UPDATE: Just one day after the announcement that the federal government was imposing a special tax on live Christmas trees, they’ve changed their mind. Quoting Fox news:
White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told Fox News Wednesday afternoon that the administration is putting a stop to the proposal.
“I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign,” he said. “That said, USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action.”
What follows is my original commentary:
Well, the winter holiday season is nearly upon us: all the retail giants have smacked their store floors with the Christmas stick, the weather is turning colder, most of the trees have lost their leaves, and the federal government is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong… again.
Yesterday the US Agricultural Department announced that it was imposing a new tax on the sale of live Christmas trees. Why this new tax, you may ask? Well, it is going to be used to fund the “Christmas Tree Promotion Board”, which is a collection of growers and sellers of live Christmas trees in the US. This board has existed for a while, but has had problems raising funds internally to pay for their activities, and have seen a sharp decline in sales revenue due to competition from artificial tree manufacturers.
Let me restate what is going on here with a similar example that resonates more with me… Doughnuts. Let’s say all the companies in the US that make doughnuts are feeling the pressure from healthier muffin makers. The doughnut makers want to increase sales, but their product is suffering in the marketplace. So they all form a committee with members from each company to come up with ideas of how to boost sales. They all universally agree that the way to sell more doughnuts is to advertise more, but they also agree that nobody wants to actually pay for advertising. So they lobby the government to impose a small tax on their doughnuts. This tax is then used to pay for advertising to sell more doughnuts.
How in the world does this seem like a good idea to anyone? When my business wants to purchase advertising, my business PAYS for it – and that’s the way it SHOULD be. When my business sees healthy competition, I must innovate and become more competitive, not run to the government crying for more money. It is sickening to me to see an entire industry stuck with an entitlement mentality.
The federal government has NO business interfering with a specific industry in this manner. If live Christmas tree growers want to promote their industry, they should do what everyone else does: pay for their own promotion and growth and innovation. Involving the federal government in this manner only serves to further prove that entitlements are horrifyingly out of control, the federal government has grown WAY too large, and the result are more problems than solutions.
I hope you’ll join me this year in proudly displaying an artificial Christmas tree.
Oh, and Merry Christmas!