News & Analysis
Mercantilism and the Christmas Tree
Obama Administration to Delay New 15-Cent Christmas Tree Tax The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets. – ABC News
Dominant Social Theme: Christmas trees need taxes, too ...
Free-Market Analysis: What a relief. There won't be a Christmas tree tax after all. But this ABC News story (above) doesn't really get at the heart of the matter. And what's that? Well ... Christmas tree growers apparently – for one reason or another – had to approach the US fedgov about setting up an industry association.
Either they didn't want to do it on their own, or they couldn't, which is typical these days in the US. There seems to be almost nothing that people can do on their own. In the "land of the free and the home of the brave," government approval is required for seemingly any significant business action.
Soon people may even need permission to move from place to place and will have to register with the government if they switch jobs – if they can even find a job to begin with. This is already common around the world, even in so-called democracies and republics!
The US simply lags in that particular category of control. But probably not for long. Here's an excerpt from an article posted at the Huffington Post that explains the REAL backstory, so far as we can tell:
We've all seen "Got Milk," "Beef. It's What's for Dinner," and who could forget "The Incredible, Edible Egg"? With the rise of processed food, people had abandoned their milk for cola and eggs for Pop-Tarts. Christmas trees almost got a catchy slogan, but today the right-wing blogosphere is congratulating itself on having put a stop to it.
In recent years the sales of artificial Christmas trees have grown, as they are promoted as "safer" and sold in many box stores. Natural trees have no ads on TV, and conditions for farmers are worsening because of the recession. There are no major corporate players in the natural Christmas tree business.
Like many small farmers, Christmas tree growers' business is local and their revenue is very seasonal. So this year, the Department of Agriculture passed a proposal that Christmas tree growers would pay a 15¢ fee for each tree sold. The money would be used to form a National Board, like those for milk, beef and 16 other industries, to research, promote and maintain the tree-growers' industry.
Of course, this being the Leftist Huffington Post, the author of the story, Paul Snyder, increasingly turns the affair into an editorial polemic. He writes, "The saddest part is that, under pressure from the right-wing blogosphere, the administration immediately abandoned the plan, leaving the conspiracy theorists to feel vindicated, and tree growers out in the cold."
For Snyder, the attacks on the Christmas Tree tax were actually an attack on small businesspeople who are increasingly losing live-tree market share to artificial Christmas trees made in China and elsewhere. Yes ... The idea was to form an industry group and publicize the merits of live trees as the egg and milk industry has done.
But it apparently doesn't occur to Snyder to ask WHY Christmas tree growers felt obligated to ask the government to OK a 15 cent tax on Christmas trees. One explanation that DOES occur is that the growers couldn't get together to raise prices because then they would have been prosecutable by the fedgov for price fixing.
Or maybe at this point there are simply so many regs that it's impossible to do even simple things like put together an industry association and ad campaign without government approval. Call it a kind of enforced mercantilism. Even when industry leaders don't wish to involve in government in their affairs for commercial advantage, they seem to feel they must.
Conclusion: This is a fairly insignificant story in the scheme of things but it seems to encapsulate a larger issue. Either US Christmas tree growers need the permission of government to pursue a public relations program or they believe for some reason they can't do without it. Unfortunately this is a dilemma increasingly shared by a wide array of American industry. It's one reason – a big one – why industrial growth in the US has stalled.
Posted by I<3Liberty on 11/12/11 10:42 PM
Posted by I<3Liberty on 11/12/11 10:35 PM
Veterans Day Inaugural College Basketball Game on Naval Aircraft Carrier:Click to view link
Further solidifying the athletic-industrial complex. The players wore jerseys with an urban camouflage print. We're all soldiers, even if we aren't soldiers.
Posted by injun1 on 11/11/11 04:02 PM
You are so right. The entry of a multiracial society each with their own agenda disguised under the cover of equal rights is a not a melting pot for America. It is simply a pot that is boiling.
What the heck does this have to do with Christmas trees? See what you started! LOL
Reply from The Daily Bell
Is all part of the same problem as you know ...
Posted by injun1 on 11/11/11 03:28 PM
The ancestral injuries or some such thing that you refer to, is called Congressional and Senate power. It really doesn't have anything to do with a legitimate cause. In our case (Indians) we are simply a puppet for perpetual tax money that provides power for the elected Congressional/Senatorial Chairmanships and their Committees. Simply a tool for leverage.
I don't agree with it but that's the way it is.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Yes, but there is a coterie of progressive black spokespeople (mostly lawyers and academics no doubt) who want the same thing ...
Posted by injun1 on 11/11/11 03:13 PM
jb, your remarks are well taken. I sympathize with you. In the past I have run up against big agriculture and their lobbying power. It is a force that is beyond the imagination of most taxpayers. They have no idea what power and influence these subsidized conglomerates hold. Their goal is simple, the intentional destruction of small business.
Good Luck my friend.
Posted by Bluebird on 11/11/11 03:00 PM
Whew, my spelling! That should have been Huffington, of course and also clever, not cleaver.
I wanted to add to my post, because the Christmas tree story on Fox (sorry) surprised me. Regarding the tax:
"But Agriculture Department spokesman Michael T. Jarvis had defended the program, saying it's along the lines of over 20 other (!) promotional programs supported by the department, such as the "got milk" campaign.
It's worked great for beef, pork, chicken, eggs," he added.
Click to view link
That link may not work since the story is now moved. It is no wonder we cannot afford meat. That advertising was so in your face everywhere and my mind cannot even wrap around what it must have cost.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Yeah ... another fedgov program that is likely not exactly "constitutional" ...
Posted by jb on 11/11/11 02:57 PM
Thanks for this article.
As I have a small xmas tree farm in the mountains and retail my trees regionally in a nearby city, this proposed tax has left many of us reeling. Harvesting xmas trees is hard labor. There are, literally, millions of xmas trees in the ground due to poor planning on the part of big farmers who keep throwing trees in the ground to keep getting the ag subsidy on their property taxes. They can't cut the trees quick enough and so are now looking at a losing game in the years ahead as the price on fir continues to drop.
This proposed tax is nothing but an attempt by big farmers to strangle small farmers. My company does a good job of moving trees to the marketplace and marketing our trees as a local crop that helps employ people in the local economy. We stay in touch with our clientele and even give trees and money to local charities to help encourage people to support us.
I don't need the National Xmas Tree Association's help and I sure as hell don't want to pay a Federal tax to bail out big farmer's for their poor planning. It's absolutely ridiculous. However, what can you expect when the NCTA had their annual conference last year in Oregon? North Carolina?... no, Sonoma Valley, which as we all know produces thousands of xmas trees every year... also grapes.
Let the free market work, sez I. Farmers hungry to increase market share will win and the fat lazy ones wanting subsidies will lose. But as your article accurately points out, the free market is the last thing people want these days in the US of A. Well, what can't keep going won't keep going.
Also, DB, on a side note should any of your elves be in need for extra cash this holiday season, send 'em my way. Fir handling ain't as glamorous as making toys or scribbling screeds but it'll put some hair on your chest!
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks. Do you want to leave your email?
Posted by injun1 on 11/11/11 02:52 PM
New "associations" have been the "new" business entity for some time now. Unions love them. The government loves them. And most of all, the founders love them. Formations of groups either voluntary or thru forced assimilation is simply a build up of bigger government. Example;
As most of you know I am an American Indian. Contrary to popular belief not a Native American. The threat of budget cutting from congressional committees forced the creation of the term "Native American". In order to maintain the status quo when dealing with government money it is extremely important to create a need. Create a need for your existence. In the American Indian case the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was threaten with congressional budget cuts. The identity and need to expand was immediate.
The term "Native American" was invented to consolidate the Pacific Islanders for mass creation and the need for bigger budgets. It was successful. Government jobs and associations were created and the need for bigger government were clearly substantiated for cover.
If the appropriate cover had been realized, we surely would have seen the existence of "The Bureau of American Christmas Trees" (BACT) creating jobs, more bureaucratic red tape, new congressional districts, a powerful lobbying committee and most important, a huge pile of tax payer money. It is a shame they didn't know what they were doing.
Perhaps they should have hired an American Indian. After all, it was we who came up with the new congressional slogan of "Native American".
Reply from The Daily Bell
As most of you know I am an American Indian. Ha - because you call yourself Injun1 maybe? :-)
Also part of the Native American thing is purely promotional, yes. The AmerIndians were evidently NOT the first people to step foot on the Americas, but the term implies they were. And this in terms (in this wacky world we live in) may provide some with a great, big payoff from the fedgov at some point. For ancestral injuries or some such thing ...
Posted by jkluttz on 11/11/11 01:45 PM
Whatever the reason the growers needed the government I'm sure in the backs of their little minds they wanted a "board" to use government force to control competition. No business or individual likes competition on the sell side. Everybody likes competition on the buy side. The US is a swamp of regulations, licenses, medallions, etc. in large part because businesses and individual professionals want easy money by limiting competition.
It could be that a free society cannot long exist for this reason alone.
Posted by Bluebird on 11/11/11 01:29 PM
I did not read the Huffinton article, but the part quoted above leaves out a very important detail about those other catchy tunes-they were thrown at us via the fed-gov as well. And we thought it was just cleaver advertising? Not in this world of today it isn't.
Thanks for being one of the few sane places on the net, Daily Bell!