Dan Wasserman's cartoon today  depicts countless gloomy Santa Clauses queued up before a "Unemployment Benefits" office. 2008 will indeed be a sad year for shopping-mall Santas, but other Santas are quite jolly.
I speak of politicians. Like shopping-mall Santas, their job is to entertain requests from strangers for goodies. These strangers (like those on the laps of shopping-mall Santas) give no thought to who pays for the requested goodies - so their requests are childish and ample. Politician Santas are naively taken at their word that they can create wondrous things for all good boys and girls. Assisted in the magical
Alas, one important difference between a shopping-mall Santa and a Politician Santa is that the former immediately forgets each child's request the moment that child pops off of his knee. The Politician Santa, in contrast, works hard at the impossible task of making the magic come true.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman, Department of Economics
Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.