Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Joke writers received an early Christmas present this week when the Obama Administration announced plans to levy a tax on Christmas. Actually, the tax was not on Christmas, precisely, but on Christmas trees.

And not on all Christmas trees, just on real, “cut” Christmas trees as opposed to the artificial variety. Seems people prefer artificial trees. Sales of “fresh” trees have fallen significantly in recent years, while artificial tree sales nearly doubled from 2003 to 2007.

So, the folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a 15-cent-per-tree tax on “producers and importers” of 500 trees or more. The money would go into an advertising campaign to promote freshly-cut real trees over artificial ones.

But is it even a tax?

“I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees,” declared White House spokesman Matt Lehrich. “What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign . . .”

But Jim Harper of the Cato Institute asked and answered the essential question: “Do Christmas tree farmers go to jail if they refuse to pay? Yes. It’s a tax.”

Once joke writers and commentators and real people (as opposed to the artificial variety) got wind of it, the tax/non-tax was scuttled with an announcement that “USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action.”

Don’t bother. As Robert Childress of the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association posits, “I feel that marketing for my products is my responsibility . . .”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Drik says:

    Thought that only Congress could levy taxes.
    And only in the government would you find people who think that by taxing something that you would get more of it.

  2. Jay says:

    So the USDA will not promote real Xmas trees.

    Why not continue in that direction and stop promoting citrus, cotton, etc– and let the producers promote or not?

    And all the other things that are mind boggling?

  3. Paul Jacob says:

    Drik — Good point. USDA has no constitutional authority to levy a tax.

    Jay — You’re a man after my own heart. Of course, the USDA should stop taxing businesses (whether trees, cotton, milk, you name it) involuntarily to advertise their products.

  4. Drik says:

    System is screwed up where the government does what it wants and then the individual citizens have to prove that what it has been doing is unconstitutional. The government has access to taxpayer dollars from the whole country to draw from while we have to pay out of pocket. Onus should be on them to show that what they are doing IS constitutional (and none of that rubber-stamp “necessary and proper” or “interstate commerce” stuff.

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