If There Really Is a Santa Claus, Shouldn’t He Be *All*-Knowing?

How am I — how is *anyone* — supposed to trust this guy to be an objective arbiter of good-bad when he lacks the self-awareness to openly address is inadequacies? Plainly, *plainly*, someone who “knows” whether someone has been bad or good during the course of a given year *should* also know what gifts said person would most prefer without having to be told. Anything less than that is just lamely convenient and smacks of collusion (with whom I can only guess) as well as corruption.

A truly all-knowing Santa Claus should, further, have the ability to assess gift preference with a precision superior to that of the gift recipient. Just because Little Johnny *thinks* he wants an Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, that doesn’t exactly mean he wouldn’t be happier if he instead received a full-on Stomper 4×4 set-up complete with styrofoam mountains. Why, really, is it incumbent on the poor six-year-old to make this assessment himself? I’m sure all of us remember a time when a Claus-given “gift” turned out to cause more trouble than joy, whether through jealousy, disappointment, or by unexpectedly exploding into shards of plastic.

Does anyone remember Santa Claus admitting culpability?

Given the unavailability — or unwillingness — to provide this superior gift-giving capability, the positive associations generally assigned the Santa Claus brand seem largely unjustified.

Beyond all this lies the other core concern regarding the jolly old elf. He’s set himself up as the ultimate annual judge of behavior, but has NEVER stated the actual criteria upon which children are to be judged. Naughty or nice? Sure, but is the scale relative or absolute? Upon what value system is it based?

Say, for example, that Girl X, through her incompetence, drops an anvil on the head of Unsuspecting Bystander Y. Then let’s say that Boy Z, while he would very much *like* to drop an anvil on the head of Unsuspecting Bystander Y and wishes all sorts of harm on Y, chooses not to do so because his opportunity cost of dropping the anvil is *slightly* higher than the utility value of Y’s crushed head. Which of these two, X or Z, is naughty? Nice? My point exactly.

So with the thought of making this post a *constructive* exercise and to ensure the loyal readership that this post is not just another pile of anti-Santaist rhetoric, here’s what I’d propose should happen to resolve the issues set forth.

  1. An open, public response from Mr. Claus explaining the selectiveness and mechanism behind his “knowing” powers and a full investigation into how these powers, if verifiable and found objective, could be further used for the betterment of society.
  2. Complete transparency within the system; black boxes are in no way acceptable.
  3. An established means of consistent two-way communication, including the availability of to-date judgments and FOIA compliance — given the volume of transactions Sant Claus completes within the United States, his status as a non-citizen should not absolve him of the obligation to allow people to understand their status under his system.
  4. An annual independent audit of evaluations to ensure fairness and objectivity as well as compliance with best-of-breed privacy standards to protect the interests of the judged.
  5. Establishment of a means of appeal for all decisions made by Santa Claus.
  6. Creation of a binding service-level agreement, including agreed-upon language regarding consequences of failing to meet the requirements of the SLA.

Barring the above, I don’t see any reason why humanity doesn’t pursue other holiday-related figurehead options. While I don’t necessarily think the incumbent’s intentions are impure — I truly have no idea what Claus’s motivations might be — surely we’d be better off with an objective, transparent gift-giving apparatus that can easily be held to high standards of accountability.

Until it happens, the establishment of an acceptably better regime will remain my fondest holiday wish.

Defiantly,

bkd

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