Let’s Just Lie — ‘Christmas Tree Tax’

Here’s how propaganda works. You start with a narrative, and then you twist every current events story to confirm the narrative. Here is an example: the ‘Christmas Tree Tax.’

Narrative: “Democrats tax and spend.” Second narrative, “Democrats hate Christians.”

Current event: The Christmas tree industry wants to promote natural Christmas trees because more and more people are using artificial trees. So they all got together and agreed to chip in and do a joint promotion, like the “Got Milk?” campaign by milk producers. They needed agriculture department approval before doing this jointly, and it just came through. Details: Christmas tree farmers hope ads will stem growth of artificial trees

Following an extended debate that pit one region against another, the Agriculture Department on Tuesday gave the green light to a new industry-funded Christmas tree promotion program.

By taxing themselves, growers will raise $2 million a year for ads promoting the merits of real, live trees. Or, at least, trees that once were living, as opposed to the artificial kind that have seized an increasing share of the holiday market.

… Akin to similar programs that promote milk, beef and cotton, the new Christmas tree program will impose on U.S. domestic producers and importers an initial fee of 15 cents per tree.
A 12-member board will direct the money to generic ads and other promotions, as well as research. The promotions, according to the Agriculture Department, will present “a favorable image of Christmas trees to the general public,” with the intent of improving the public “perception” of Christmas trees and, hence, their sales.

The propaganda campaign: The Heritage Foundation, never a fount of truth, took this and turned it into a “Christmas Tree Tax.” Heritage: Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax,

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.

Look at the flat-out lie in that sentence: the Department will “impose” a tax. The industry asked the department to be allowed to chip in, but Heritages turns this into an Ayn Randian, “taxes are theft” statement. They conclude their statement with “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?”

The propaganda-propelling machine: Remember as you read the following that the industry requested this, and was waiting for Ag Department approval, to help them promote natural over artificial trees.

Look at this huge headline at Drudge. Look at the racial-imagery choice of a picture. With this at Drudge, you can be sure the right’s propaganda machine will propel this lie across the world faster than truth can get its boots on.

Politico dutifully echoes: USDA OKs Christmas tree tax

Fox does its duty: Obama’s New ‘Christmas Tree Tax’

More Fox: Merry Christmas? Agriculture Department Imposes Christmas Tree Tax


Forbes: Scrooge Comes Early This Year With “Christmas Tree Tax”

Cato: Yes, Virginia, There Is a Christmas Tree Tax

Watch the narrative explode at the Conservatives4Palin site: Obama’s New Christmas Tree Tax, Big Government Has Officially Exploded

Limbaugh isn’t on the air yet, but I suspect this will lead the show.

About Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Founder and principal author at Seeing the Forest, and a blogger at Speak Out California. Dave is a frequent public speaker and talk-radio guest and a leading participant in the progressive blogging community. He does a regular weekly segment on the popular Fairness Doctrine radio show. A featured contributor at Huffington Post, his work also appears at many other sites including TruthOut, AlterNet, Smirking Chimp and Common Dreams. Currently Dave is a Senior Fellow with Renew California working on progressive messaging, a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, where he writes about issues involving American manufacturing, trade, what might be called industrial policy. In another life Dave helped co-found Carbon Tracing, Inc., a company developing the desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US. Before this, Dave had over over 20 years of technology industry experience and has previously held senior industry positions including CEO and VP of Sales and Marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic, and he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers.
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2 Responses to Let’s Just Lie — ‘Christmas Tree Tax’

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