Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Obama's Christmas Tree Tax - Hilarity from The Onion UPDATE

UPDATE below.

In today's news:

In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)).
Those guys at The Onion, always lampooning the government, what a bunch of chuckleheads. But wait, is it really The Onion. An internet search of federal government websites reveals this announcement (excerpted here):

The proponent, the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force is an industry wide group of producers and importers that support this proposed program. They have conducted meetings throughout the United States with several State and multi-State Christmas tree organizations. The proposed program is not intended to duplicate any State program. The proponents have determined that they need a mechanism that would be sustainable over time. A national Christmas tree research and promotion program would accomplish this goal.
. . .
This rule establishes an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for fresh cut Christmas trees. The Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Order), was submitted to the Department of Agriculture (Department) by the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force (Task Force), an industry wide group of producers and importers that support this program. Under the Order, producers and importers of fresh cut Christmas trees will pay an initial assessment of $0.15 cents per tree, which would be paid to the Christmas Tree Promotion Board (Board). This Board will be responsible for administration and operation of the Order. Producers and importers that produce or import less than 500 Christmas trees annually will be exempt from the assessment. The program is authorized under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (1996 Act).
. . .
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia A. Petrella, Marketing Specialist, Research and Promotion Division, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 1406, Stop 0244, Washington, DC 20250-0244; telephone: (301) 334-2891; or facsimile: (301) 334-2896; or email: Patricia.Petrella@ams.usda.gov.

Yes, I urge you to contact the Marketing Specialist. Your government is on the job, promoting Christmas trees. And dang, if crony capitalism isn't alive at the very lowest levels of government. The very innocuousness of the program belies its evil. One group of producers gets to tax other members of the industry to put together an ad campaign for their product. It is unbelievable that we tolerate this in our government. And as you can see by the relatively small beer program, this kind of thing permeates state and federal government. Not to pick on Patricia Petrella, but why in the world do our tax dollars pay for a marketing professional that the Christmas tree industry could fund themselves? And really, why do Christmas trees need marketing anyway?


Apparently, someone in the administration got a clue as to what a public relations disaster this was and is going to delay implementation. Delay implementation? That's a relief. The real issue is why does the federal government believe it is constitutionally enabled to perform this function anyway? The administration likened it to the 'Got Milk?' campaign, but that's outside the legitimate bounds of government action as well.

I am sick to death of apologies for corporate welfare and crony capitalism. This crap costs the taxpayers, because employees of the federal government are paid to administer the programs and the public pays higher costs for milk and Christmas trees for the ad campaigns. In the comments, I was taken to task for the headline, the commenter thought that Obama should be held blameless because an industry group requested the fee. By that measure, we should hold Washington blameless for spending taxpayer money on bailing out GM, banks, etc, since industry requested the bailouts. Without unchecked government power, taxpayers are going to continue to pay for benefits that flow to corporations. This must end. That's my tea party stance. Waiting for the occupiers to make this their major focus.


  1. Could have SWORN when I read in the whole thing that it said the idea was thought up and requested by the industry themselves.

    OH yeah, here it is:
    "The (Proposed Order), was submitted TO the Department of Agriculture BY the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force, an industry wide group of producers and importers that support this proposed program."

    Obama wants to tax Christmas? Really?

  2. CJ, it is irrelevant who submitted the request, the government is imposing the fee and consumers will pay. Further, producers who didn't necessarily want the tax nor the purported benefits still have the burden. The government alleges that it is an industry wide group, but only 11 producers are represented. Finally, why is governmeting colluding with industry in a way to raise prices? You are missing my main point, which is why does government have such power in the first place? How does promoting a product "regulate interstate commerce?" How can it be legitimate that the USDA pays the salary of a marketer?
    So no I don't apologize for my headline. Government action is raising the price of Christmas trees.

    Wait maybe they aren't, somebody got a clue. Unfortunately, all of the other government mandated fees for indrustry groups will continue.

  3. The left are getting their talking points from Media Mutters:


    As if fascism is OK as long as lobbyists ask for it!