Vol. 1, Issue 32, December 23, 2003
The Joy of Liquid Shrimp!

Justice Department Alleges Poinsettia Monopoly

In a press conference yesterday the Justice Department announced it has begun an investigation into the sale and distribution of seasonal plants, in particular the poinsettia industry.

"People may not think there's any harm in buying a decorative plant for the Christmas holidays," said Justice Department spokesman Albert Feinnes, "but every time they do so they are in fact supporting one of the most perfidious operations to take root in American industry since Standard Oil."

According to documents released by the Justice Department, poinsettias were but one of several holiday plants traditionally employed to provide Christmas cheer. However other favorites, such as holly and mistletoe, were quietly crowded out of the marketplace over the past 30 years, to the extent that they are no longer available commercially.

"Holly, in fact, which used to grow like Kudzu up north, is now so rare that it's been placed on the Endangered Species List. Coincidence? I think not, ladies and gentlemen," said Feinnes.

According to the allegations, the descendants of Dr. Joel Poinsett - who first imported the plant to North America over a hundred years ago - had squandered his estate by the 1960s and began to desperately boost their family business by any means necessary.

"First it was just a little double-bookkeeping," said Feinnes. "Then some strong-arm tactics and a working alliance with the Teamsters. Lately, it's progressed to crop sabotage and extortion. Where, I ask you, will it end?"

Marisa Poinsett, vice-president for the Poinsett Plant Distribution Co., Ltd., disputes these allegations and claims that it is actually the Christmas tree industry which is to blame.

"This is just the latest in a long series of slanderous accusations designed to harm our business," said Poinsett. "We are still fighting to counter the false rumor that poinsettia plants are toxic. We've endured mechanical problems with our trucks, intimidation of our distributors and a truckload of South American poinsettia-eating beetles that just "happened" to find their way to our fields last year. I'm telling you, we ought to sue."

One argument that supports the Justice Department's argument, say observers, is the 300% price rise in poinsettias in recent years.

"It's hard to categorize businesses which specialize in seasonal products like this," said Brandeis economist Harvey Klein. "It's hard to instill new holiday traditions, and with the public's reluctance to accept genetically modified plants, it's unlikely that the poinsettia will have any natural competitors in terms of appearance."

Feinnes was undeterred, and said the investigation is already underway.

"Consider this," he concluded. The poinsettia industry is based in California. Do I need to say anything more?"

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