Not From the Onion: The Christmas Tree War

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty. Click image to expand.
From Slate

The war between artificial and natural Christmas trees has been going on for years and the artificial trees are winning. The National Christmas Tree Association, the association of natural trees, has been trying to fight back with “information” campaigns like What You Might Not Know About Fake Christmas Trees. Some samples: they are made in China, by exploited workers, with lead!  And my favorite:

…fake trees were invented by a company who made toilet bowl brushes…regardless of how far the technology has come, it’s still interesting to know the first fake Christmas trees were really just big green toilet bowl brushes.

The National Christmas Tree Association, however, has a problem. Christmas trees are produced in a competitive industry with many small firms so there’s no big firm willing to bear the costs of a national ad campaign. (The artificial tree lobby group, The American Christmas Tree Association has a noticeably more professional website and a better name.)  Thus, following the lead of milk, cotton and California raisin producers, the natural Christmas tree industry lobbied the Dept. of Agriculture to create the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The DOA agreed and authorized the board to create a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace,” to be financed by a tax on Christmas tree producers (=>500 sales) of 15 cents per tree.

The Christmas tree tax outraged conservatives such as David Addington, formerly Cheney’s chief of staff and once called “the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” Addington argued:

The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs.  Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?

Not surprisingly other conservatives labeled this a Grinch tax and a tax on Christmas. Other people (liberals?) attacked the tax as promoting Christianity which I find strange since I always thought of the Christmas tree as a pagan symbol. Oh well.

Finally, the Obama administration put the program on hold. (Amateurs – don’t they know taxes are raised after elections not before?). So there you have it, American politics in a nutshell.

Hat tip: Joshua Hedlund.

Addendum: Here is Rush, The Trees, just because.


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