Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sorry Virginia....

I absolutely love watching my grandchildren interact with Santa Claus. From their first Christmas, they all started out not wanting to have much to do with him, but by last Christmas, they were comfortable enough to sit on his lap and place their orders, except for Dawson, who even this year prefers to shout his requests from a safe distance. I wonder how long it will be before once again they decide they don't want much to do with Santa.

Many years ago, on one particular Christmas, I remember receiving a CO2 Gas Powered Crossman BB and Pellet Rifle. It had a wooden butt and fore stock, and a canvas sling, and was, I believed at the time, the most powerful weapon mankind had ever created. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I opened it on Christmas morning.

When I circled it and wrote my name next to it in the Sears-Roebuck catalog, it was just something to dream about. I was long past the age of believing in Santa Claus, and I knew it was too expensive for Mom and Dad to buy for me, being that there were 7 other brothers and sisters figuring in on the equation.

Still, even though I knew Santa and his Elves didn't magically make it appear, I was awful happy to have it, and I didn't give much thought to what it took for my parents to get it for me, or whether I'd even done anything to deserve it. All things considered, I probably appreciate more now than I did even then.

I don't know when I came to the conclusion that Santa wasn't real, but I've come to realize that apparently a lot of people in this country, in addition to my grandkids, still believe that he exists.

That might be because our government has been playing Santa Claus for a number of years. It's been giving away a lot of money to a lot of people. And as long as a lot of people were handing a lot of money over to the government, things went along pretty well. The problem started when it began handing out more than it took in. So far it's handed out about $14 trillion more than it's taken in.

I read an article the other day about a 55 year-old government employee who is retiring after Christmas this year. A shot at a 40 year-long retirement is a pretty nice gift by most standards. Unfortunately, many of the funds that were set up to pay for some of those long term retirements have been left severely underfunded because of our governments tendency to give away gifts it really couldn't afford to give away. Indiana's Public Employee Retirement Fund alone is short by about $10 billion. Publicly funded retirement accounts across the nation are estimated to be short by about $4 trillion.

The government would have us believe that if we wish real hard somebody will replace the missing money in those accounts. And somebody probably will. But it won't be Santa Claus. Every time the government gives away another gift, or borrows and spends another dollar, it hands the bill to the taxpayers.

It doesn't really matter if our grandchildren continue to believe in Santa Claus for a while longer, but since a whole lot of baby boomers are ready to get in line, it would behoove both the gift givers and the gift receivers to take a reality check.

And the sooner, the better.

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