The Closet Moderate: The Opening Salvo

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Opening Salvo

Is it the War on Christmas season again? The bells and the sleigh, the fife and the drum! Oh joy!

I consider myself a seasoned veteran of the Christmas wars, but I must admit even I find this new front that has opened up nothing less than confounding. Here's the most recent savage attack from those who wish to destroy Christmas and all that is holy.

A Christmas Tree Tax

That's right—the holiday haters have teamed up with the biggest Grinch of the all, Obama, to achieve their two missions at once. They are trying to get you to to quit buying Christmas trees by stealing your hard-earned money and inflating the already massive government.

It all makes so much sense. That is until one thinks about it for more than the time it takes light to travel across one's vacuous skull.

The tax is 15 cents a tree. And it was thought up by the growers of Christmas trees, to tax themselves to pay for advertising for said trees (a la "got milk?", "the other white meat", etc). And there was a year of open public comment on the topic. And the process started 3 1/2 years ago.

What makes me so pissed about this is not that it is a pointless ruse by Republicans to take attention away from important matters and paint Obama as a Christmas hater (?!?). Which it absolutely is. No, that's all well and good and expected. No, what pisses me off is the fact that this tax is just the kind of shit Republicans actually want.

Look, when I wake up every day and I ask myself "WWMRD?" (What Would Mitt Romney Do?), I invariably answer myself: "Be pro-business!". I mean, amiright? Silent Cal said "America's Business is Business". And I think it's probably the winningest argument the right has got at the moment. I don't buy lots of it, but, fine, making it easier for businesses to do what they do, and get the economy back going again, sure, why not? It sure beats granting voting rights to fetuses, I'll give it that. And that is exactly what this tax was about. Not the fetuses, the business thing: allowing a business group to effectively lobby to get some pro-business legislation passed. Not to state the obvious, but a tax like this is a hugely good deal for the Christmas tree growers. It gets around the usual collective action problems and allows them all to pitch in for a common cause. And it's clearly pro-American jobs, as real Christmas trees are largely grown in the US, whereas the fake ones come from overseas. I realize some of my fellow bloggards don't want a penny of government money raised or spent on anything that wasn't spelled out by some crusty dude from the 1700s. Sure, cool, I hear that; y'all are nuts, but at least you are consistent. But for the rest of the Republican establishment the Christmas Tree Tax is exactly what you want the government to be doing with its time!

In closing, the War on Christmas is a special time of year, when people get to say patently ridiculous things like Christians in the US are oppressed, or Kwanzaa is real. I hope this opening salvo is a sign of an especially delightful and wacky War on Christmas season, and I wish you all a very merry War on Christmas!


Silent Cal said...

I don't like government acting as the marketing agent for tree farms any more than I like it acting as marketing agent for dairies and pig farmers. If these corporations want to run ads, they should be able to figure out how to do it without the use of force. And let's not get all high-and-mighty about "collective action". This is a tax that small growers don't want to pay, can't afford to pay, since the big farms have better profit margins. It's just another barrier to entry for new farms.

Also: you need to advertise Christmas trees? Really?

Fake Steve Hawking said...

First point is fine by me; if you want that kind of limited government I understand that position. Not to say I agree with it, but you and I can have different beliefs in what government should do.

I'd looove to see some data that support the idea that small tree growers are going to suffer at all because of this. What you are saying totally defies common sense to me — I mean, I have never sold a live christmas tree, but I'd be shocked if 15 cents was a detectable fraction of the money made by the sale. Are you intimating that the USDA did not listen to public comment by small growers to this effect? All the people in the article are described as owners of farms, not larger entities. Indeed, I have yet to find a christmas tree grower or seller who doesn't like this tax. You gotta find me at least one if you want me to believe anything in that second point.

Silent Cal said...

It follows that pattern of all collusion between the regulatory state and business. Why did the big banks support Dodd-Frank but the community banks didn't? Because the regulatory burden is easier for them to bear. It's been true since the New Deal--read the Schechter Poultry case. But evidence? Blog comments aren't about evidence, they're about PASSION. And ALL CAPS WRITING.

But you raise a larger point. If every tree farmer is for this, why is the force of government needed to impliment it? Why can't they all just contract to embark on a joint ad campaign?

And, again, why is this ad campaign even necessary? Who is going to be watching TV, see an ad for a Christmas tree, and then (and only then) decide to buy one? If you celebrate Xmas, you're already down with the tree. If not, I doubt a 30-second ad will convince you to do what years of songs and TV shows and movies about Xmas have not.

Wesley Allen said...

Though I side with Silent Cal on most of your comments, I have to disagree about your claim of ineffectiveness of advertisement. How much of the Christmas tree market is taken up by fake trees? A really good marketing campaign from the REAL Christmas tree businesses (see what I did there?) could dramatically increase their revenue. I can picture a great ad right now with the general message of "You're not truly celebrating Christmas if you can't smell your tree."

Silent Cal said...

@Wesley: You're right, I hadn't considered that this only affects live trees. So, the government is helping one industry gain market share over another. FSH: is this the sort of thing you think our government should do?

Angels said...

I think that government must stop such selling of christmas trees, it is very dangerous to our nature.. I think people can use synthetic trees or just maybe some branches, and that'll be enough