By Daniel Rigney
Christie Claus, daughter of Xmas Inc1 founder, chairman and CEO Santa Claus, called an unexpected news conference today in Hong Kong to announce the company's plan to move its global headquarters to China in 2015. Most of Xmas Inc’s far-flung manufacturing operations are already located in southern China, where the average hourly wage is about 75¢.2
With its low labor costs, lax environmental regulations, and business-friendly child labor and human rights laws, China competes favorably with the North Pole for global investment capital.
Potential labor unrest may also be a factor in XI’s decision. Insiders say quietly that elfin wages have consisted mainly of “all the cookies Mrs. Santa feels like baking,” and some toy workers have discussed organizing to resist corporate policies and work rules. Seasonal production quotas have required elves to work both day and night during the fall to produce disposable amusements, mainly for an under-12 market segment. Alcohol consumption in the elf taverns spikes sharply each January in what some wryly call the month-long “New Year’s Toast.”
Rank and file elves appear internally divided over the corporate move to China. Older elves have been heard to mutter that “this isn’t the way things would have been done in the old days,” while some younger and more technically savvy elves seem to welcome the emerging leadership of Christie Claus and the prospect of fresh ideas for taking the company in new and more prosperous directions.
Some reindeer, meanwhile, fear being replaced by Japanese-made flying ReinBots.
Complicating the corporation’s decision is an internal memorandum which appeared last February in Wikileaks. The document reveals widespread fears among top executives that “the North Pole is gradually melting out from under us.”
At the time of the leaked disclosure, Santa reportedly quipped privately that “pretty soon they’ll be calling it the North Pool.” Insiders whisper that Santa’s hearty laugh seemed to mask a growing sense of disquiet, shared by many other corporate conservatives, both in and out of the toy sector, that environmental scientists may have been on the right track all along regarding climate change.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus, whose first name remains a closely guarded secret to protect the Claus family’s privacy, is the subject of lurid rumors that continue to circulate concerning inappropriate but unspecified behavior involving elves and livestock, as reported in tabloid print and television media each year soon after Thanksgiving. Legal representatives of the Claus family have refused to confirm or deny the rumors, or to give the intimate and salacious details that inquiring minds want to hear.
Some fear that any stain on the Claus family’s reputation could have serious cultural consequences. Parents of younger children in particular are expressing grave concern. “If our kids don’t believe in Santa as a stable and enduring icon,” one remarked, “then what can they believe in? Will they start doubting the truth of everything else we tell them?”
Meanwhile, Wall Street cheered news of the move, buoyed by the shimmering prospect of lower wages and fewer regulations in the toy industry. Buy orders in XI stocks were outpacing sells by 12 to 1 in late trading Friday. By Friday evening, top financial executives were already filling a sack full of generous Christmas bonuses for themselves.
1For a surprisingly prescient comment on the commercialization of Christmas in American culture, see “Xmas, Inc,” Time, January 3, 1927. I thought I had invented the fictional corporation, but a scoop search reveals that Time beat me to it by the better part of a century.
2New York Times, June 8, 2010, B1.