At a time when one might think the federal government had better things to do than further meddle is a sour economy, we’ve got bureaucrats imposing a new tax to promote Christmas trees:
President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees — the Christmas Tree Tax — to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.
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)).
Although not a Christian, I welcome those, including the Governor of Wisconsin who wish to dub a festive pine tree decorated during the days preceding and immediately followed the Winter Solstice as a Christmas Tree. The First Amendment protects those individuals’ free exercise of religion.
It is, however, none of the federal government’s business to promote this holiday symbol. To be sure, it should protect the rights of those individuals who wish to display it. (And the ACLU who should be opposing this silly measure has yet to get injunctions against private homeowners who proudly decorate their trees.) It’s not just the tax that’s the issue. It’s the waste of federal resources.
And it does seem that whenever governments starts “promoting” an industry, federal officials soon start meddling. Ed Driscoll wonders if “the administration be raiding Christmas tree dealers, a la their raids on an other famous wood-based merchant?”
Doug Powers quips that if “real tree sales don’t pick up as a result of this initiative, look for a ‘cash for artificial tree clunkers’ program to be introduced by next Christmas to get the faux alternatives off the streets.”
Meanwhile, yours truly sees this as just another sign that it’s long past time to scale back the federal government. Significantly.
If these bureaucrats have nothing better to do than to cook up programs to promote an industry which seems to be doing quite well, then what are they doing drawing salaries from a federal treasury deep in the red?
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey doesn’t mince words when mocking this plan:
Government doesn’t belong in the advertising business for any private-sector product, and the last thing we need right now is another bureaucracy spending tax dollars.
Read the whole thing!