A Christmas Tale: Santa in the New World
As his flying truck was clearing the half-frozen runway, Santa reflected on how the world had changed. His co-pilot was his Chief Diversity Officer, a blue non-binary person. (Ze was also his Chief Scientific Officer.) Her presence was not formally required by law but Santa knew he would otherwise get in trouble with “the authorities” and their armies of bien pensant minions. Not that Santa held any partisan political opinion: for decades, he had delivered the gifts requested by children, with due consideration to their parents’ wishes, and just wanted his customers to be happy. He had been a smiling merchant.
“Merchant” is not the correct term because, as is well known, Santa did not charge anything for his services. But that was not an excuse for ignoring officially-defined fairness, as Google, Facebook, and Twitter had learned in times past. It must however be admitted that Santa partly financed his activities with ads from Amazon, the logo of which figured on all his gift bags. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Also, his flying truck was loaned by Space X and bore the company’s logo: there is no such thing as a free launch either.
At that time, historians will recall, Amazon was still trying to survive a long decline while fighting new legal challenges from antitrust authorities, who had been lobbied by some new competitors. Poor economics, of course. Heavily subsidized universities had stopped teaching standard economics which, it was complained, transmitted “an oversized and anti-social view of the individual.”
The State of California had forced Santa to fill 10% of his cargo space with non-gendered gifts. Although the required proportion did not correspond to straight demographics, it made sense given that non-gendered people were more privileged and much wealthier than average and typically spent much more on their children’s gifts. In a rare fit of dark humor, the old Santa had filled the mandated space with cowyouth revolver toys. The packaging of the gun toys also warned: “For Social Justice Enforcement Only.” Long guns bore the inscription “The Long Arm of the Law.”
It would be incorrect to believe that Santa had become a moral nihilist. On the contrary, he had simple moral beliefs, perhaps reminiscent of what Honoré de Balzac said of a character (Borgeat) in one of his novels: “This man’s faith was perfect; he loved the Virgin Mary as he might have loved his wife.” (In the French original: « Cet homme avait la foi du charbonnier. Il aimait la sainte Vierge comme il eût aimé sa femme. ») This did not fit well with the Brave New World, where the simple person’s morality now consisted in worshipping Gaia, claiming for sacrifices to social justice, and obeying the authorities.
Entering America’s airspace was not easy but it was just business as usual. A Great Invisible Wall had been created that blocked any foreigner until he could be vetted. As an exclusive service to good American citizens, the federal government was offering the completely free insertion under the skin of a complimentary microchip that automatically opened The Wall, except of course if an order from a secret court dictated otherwise. (These national security measures had been reconducted under the latest Matriot Act, renamed to position it squarely against patriarchy.) Santa had to produce personal and customs e-documents, show the QR of his special cabotage permit (the Jones Act had been recently modernized), provide a link to his DNA profile and complete medical file, answer questions, and swear not to make any trouble. He was not comfortable with that promise but he was not a pure Kantian and thought that lying, although generally wrong, could be justified under special circumstances such as coercion.
As Friedrich Hayek wrote in a 1973 book, “The first attempt to secure individual liberty by constitutions has evidently failed.” Santa had not read Hayek, who was by then totally forgotten after being openly censored as an old white man.
Crossing The Wall was only the beginning of Santa’s problems. Once he started landing on roofs, he saw that the vast majority of chimneys had warnings such as “Only Local Toys Accepted,” “Union-Made Toys Only,” “No Sexist Toys,” “No Gun Toys,” “Blue-Made Toys Only,” “Nothing But Educative Toys,” “No Foraign [sic] Stuff,” “Warning: Inclusive House.”
When in the weeks preceding Christmas, Santa had met little boys and girls in stores and shopping malls, he whispered in their ears: “If your gifts are not by the chimney, go and see outside the backdoor of your house or outside your school.” (An increasing number of families lived in public or subsidized apartment blocks as opposed to single-family houses, which were said to “waste our national resources.”)
By Christmas morning, all children had received the gifts they had asked for—except for a few inappropriate requests from naughty kids and, of course, from children in jail, where deliveries were forbidden. An electronic Christmas card accompanied each gift, paraphrasing a reflection by (now officially canceled) economist James Buchanan: “You will need liberty to become the individual you want to become.” Interestingly, Santa had heard about Buchanan, perhaps in Econlib or Regulation articles that circulated on the dark web.
After Santa had delivered his last gift, any passerby would have heard a short burst (ho-ho-ho) of his famous laugh. He then hurried back to the North Pole, his truck in hypersonic mode, to escape being canceled by the mob or arrested by its very representative government.