Subsidies for Santa? Think again

Subsidies for Santa? Think again

At the risk of being called a grinch or inviting a visit from all four ghosts (don’t forget Jacob Marley’s) of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” here’s a point of order to “an undigested bit of beef” that’s masquerading as “governance” in Harrisburg:

State Rep. Jonathan Fritz, R-Wayne, circulated a memo this past week calling for a “small, limited” tax credit for those who hire Santa Clauses this Christmas season.

What? Why? He notes there’s “a shortage of Santas” wrought by “the pandemic and flubbed policies” of Washington and the Wolf administration.

He even cites a Wall Street Journal story that says “working Santas are capitalizing on their scarcity value, bumping up hourly rates and packing their schedules.”

Imagine that, Santa Clauses as price gougers.

And to further bolster his argument for a tax credit, Fritz cites an unattributed “estimate” that demand for Santas has increased by 121 percent this year’s while the availability of Santas has decreased by 10 percent.”

Then Fritz attempts to pull at taxpayers’ Christmas heart strings in a narrative only missing sugarplum fairies and a crutch-dependent Tiny Tim Cratchit intoning “God bless us, every one”:

“One cannot doubt that this Christmas and holiday season is important for many Pennsylvanians and restored merriment is essential for mental health and general well-being. Let’s make holidays special again!” Fritz writes in a Dec. 7 memo seeking co-sponsors for his prospective legislation.

“After a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions forced Pennsylvanians into not being able to experience the magic of the holiday season last year, the fact that the Santa shortage is occurring this year is especially distressing since some families, employers and municipalities are returning to pre-pandemic Christmas traditions.”

Oh, the Santa-manity!
 
“For many, Santa is a critical component of those celebrations,” Fritz continues.
 
“Santas help create lifelong memories—from photos with children, riding by on a fire truck during a parade or leading a gift exchange at a work party—and they are an indispensable holiday tradition for many Pennsylvanians.
 
“Those working as or volunteering to be Santa follow in a long tradition of being on the front lines of holiday merriment. As we look to get as many Pennsylvanians back to work as possible to recover from the economic effects of government-induced shutdowns, we should not forget the holiday season shortage of Santas currently facing us.”
 
It’s one thing if this was meant as a parody but, apparently, it was not as far as we can tell, not only from Fisher’s co-sponsor-seeking memo but from the media’s reportage from around the commonwealth.

Fisher attempts to justify his tax credit Santa clause thusly:

“A small, limited Santa tax credit would have a minimal impact on revenues and could lead to increased economic activity as those seeking out Santa-related events will make purchases at small businesses across Pennsylvania.

 
“It could also go a long way in restoring the holiday spirit at a time when we need it the most.”

“Minimal” or not (and “minimal” being in the eye of the impost driver), in a climate in which many Pennsylvania taxpayers this year struggle to afford to make the proverbial merry themselves, why should they be, by proxy, rolled by government to make others merry?

And the fact of the matter is that imprudent government decisions should not attempt to be “corrected” — and can’t be “corrected” – by a follow-up spate of government policy imprudence (if not impudence).

Oh, and then there’s this, as reported by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star:

“(G)etting the [Fritz] bill through the General Assembly in time for Christmas could take a miracle. 

“The state Constitution requires that bills cannot pass without spending at least three separate days before the state House and Senate, and there are just three session days scheduled before Christmas.”

That just might be a Christmas blessing in disguise.

All this said, “restored merriment” is not, and never has been the “natural, original office of a government” (as social essayist Herbert Spencer was wont to remind).

If Rep. Fritz truly wants to create “lifelong memories” and re-instill the “holiday spirit” all year long, he’d better use his time and the money taxpayers fork over for his perk-riddled remuneration in working to lower taxes and eliminate onerous regulations — for all.

And that’s no humbug.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).