Elvin Elfenhousen, one of Santa’s long-term helpers, joined me recently for a cup of hot chocolate. “What brings you to Indiana?” I asked. “Normally we meet up at the North Pole.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “but the Big Guy wants me to check out locations in Indiana for our workshop.”
“What? Santa leaving the North Pole?” — I was astonished.
“Shhh! We don’t want anyone to know, but the Big Guy is adjusting to the melting polar cap as well as the problems of finding flying reindeer. He’s thinking of switching to FedEx, UPS, and USPS. The sleigh is too small for the volume he has to handle and, frankly, he’s tired of going down chimneys to find only cookies and milk.”
“Incredible,” I said. “Indiana does have a town in Spencer County already named for him. And I’m sure North Vernon, North Judson, and even South Bend, East Chicago and West Lafayette would happily change their names to be home to Santa.”
“Sure,” Elvin said. “We think this could be better for a community than landing Amazon’s new headquarters. The tourist dollars alone would top Elvis’ Graceland.”
“Oh, Indiana would be a great place for Santa’s Workshop,” I enthused. “We’re 45th in the nation in percent of people working at home. Only folks in Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are less likely to work at home.”
“So what?” he asked.
“They’re our competition,” I answered. “They’re states that don’t have workers with the skills or firms with the flexibility to have people working on their own recognizance. And maybe they’re just as unconnected from high speed internet as is Indiana.”
“But are Hoosiers willing to travel to get to work?” he asked. “Aren’t they mainly home-bodies?”
“Yes and no,” I was emphatically ambiguous. “It true that the average commute to work for Hoosiers (24 minutes) is below the national average (27 minutes), but plenty of our workers are well above or well below that figure.
In four of Indiana’s 92 counties (Lake, Morgan, Hendricks and Porter) average commute times are greater than the national average. We also have seven counties with average commute times less than 20 minutes, including Grant, Elkhart, Bartholomew and Howard counties.”
“Then Hoosiers are willing to travel, but many don’t have to,” Elvin concluded.
“Exactly,” I agreed.
“It seems, then,” he said, “Indiana could be a good site for Santa’s Workshop.”
“Precisely,” I said. “We’ve got the transit facilities, old fashioned workers, our famous (notorious) low business taxes, as well as sensible (lax) environmental and workplace regulations. Plus, we’ll pay through the nose to get Santa to relocate here.”
“None of that will be necessary,” Elvin said stiffly. “Santa gladly pays taxes, if asked. He has lots of benefits for his workers and doesn’t take inducements (bribes). After all, he is a mythical employer.”
Morton Marcus is an economist, writer and speaker who may be reached at email@example.com.