By MERRILL MATTHEWS JR
IT’S a good thing Santa Claus lives and works at the North Pole rather than in the U.S. If he had his shop in this country, Santa would have to function under so many laws and regulations that the federal government would likely close him down, leaving millions of boys and girls disappointed on Christmas morning.
Just consider some of the government agencies that could threaten Santa’s work:
The Fish and Wildlife Service. Santa’s sleigh is pulled by reindeer. But while reindeer are not an endangered species, flying reindeer are quite rare, and there is only one red-nosed reindeer known to exist. So under the Endangered Species Act, Dancer and Prancer might be allowed to continue working, but Rudolph would have to be placed in a safe habitat.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is not at all clear that Santa’s workshop would pass federal OSHA standards for workplace safety. Does Santa have too many elves packed into a small room? Are there an adequate number of fire extinguishers and fire escapes?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is clear that Santa hires a large number of vertically challenged people–elves. But all of these elves appear to be white males, which leaves the suspicion that Santa is in violation of the Civil Rights Act.
The Federal Aviation Administration. Santa’s flying sleigh would need to be equipped with seat belts to be used on takeoffs and landings. Since he flies over water, his sleigh would need a life preserver. The sleigh would also need the proper lighting–a real problem since Rudolph’s nose is red, which would normally indicate the rear of the flying object rather than the front.
The Commerce Department. Santa is involved in the transport of consumable goods, which means he would be subject to certain weight restrictions and proper placarding of his sleigh if any hazardous materials were on board. Furthermore, regulations limit the number of hours a person can operate a vehicle transporting goods. After 10 hours behind the reins, Santa would probably have to take an eight-hour break, impeding his ability to finish his world-wide job on Christmas Eve.
The National Labor Relations Board. Is Santa using cheap elf labor, or is he paying his elves at least minimum wage? Is he giving them a lunch break? Paying overtime? Providing elf health insurance? A retirement plan?
All of these issues are important, yet Santa is avoiding them by doing business at the North Pole. Which raises another vital concern: By “dumping” toys in the U.S. at below-market prices (to wit, free), Santa is subjecting U.S. toy manufacturers and dealers to unfair competition and putting countless Americans out of work.
There’s only one solution: Washington should impose stiff tariffs on goods imported from the North Pole, lifting them only when Santa ends his unfair trade practices and brings his operation up to American health and safety standards.
Mr. Matthews is vice president of domestic policy for the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas.