Paul Jacob

We need to get rid of Santa Claus. Oh, sure, he does bring us presents. But, what I am supposed to do with an ethanol subsidy or a bridge project for Christmas, for heaven’s sake?! I can’t use stuff like that and it won’t fit under the tree.

Did I say Santa Claus? No--er, well, you could call him Santa Claus because he plays one on TV, but that is just an act--his real name is Uncle Sam.

(If you thought this was going to be a column about the commercialization of Christmas, I’m sorry to disappoint. Really. It’s just that I’ve got kids at home and I have nowhere else to go at the end of a long workday.)

Still, the bait-and-switch is fairly even. Uncle Sam spends money just as well as any Santa Claus. (No offense, dear.)

Now let’s get serious. I love Christmas and I think I hold my own when it comes to embodying the Christmas spirit. I still get some pleasure from the light-up plastic Santa in his sleigh (albeit pulled by one lousy reindeer, and not even Rudolph) sitting in my front yard.

A usually practical sort, even (BEG ITALICS)I have been known to go a little overboard during the holiday season. Innocently expressing my love and good cheer, I’m easy prey for those greedy capitalists. We all know that spending money is more fun than earning it--which is why you get a whole week to beg on the streets or hire a truly innovative accountant before the January bills start rolling in.

Imagine what would happen if those January bills just never came. Or if they came, not to you, but to your kids! Some 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Wow, could we have wild Christmas celebrations! Anything the kids want or need would be theirs. We could do anything!

"For the children," of course.

I can almost hear someone saying, "If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can afford a train set for Billy and another doll for Mary Sue." What would happen to their self-esteem, if they didn’t get everything they wanted, eh?

But alas, Santa Claus doesn’t work that way. Except for that one Santa Claus and I think I’ve made it perfectly clear that he ain’t even (BEG ITALICS)really Santa, he’s our crazy Uncle Sam.

Give him his due, though. Uncle Sam has ample Christmas spirit. More than ample. No matter whether there is war, recession, terrorism, you name it, he always has more gifts. He is always willing to spend another million here, another billion there, especially for the children.

I don’t know if Kris Kringle is spending $2 trillion on various and sundry toys this year, but Uncle Sam Santa generously did. In fact, according to Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute, the federal budget "grew by more than $150 billion--more than twice as much as any year that Bill Clinton was in the White House." Uncle Sam went over $400 billion in the hole this year to show how much he cares. Next year, his caring is expected to cost $500 billion more than he’s got. Through the years, Uncle Sam’s generosity has left him almost $7 trillion in debt.

Yet, in this diverse country of ours, where people insist on having their own opinions, some are telling Santa to take a hike. You see, they are a little concerned about all the bills waiting for our kids. The Scrooges! I’ll bet they don’t even have any lights up at their houses.

One such Scrooge is Rep. Nick Smith of Michigan who is leaving Uncle Sam’s Christmastown next year to go back home in keeping with a self-imposed term limits pledge. Smith was a party ogre at the recent soiree to pass the Medicare entitlement for America’s richest age group. With plenty of good cheer all around, Smith refused to play any congressional games. Presents were reportedly offered. For starters, there was $100,000 from lobbyists for his son’s campaign to take his seat in Congress. Still, Rep. Nick Smith just will not give in to the spirit of the season. He voted no.

Hey, don’t (BEG ITALICS)you lose the Christmas spirit; those bills won’t come due until some January...years from now.

Who loves you, baby?


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.