Thursday, November 10, 2011

Notes from the Cave

The college basketball season is upon us, and it promises to be another fun year for this UK Wildcats fan.  Kentucky again has a slew of top recruits, and this year they also have some veteran talent - their one lacking ingredient in the past few seasons.  Hopes are definitely running high in the Bluegrass for UK's chances this year of another Final Four and Championship.  You can wait with bated breath for upcoming UK basketball blog posts from yours truly.

I saw snow tonight for the first time this season.  So that's what...November 10th?  I guess that's not too bad.  I've certainly experienced it earlier than this before, so I won't complain.  No accumulation of course, just some flurries coming down in my headlights as I drove home from work.

Is it just me, or is Rick Perry a complete idiot?  Sheesh.  If he wasn't such a douchebag, I would feel sorry for him.  How utterly embarrassing.  I sure as hell wouldn't do any better in such a debate setting, but then again, I ain't running for president.

Anybody hear about this new so-called "Christmas Tree Tax" that Ebenezer Obama wants to assail hard-working Americans with?  A friend of mine posted a link to it on Facebook, and expressed his outrage that this was, in particular, targeting "Christians."

Let me give you a bit of background, in case you don't know the story.  A blog for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Washington, put out an article slamming the Obama administration for a so-called Christmas Tree Tax.  This "tax" consists of a 15 cent surcharge on live Christmas trees sold by farmers who sell more than 500 trees per year.  The blog post refers to "Obama's Department of Agriculture" putting together this policy, and taxing Americans to pay for it, so they can help to "market Christmas trees."

(One has to wonder if "Obama's Postal Service" will get the blame the next time stamp prices go up.)

The entire tone of this well-written piece of partisan bullshit is that Obama is running amok, secretly implementing taxes on unsuspecting middle class Americans, and is so out of control that now he is now taxing Christmas.

This article has gone viral very quickly among conservative websites, and among conservatives on social media sites.  I've now seen it posted twice on Facebook, and once on a messageboard forum that I frequent.  Just more evidence, for these conservatives, of what a terrible person Obama is.  For the friend I mentioned above, he was really mad because this "targeted Christians."  Pardon my French, but are you fucking kidding me?  Christians are the only ones who buy Christmas trees?  Since when do Christmas trees have anything to do with Baby Jesus?

The truth, of course, cannot be found in the blog post by the Heritage Foundation (and no, I'm not providing a link for it, because I refuse, on principle, to provide them any direct referral traffic - Google it if you want to read it; "Christmas Tree Tax" should be sufficient).

Anyway, the truth about this is that a trade group, which represents Christmas tree farmers, has lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture for several years to help them sell more Christmas trees.  This is what the Department of Agriculture does.  We can debate all day about whether we need a Department of Agriculture in the 21st century, but for good or bad, we have one, and their purpose is to help American farmers.  As a result of lobbying by trade groups representing Christmas tree farmers, the Department of Agriculture came up with a program to help them market and promote their trees, to increase their sales.  This is because the live Christmas tree industry has been sagging for decades behind the continuing popularity of fake trees - many of which, of course, are made in fucking China.

So the Department of Agriculture puts together this marketing plan, and charges the farmers a 15 cent surcharge for each tree sold, in order to pay for the assistance that they asked for in the first place.  There is nothing unusual or unreasonable about this.  They lobbied for assistance, the Department of Agriculture responded, and they are paying a surcharge on their trees to pay for the services the federal government is providing to them.

If the farmers want to pass that surcharge along to their consumers, by adding it to their retail price, that is their prerogative, but that does not, in any way, constitute a "Christmas tree tax."  One person on the messageboard thread discussing this matter said, "Well, if they're gonna tax me to buy a Christmas tree, I guess I'll just by a fake one from China!"

I'm sorry, but if 15 cents makes you decided not to buy a live Christmas tree, you need to have your brain examined by a board-certified neurologist.

The fact is, this is exactly the kind of thing that the Department of Agriculture should be doing: putting together low-cost programs, completely paid for and not added to the national debt, to help the U.S. economy, by helping U.S. farmers sell more live Christmas trees to U.S. consumers.   This is Washington actually doing it's fucking job.  If it works, some of the money flowing out of U.S. pockets and into the vaults of Chinese manufacturing companies will now, instead, be flowing into the vaults of U.S. farmers.

The fact that the right wing can criticize this, and politicize this, and turn this into a broad-based Obama bash-fest, simply shows you where the priorities of people like this really are.

Well, enough soapbox.  And sorry for all the F-bombs.  It's an F-bomb night.

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