Wednesday, December 25, 2013

War On ... oh, the hell with it

And there were in the same country shepherds Christmas tree farmers abiding in the ... O hai! Wondering how the "Christmas tree 'tax'" got to be the third most super-important story of the afternoon at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network? For that, you're going to have to travel back in time a little bit -- specifically, to November 2011, when the Kenyan Muslim socialist (not pictured) had just imposed a tax on Christmas!

Or not:

The push for a Christmas tree "tax" is back.

Think there's a reason for the scare quotes?
The initiative first surfaced, and then abruptly screeched to a halt, back in 2011. Christmas tree growers at the time petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to impose a fee on trees, in order to fund a new board to promote their industry.

That's not exactly true (meaning either that Fox can't count to three or that it's randomly making stuff up again). The initiative "surfaced" in 2010, when the Ag Department asked for comments on a request by "producers and promoters" to hit themselves up for 15 cents per tree -- you're exempt if you produce fewer than 500 a year -- to start an "industry-funded promotion, research and information program," plausibly likened to the "Got Milk?" effort?

But the Obama administration sidelined it amid charges from conservatives of Christmas-time Grinchery.


Yeah, that's the thing about making stuff up: Even when the "charges from conservatives" are completely fictional, people panic.

The Hill reported Wednesday that the proposal has returned, and tree farmers once again are asking the government to impose the fee on them in order to launch a much-needed marketing program.
Or, to summarize: The tree farmers want (again) to tax themselves, with somebody else collecting the money. The cost might "trickle down" to buyers, in which case there are two main ways -- just speculating here -- that the 15-cent fee might play out:
  • The seller charges you an extra buck for a tree next year
  • The seller doesn't
Either way, it seems likely that the Kenyan horde will be held at bay through the end of 2014. That looks like an exceptionally uninteresting story -- except, of course, that in November 2011, Fox's big news was that the administration had already slapped the tax (for in those days, there were no scare quotes) on hard-working Americans. And that's really the point here. The Fox ethic relies on a fundamental belief that readers are stupid: they can't remember what they saw three minutes ago, let alone three years, but as long as the Kenyan's involved, they know who to blame. That might or might not be a good bet. 

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