Well, Santa's finally done it. He's bankrupt, thanks to some rather dubious investments and some bad luck in the real estate market (a couple ice sheets he was renting out just melted away). Kris Kringle, therefore, has to appeal to us mere mortals, to find someone - preferably a private individual - who can finance his operations for one year while he tries to secure a better financial footing.
Santa has commissioned me to do a feasibility study - that is, to figure out if anyone would be willing to help him. I have to start by figuring out just how much it costs him to be Santa each year (and no, he hasn't told me, and probably won't - Santa's secretive), to within an order of magnitude.
I've identified some key places where Santa surely must be using money. They include:
- Getting the raw materials to make toys.
- Paying the elves to make toys.
- Generating all of the energy he needs to run the North Pole.
- Dealing with the reindeer.
Taking these - and anything I've missed - into account, how much does it cost to finance Santa's operations for one year?
Basic assumptions and clarifications:
- Santa needs to deliver one toy to each of the roughly 2 billion children on his list.
- He needs to do it in one night.
- He has the entire year to make the toys, but he needs the elves to make them (and they need to get paid!) in his workshop. No subcontracting; having to get an investor is embarrassing enough.
- Santa's workshop is at the North Pole, or thereabouts.
- Santa still has his reindeer, workshop, etc. from last year. However, he'll still need to buy new raw materials, food, etc., as well as generate energy for this year. We're not starting from scratch.
- The sled is reindeer-powered; when looking at the energies required for transportation, we'd have to look at what we need to feed the reindeer (I'm using a model like the one in How many calories must Santa's Reindeer consume?).