Sign of the Times: Santa Fired Due To Budget Cuts While Administration Moves To Tax Christmas Trees

Suffolk County, New York has taken the budget cuts to a new low: firing Santa David McKell, 83, to save $660. Fortunately, the Obama Administration is continuing our spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan so McKell could still look for a job from Halliburton, though Santa positions tend to be limited.


McKell is a World War II veteran and former homicide police detective who has been the local Santa on Long Island for more than nine years.

[Update: Steven Colbert appears to have stepped in to cover the costs. However, I would prefer freeing up those billions being sent in our continuing wars].

To complete the seasonal onslaught, President Barack Obama has announced a new Christmas tree tax. At first I thought that it was a tax designed to cover the environmental costs of such harvesting. I love fresh trees at Christmas but would be happy to pay extra to deal with the environmental costs. However, this new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees will go to improving the image and marketing of Christmas trees. The government will create a new “Christmas Tree Promotion Board.” The Administration explains that he purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)).

It is of course remarkably dumb in an election year during the holiday season to announce such a tax but this White House appears the most politically tone-deaf Administration in decades. To make it even more incomprehensible, they announce the tax, take widespread criticism, and then the next day they announce that they will delay (though not cancel) the tax. In the end, however, I am most interested in whether we really need a new Board or to subsidize an industry’s image building at a time of economic distress. It is not the 15 cents per tree. I thought we were trying to reduce government. The Administration is slashing scientific and educational programs, but we really need a Christmas Tree Promotion Board?

Source: BDtonline as first seen on Reddit.

50 thoughts on “Sign of the Times: Santa Fired Due To Budget Cuts While Administration Moves To Tax Christmas Trees

  1. Professor how does this effect separation of church and state the governments position is it’s suppose to promote Christmas.

  2. Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

  3. As someone who has worked as a Budget Director in a municipal agency it boggles my mind how saving $660 by firing a p/t Santa Claus even got put on the table. The amount represents 1 weeks pay for a county worker. Budget cutting never gets to that microcosmic level. What were they thinking? How could this be seen as a positive move?

  4. Right wing media launches fake Obama Christmas tree tax, according to media matters. They want to show Obama is anti-Christmas and anti-christian.

    Thats how it’s coming off but really it’s just another slap in the face of the constitution from someone who is suppose to be a constitutional attorney.

  5. Speaking of coming off, how do you think this is coming off as.

    David Gregory: No “Grand Wizard” In GOP To Force Cain Out

  6. There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar. – Molly Ivins

  7. Swarthmore Mom,

    Following up on your Media Matters story:

    Artificial War On Christmas Campaign Launches Fake Obama “Christmas Tree Tax”
    November 09, 2011 12:38 am ET by Jeremy Holden
    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201111090001?frontpage

    Excerpt:
    Right-wing media figures are accusing the Obama administration of seeking to impose a tax on Christmas trees; but the Christmas tree industry has been working since 2008 — before President Obama was elected — to partner with the Department of Agriculture and establish a marketing campaign funded by tree growers in order to promote the sale of fresh Christmas trees.

    *****

    Thanks for that link.

  8. Jesus H Christ … a tax on Christmas trees so that the Christmas Tree Industry can run an ad campaign? This is the most ridiculous thing I expect to learn today.

    Here’s a little history:

    According to the History Channel special on Christmas, the holiday was seen as such an English tradition that after the American Revolution it fell into some disfavor in the United States. Congress even held sessions on Christmas Day.

    The first three states to make Christmas a legal holiday were in the South: Alabama in 1836, Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838. (Many Northerners saw sin in the celebration of Christmas; to these people the celebration of Thanksgiving was more appropriate. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season.)

    President Abraham Lincoln asked Harper’s Magazine’s illustrator Thomas Nast to create a drawing of Santa with some Union soldiers. This image of Santa supporting the enemy had a demoralizing influence on the Confederate army — an early example of psychological warfare.

    Christmas is the only Congressionally-recognized religious holiday and we owe that bit of genius to President Grant who signed the bill into law on June 28, 1870.

    Now a tax to pay for an ad campaign for live Christmas Trees. Corporate Welfare at its finest.

    Hey, if you’re dumb enough to pay it don’t bitch when 4 years down the road it becomes 15 cents a foot.

  9. Jonathan,
    I posted a comment to your 06/06/2011 report last week, and it is still awaiting moderation. I just wanted to alert you to check it out. There had been several videos of the news casts of the incident on youtube, but somebody has recently been getting them removed.

  10. Here’s the latest headlines

    AP Exclusive: Accuser filed complaint in next job

    One accuser works for Obama…

    Another lived in same building as Axelrod

  11. I see this story as indicative of what is going wrong in our society. The governing elites are stealing money, sometimes legally, often not, from the people to line their own coffers. In order to squeeze out every last dime, ordinary people are losing everything. We are going under.

    “Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”
    Proverb, American Indian

    We can’t let this happen.

  12. Elaine M. 1, November 9, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Nodoublestandard,

    You can post a maximum of two links in a comment–otherwise, it goes into moderation status.
    ==========================
    And there are no moderates watching that cue.

    It is kinda like what the famous lineman said about coach Bear Bryant: “he is very fair, he treats all of us like garbage”. ;)

  13. Obama/Biden, Cain/Gingrich–unless we vote any combination of these bastards from office down to dog catcher, ladies and gentlemen, look out!

    “Comment from ACLU Attorney Attending Al-Nashiri Hearing at Guantánamo
    Military Commissions Especially Unfit to Try Death Penalty Cases, Says ACLU

    GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba – November 9 – The American Civil Liberties Union is at Guantánamo today to monitor the pretrial proceedings of Abd al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri, who could face the death penalty if convicted. No capital case has been completed by the Guantánamo military commissions. Al-Nashiri, who was tortured while in U.S. custody, is accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

    Zachary Katznelson, senior staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, is at Guantánamo observing al-Nashiri’s hearing. “This military commission threatens to put someone to death based on coerced evidence and hearsay. That is no way to run a trial, let alone convince the world that America is committed to justice.” Katznelson said. “Terrorism suspects should be tried in our time-tested federal courts, and that is especially true where the government is seeking to impose the death penalty.”

  14. Bda,

    What??!! No Corporate welfare for the live Christmas Tree Industry … what’s this nation coming too? They should have changed their name to The Live Christmas Tree Bank and claimed they were too big to fail without a federally funded ad campaign.

  15. Swarthmore mom 1, November 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201111090001?frontpage Right wing media launches fake Obama Christmas tree tax, according to media matters. They want to show Obama is anti-Christmas and anti-christian.

    Obama Administration to Delay New 15-Cent Christmas Tree ‘Fee’

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/11/obama-administration-to-delay-new-15-cent-christmas-tree-fee/

    Ok now he’s anti Christmas and anti Christian for not wanting to promote Christmas Trees :)

  16. Mike Spindell wrote: As someone who has worked as a Budget Director in a municipal agency it boggles my mind how saving $660 by firing a p/t Santa Claus even got put on the table. The amount represents 1 weeks pay for a county worker. Budget cutting never gets to that microcosmic level. What were they thinking? How could this be seen as a positive move. If you want people to accept higher taxes, direct your budget cuts at areas where the cuts will be obviously visibile, like dropping Santa. Nobody may notice that the grass isn’t mowed as often as it used to be, but they’ll notice there wasn’t a santa this year.

  17. The Department of Agriculture is little more than a lobby group/advertising agency that works also to facilitate subsidies to the food/farming industry. The problem isn’t the tax, its DoA. I’m for getting rid of DoA.

  18. no section 52 but they do Kiwi

    [Code of Federal Regulations]
    [Title 7, Volume 10]
    [Revised as of January 1, 2002]
    From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
    [CITE: 7CFR1214.200]

    [Page 119]

    TITLE 7–AGRICULTURE

    CHAPTER XI–AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (MARKETING AGREEMENTS AND
    ORDERS; MISCELLANEOUS COMMODITIES), DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

    PART 1214–KIWIFRUIT RESEARCH, PROMOTION, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION ORDER–Table of Contents

    Subpart C–Procedure for the Conduct of Referenda in Connection With the
    Kiwifruit Research, Promotion, and Consumer Information Order

    Sec. 1214.200 General.

    A referendum to determine whether eligible producers and importers
    favor the issuance of a proposed Kiwifruit Research, Promotion, and
    Consumer Information Order shall be conducted in accordance with this
    subpart.

  19. “I thought we were trying to reduce government.”

    Really? So, maybe we can just let all lower court judges go. Problem? Oh, it’s a matter of WHAT the government does. Oh okay.

    As the Media Matters story notes, the tree industry itself supported the measure, which is trivial (.15? real trees can cost over $60 … who the heck cares about .15?) and was planned to be given a trial run.

    This is a big deal, why? As to “politically tone-deaf,” not really seeing how the Bush Administration was so much better overall. Fail.

  20. Thanks Elaine! I reposted it leaving out links to a news report of a little girl who was arrested and taken to jail in Fort Myers because she had a temper tantrum. Nobody was hurt, but the girl is Black, so I guess that is why she was arrested. You can google and find links to the story, or, if not, I can put them in another post.

  21. Sounds harsh to me. Should point out though that there’s more to the economics of war than meets the eye.

    The consumables, ammo mainly, has already been paid for and has a shelf life; a lot of target practice is using up ammo that has to be used up. Likewise the savings from not fighting a war have to be offset by the running costs of keeping a modern army ready.

    This isn’t to justify the various wars but just to point out that the money saved from not fighting is less than one might think; still a substantial sum though.

    I also think the wars we’re fighting are wrong. I wouldn’t blame the Iranians for building nuclear weapons, if they actually had them the US wouldn’t be so keen to go in.

  22. Wow…way to fall for a Right-wing manufactured outrage

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/39411_Fake_Outrage_Du_Jour-_Obamas_Christmas_Tree_Tax

    I’m disappointed that you would fall for this Professor Turley. I certainly appreciate your great commentary about the Obama admin with regards to their horrible record on civil liberties, whistle-blowers, and the horrid US citizen assassinations, but this is beneath you.

    If anyone doubts that the Christmas tree growers requested this, read for yourself:

    http://www.christmastree.org/11_PR7.pdf

  23. The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have taken the early retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

    Reindeer downsizing has been made possible through acquisition of technology in the form of a late model Japanese sled for the annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer is anticipated now that they have completed Technical Expert Interactive Video Training and will mentor the other reindeer with the help of two Management Support Specialists. Reindeer will attend weekly staff meetings in order to learn to work smarter, not harder. The first such meeting will include viewing of “Who Moved My Cheese?” A second meeting will be required, so a Psychologist can explain the video in great detail.

    Reduction in reindeer will lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press. Not having to respond to unfavorable press will allow the Management Support Specialists to begin pulling lists and checking them twice.

    Rudolph’s Technical Expert role will not be disturbed. Bennie The Brown-Nosed Reindeer has been shadowing Rudolph in preparation for assuming his role. The evaluation that “Bennie can run as fast as Rudolph, but he can’t stop as fast as Rudolph” was unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa’s helpers and taken out of context.

    As a further restructuring, today’s productivity goals require the North Pole to continue looking for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” Cadre:

    The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out work units forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

    The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

    The three French hens represent Eurocentric ethnicity. As they retire, we will target Asian song birds in order to gain bilingual bicultural diversity.

    The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call-waiting option. Management Support Specialists are conducting an analysis to determine whom the birds have been calling, how often, and how long they talked.

    The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Deputy Commissioner. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for privatizing with investment counselors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks appears to be in order.

    The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury, which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in Work Units Per Worker Year. Three geese will be retired, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one.

    The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new tally strokes and therefore enhance their outplacement.

    The eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-consulting, a-mentoring or a-adjudicating.

    Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

    Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest outsourcing this work to private industry. Meanwhile incumbent Lords-a-leaping will be designated as Leaping Support Specialists, because Congress has sought a reduction in the Lords-a-Leaping ratio.

    Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line. The eight maids-a-milking will playing cowbells during spike periods.

    Expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved. Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney*s association seeking expansion to include the legal profession (“thirteen lawyers-a-representing”), review is pending by a committee of Management Support Specialists.

    Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive with the private sector. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Pilot. We may end the Pilot and acquire an additional seven Management Support Dwarfs.

    Subordinate Claus
    Operations Supervisor
    By Direction of Santa Claus

    Compliance Copy to: Penalty Claus
    Management Support Specialist

    Transcribed but not read in order to speed mailing.

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