For months, I’ve mentioned the nation’s high unemployment number in my posts. I’ve clucked dismayingly at dejecting household income figures. The words “down” and “economy” are rarely uncoupled in my writing. But nothing has hammered home for me the present economic state of affairs so much as this little story in The Daily Mail.

According to the story, at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich., instructors have departed from the usual syllabus to teach would-be store Santa Clauses how to cope with the unrealistic requests of children whose parents won’t possibly be able to satisfy their Christmas wish lists.

On the one hand, that’s just fine. Even many secularists have bemoaned the materialization of Christmas. All too often, the pile of presents beneath the tree teaches children that stuff — even more so than, say, a joyful spirit, grateful heart or reconciled relationship — is the substance of celebration.

But on the other hand, Santa Clauses don’t just have to manage selfish unrealistic expectations. A common heart-breaking request from mall-going kiddos these days is this: “Can you bring my daddy a job?”

As one of the Santas cited in The Daily Mail put it, “It’s hard to watch sometimes because the children are like little barometers, mirrors on what the country has been through.”

And what the country has been through is an economy-busting, decades-long spending spree to expand the government. Kinda makes me wish Washington politicians sat through the Santa school lectures — or, better yet, had to patiently listen to wish after wish from children who can’t understand why, suddenly, parents’ purses are smaller and wallets are tighter. Then, again, a politician’s likely answer to a child’s request to find his dad a job would be the false promise of “Sure.”

If even Santa has to bear bad news these days, isn’t it time politicians bucked up and spoke truth, too? The government has a spending problem — and the cure will involve painful cuts and unwanted entitlement reform. Politicians will have to stop acting like store Santas of the past, promising what they can’t deliver and then pinning the task of providing on other people. That’s all I, for one, want for Christmas this year. Is that too much to ask?