Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.
The Obama administration surely should have second thoughts about imposing -- by executive fiat, under a 1996 federal law -- a tax on fresh-cut Christmas trees that defies logic.
Quick criticism led the Obama Agriculture Department to delay a new 15-cent tax on each Christmas tree sold by producers who sell more than 500 annually. The revenue would fund a new, image- and sales-enhancing Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
Yet, as David S. Addington writes for The Heritage Foundation blog, The Foundry, "the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn't need any help from the government." That said, why is the government involved at all?
The National Christmas Tree Association, which wants the tax and the promotion board, says real trees overwhelmingly outsold fake trees, their only real competition, in 2010 -- 27 million, worth $976 million at retail, vs. 8.2 million, worth $530 million -- and the economy has little effect on real trees' sales.
It would be a pointless tax. Yet Agriculture disingenuously denies it would be a tax, despite -- as Mr. Addington points out -- mandating its payment and directing its revenue.
Only bureaucrats enamored of any and all taxes would even consider such idiocy. They richly deserve the coal they'll find in their Christmas stockings.
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