For the second time in as many years, the Stowe Reporter has sent a reporter to the North Pole to report on how Santa and his helpers are dealing with the holidays. Last year, he reported on the anxiety Santa and his workers felt as they learned that climate change may melt the Arctic. This year, he reports on Santa as he faces a serious short-term problem: the global economic crisis.
Of particular interest to me are the effects of the perfect labor storm on his eternal enterprise.
Claus has been disproportionately affected by the rising costs of health care. Elves, which make up the bulk of Santa's work force, are thought to be immortal, meaning their pensions and health-care benefits never stop. Further, they are also thought to be "gods of fertility," according to Germanic mythology, and reproduce more often than humans.
"My labor costs are through the roof. If I hired elves overseas, they could work for 8 cents an hour," Claus said, who noted that massive elf layoffs are possible if they are not willing to make concessions.
The Elves Union has publicly cautioned Santa to rule out layoffs.
Read more about the Santa's business woes.
(Thanks to colleague Jim Kissane for posting this on his blog.)