A spokesperson for world renown toymaker and philanthropist Santa Claus told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that after 6,892 consecutive quarters in the red, Claus is finally - reluctantly - calling it quits. Inside sources at Claus Industries International (CII) this morning confirmed widespread speculation that the company had fallen prey to a hostile takeover initiated by Claus's nephew, the reclusive health insurance tycoon known to investors only as "X. 'Grubby' Claus."
"I just hope each and every one of my loyal helpers manages to land on his or her financial feet," offered the distraught and visibly shaken elder Claus, CEO and - until recently - managing stockholder of the firm. "I know this was as much a shock to them as it was to me." Some three hundred elves are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the acquisition, which could send the unemployment rate in the sparsely-populated North Pole region soaring as high as 93%.
According to company executives, the future of CII's charitable wing - The Claus Foundation - remains uncertain. When contacted by reporters following Tuesday's announcement, X. Claus declined to specify what plans, if any, he had for the philanthropic enterprise. He was, however, willing to share a few tantalizing details in an exclusive interview granted to the Wall Street Journal's Pamela Pabulum:
WSJ: Mr. Claus, thank you for agreeing to talk to us.
X. Claus: My pleasure.
X. Claus: Well, it's not really a mystery, is it? I mean, you run a giveaway program that rewards every kid in the world for simply being "good", and what do you expect? I don't even know how to quantify "good", do you? It's too vague a term to be of any use in business, and it's certainly no basis for a corporate strategy. In my opinion it's SOCIALISM writ large, pure and simple, and it has no place in a free country like ours.
WSJ: So it's safe to say you're not planning to continue producing toys?
X. Claus: Look, here's the bottom line. We've issued urgent instructions to all middle management at Claus Industries to redirect the company's resources away from the non-profit manufacture of toys and into the highly lucrative and growth-oriented health insurance and pharmaceutical sector of the economy. Accordingly, we've changed our name to "ClausCare Inc."
WSJ: Sounds ambitious.
X. Claus: Pamela, we're all about the future here at ClausCare.
WSJ: So I guess the children of the world won't be getting any free goodies in their stockings this year.
WSJ: I'm sure the children will be thrilled.
X. Claus: I hope so. We're all really tickled about it here at ClausCare, I can tell you . And since it looks like Congress is going to pass a Health Care Reform Bill that requires some 40 million new customers to buy health insurance from private industry without recourse to some blood-thirsty totalitarian government plan involving Nazi "Death Canneries" that grind up old people and turn them into dog food, you can be sure we'll be coming around to every house on Christmas Eve to sign up all 40 million of you new customers to vastly improved health care contracts. And don't worry; You'll be entitled to the sort of comprehensive coverage and up-to-date medical care envisioned by Our Founding Fathers back in 1776. That means free mercury-oxide for all, and no deductibles on leeches.