Columns » Bob Lancaster

Christmas changes


Newt Gingrich santa image satan

Santa Claus has turned Republican, I understand, and plans to make some big changes in the Christmas ritual.

Foremost among them: people had come to regard Christmas gifts as an entitlement, and Republicans have given us to know what horrible things entitlements are, so Santa Claus wants to phase out the Christmas gift-giving tradition altogether.

Instead of presents under the tree for the little ones, S.C. wants the little ones to get jobs. Newt Gingrich was saying just last week that it would be a great benefit — a great character builder — if we'd put the little scudders to work as young as four or five, and Mr. Claus concurs, I gather reluctantly.

Apprentice them out to a no-nonsense sweatshop run by a stern taskmaster — the coffin maker in Oliver Twist comes to mind — and it wouldn't be long before they learned the value of a dollar, and the pride of earning the wherewithal to buy their own crust of bread or bowl of weevilly gruel when malnutrition threatened their on-the-job efficiency or proficiency.

Or just furnish them a daily can or two of Red Bull, the cost deducted from their wages, of course, if they have enough wages to cover a can or two of Red Bull, and they could probably get their work quota just from jitters resulting from that. And what's left over after the Red Bull and the flat tax withholding, sure, by all means splurge on a peppermint cane to hang on the tree and have the family take turns jumping up and licking it two or three times a day during the 12 Days of Christmas.

Such extravagant living as that is morally contraindicated, understand, but it's your dime — literally, it's your dime; as a dime a day sounds about right as a wage in an economy fueled in large measure by pre-pubescent sweat and pre-pubescent tears.

This no work/no-holiday-candy-to-lick-on ethic is as American as beating child-labor slackers with fireplace pokers, going back 400 years to John Smith at Jamestown. It received Biblical sanction from St. Paul in II Thessalonians — and there's no reason why American children should be excluded from it. Literary bleeding-hearts got them excused in the first place, and we're a tougher-minded lot today. We know they're just spoiled brats mostly, who could use a little shaping up.

And not since the 19th century has an American political candidate or party had the tough-love discipline to hold urchins' little feet to the fire, to oblige them to pull their own weight, to pull up by their own bootstraps if indeed the developing Republican scheme admits of their going to work shod. It might very well not.

Oh, but working full time they wouldn't be able to go to school, the spoilers say. Sure they would, say N.G. and S.C. in reply. It'd be the School of Hard Knocks primarily, yes, but eventually the other kind, too. The other kind that banned God and made slouching apes out of Adam and Eve and won't let you beat up homos or pack. It might test their stamina a little to go to hard knocks school every day and no-pack ape school nights and weekends and holidays, but little kids have pep to burn so why not put it to good use?

The bleeding hearts say well, their hands are too small and tender, they don't have the strength to turn a lug wrench or load 16 tons of No. 9 coal or rassle professionally on the WWF circuit. You got the same razzmatazz once about women in the work force, but Rosie got a foot in the door and women proved they could do the job and for only a small fraction of what it costs to get a man to do it.

With just a teensy bit more of timely government deregulation, you could get a child under 10 to do the job for even less than you have to pay a woman, and with the anticipated Republican-agenda legislation enacted and in effect if the child grumbled or sulked about it, or started talking union or threatening to call OSHA, you could tase the little troublemaker or waterboard him or whatever the situation required. Bruise him to death sort of accidentally, as one of the Artful Dodger's workhouse overseers claimed was his specialty.

Garnish whatever coppers were left in his, ahem, paycheck and pass them along to the Koch boys who have to have money from somewhere — or lots of somewheres — to keep their humongo hog act going.

Not that this mess of trash that's bantering toddler workfare really cares about the issue. Their ultimate aim is to revoke all government regulation, so they can get free and unlimited permanent access to the trough, and they figure if they can scrap the child-labor regs then the rest shouldn't be too much of a problem.

The most troubling question for me in all this is how they lured Santa Claus — Santa Claus! — into their shameful kuplotting against the urchinry. I've got some theories on that — from the disillusioning predictability of his Christmas night routine to the physical threat to Toyland from man-caused climate change — and I might get around to expounding on them later.

Meantime, bear this in mind, that Santa is an anagram for Satan. Might be a clue in that.

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