All I Want For Christmas
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Dear Santa,

I can't believe it's that time of year again. I hope this letter finds you in the best of health. I think I speak for everybody when I tell you that we've been very, very good this time around, so this is going to be a rather long list. Grab something wet, pull up a Barcalounger, and pay attention.

At the outset, let me say I consider it a miracle that this letter reached you at all. I figure you have security up the wazoo, what with all the wackos sending stuff through the snail mail. That whole drill has to make your job a lot tougher. Be patient, Santa, and don't cut corners. Don't get complacent. There's more than one evildoer who would love to take the blush out of the cheeks of a symbol of Western hedonism like you. But don't worry about this letter, of course! If there's any white powder on the envelope, it came from one of the freshly baked doughnuts I have waiting on the mantle for your upcoming visit!

Anyhow, this year it's clear that many, many people are a lot more needy than I am, so in the spirit of the season I'm gonna ask for their presents first.

I should start, I guess, with the poor folks at Andersen, the accounting and consulting firm. Boy, Santa, do those guys need some new calculators! Please get a whole bunch for them. They approved the books for the fellows over at Enron, whose earnings didn't turn out to really be what they said they were at first. Then they had to restate them. Was their collective face red! I'm sure if the Andersen people had better equipment, they wouldn't have screwed up like that with Enron, or with all the other corporations they seemingly permitted to wank around with their numbers in exchange for hefty consulting fees.

While we're at it, I suppose we can't ignore the senior management that used to run Enron either. What a bunch of boneheads! But this is the holiday time of year, Santa, the season of forgiveness and giving, so why not make their executive homes your first stop? They need a lot, Santa. To start with, they're gonna want, like, thousands of hours of legal time from expensive firms, so give them that. And why not throw in a couple of files they can bake into cakes for later on?

On your way out of town, forget about toys and games and stuff like that and just please leave a ton of money under the tree of every Enron employee, particularly the fired ones, and of course the older ones who thought they were going to have something to retire on. And as for the financial planners who allowed employees' 401(k)s to hold solely the company's stock, I suppose you should bring very special presents for them too...I can't think of what, though...How about we let the Enron work force figure that one out?

There are so many business executives to think about this year too. Most of them you could make happy with fractional growth in Ebitda for the quarter. That would be a huge surprise, and you know how much executives like pleasant surprises!

Bill Gates? You don't need to bring anything for him, Santa. He has just about everything, you know, and what he doesn't have, he can certainly take over and repackage as part of his operating system. But I guess you should try to make sure that there's an Xbox under every American child's tree this year, and a couple of games too, particularly the one where those buff girls in tiny Spandex outfits throw each other around. Just knowing he was making so many children happy would bring a seasonal smile to Bill's Microface.

Oh. Make a very special trip to Carly Fiorina too. She's the woman who runs Hewlett-Packard, you know. She worked so hard this year and had so much aggravation, Santa, so...could you please make Walter Hewlett go away? He's the son of the founder, and he's being a real party pooper! He thinks that the merger is bad for a lot of stupid something about how it will draw the company away from its core competencies in printing and focus it on the low-margin computer-manufacturing side of the business, but when you get right down to it, he's simply being a bummer, that's all. Please, Santa. Bring Carly her merger. She's staked her whole reputation--and her bonus next year--on the outcome, and, you know, any CEO who is willing to risk compensation on something must want it really, really bad.

While you're at it, please bring John Chambers, the head of Cisco, a good stock price right away. The poor fellow has six million options riding on it. Four million of them are underwater, but more recently the company gave him two million more at a strike price of $18.50, and they should be worth something, don't you think? If you don't, Mr. Chambers will really feel that $268,131 he gave up in salary to show he knows that corporations should pay for performance and nothing less.

Gee, this is getting kind of long, and I haven't even gotten to myself yet! So, just briefly, bring Alan Greenspan something nice but healthy, Santa--very, very healthy, no cigars or liquor. Vitamins! Yeah! And let's see...oh, yes, bring the Internet some genuine advertising revenue, will you? It could really use it. And don't forget to leave the folks over at the New York Times business section some Prozac. Or Viagra, maybe. Anything to cheer them up.

For myself, now...well, I guess I have just about everything a man could want, so I'll just mention a few of the things I could do without. Bring me no cutbacks in my stocking, Santa, for me or my friends, and no smallpox, and no anthrax, and no particular reasons to travel anywhere by plane, at least for a while. And most of all please do not bring a suitcase with a nuclear weapon in it for anybody I know, and even the people I don't. Other than that, I could always use a new car. Anything will do, as long as the top goes down. And a phone even tinier than the one I have, to show I'm getting more powerful. And hey, keep this global warming going on. It's great!

Now get busy, my man! You're gonna need plenty of time before takeoff this year, you know, to interview all the reindeer twice after conducting extensive background checks on all of them, especially Rudolph, whose nose always looked a little red to me, and to X-ray all those packages, no matter how small they might be, while making sure nothing has been placed in the baggage compartments underneath your sleigh by the grinches who want to steal a whole lot more than Christmas. Fly safe, Santa! We need you more than ever this year!

Oh--and while you're over Iraq, if you happen to spot a suspicious factory or laboratory of any sort, don't forget to pop a nice little present down its chimney, from--and for--all of us.

Feliz Navidad, baby!

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He can be reached at