sharp wit and deep wisdom of a person wishing to express criticism but lacking arguments to say anything of substance. :)

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