Sunday, August 12, 2012

'Gangsta' Government: Stringing Up Gibson Guitars

For my final installment on government regulation strangulation, here's what happens when you are not making contributions to Obama's re-election bid, when you're not bundling $500,000 in campaign "donations"  to the Democrat coffers:

Last August 24, without warning,  30 federal agents with guns and bulletproof vests stormed the Gibson guitar factories in Tennessee. They shut down production, sent workers home, seized boxes of raw materials and nearly 100 guitars, and ultimately cost our company $2 million to $3 million worth of products and lost productivity. Why? Because Gibson imported wood from India to make guitars in America.
Can you believe that? This was a SWAT team raid on an American business--this was a police raid with the government agents acting like they were storming the doors of murderers, drug dealers, or dangerous criminals instead of a respected guitar factory in Nashville, Tennessee.
Growing businesses face a number of hurdles in today's economy. For Gibson Guitar—a company that has created more than 580 American jobs in the last two years—the largest hurdle is the federal government.

The Aug. 24 raid was authorized under the Lacey Act. Originally enacted as a means to curb the poaching of endangered species, the law bans wildlife and plants from being imported if, according to the interpretation of federal bureaucrats, the importation violates a law in the country of origin.

The fingerboards of Gibson guitars are made with wood that is imported from India. The wood seized during the Aug. 24 raid, however, was from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified supplier, meaning the wood complies with FSC's rules requiring that it be harvested legally and in compliance with traditional and civil rights, among other protections. Indian authorities have provided sworn statements approving the shipment, and U.S. Customs allowed the shipment to pass through America's border to our factories.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to enforce its own interpretation of Indian law, arguing that because the fingerboards weren't finished in India, they were illegal exports. In effect, the agency is arguing that to be in compliance with the law, Gibson must outsource the jobs of finishing craftsmen in Tennessee.
In America alone, there are over 4,000 federal criminal offenses. Under the Lacey Act, for instance, citizens and business owners also need to know—and predict how the U.S. federal government will interpret—the laws of nearly 200 other countries on the globe as well.
Many business owners have inadvertently broken obscure and highly technical foreign laws, landing them in prison for things like importing lobster tails in plastic rather than cardboard packaging (the violation of that Honduran law earned one man an eight-year prison sentence). Cases like this make it clear that the justice system has strayed from its constitutional purpose: stopping the real bad guys from bringing harm.
Here's what Mr. Juszkiewicz is the CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp has to say about the government raid on his factory:
Policy makers must stop criminalizing capitalism. This begins by stopping the practice of creating new criminal offenses, or wielding obscure foreign laws, as a method of regulating businesses.
Especially in a bearish economy, entrepreneurs need to be able to operate without the fear that inadvertently breaking an obscure regulation or unknowingly violating a foreign statute could shut down their company and land them or their employees in jail.
These kinds of actions, enforcing these obscure and often unncessary regulations which stifle American business and sometimes force them to go overseas or go out-of-business, end up costing you the taxpayer over $200 billion dollars annually.

The Lacey Act is the product of environmentalist whackos who care more about endangered species  than about the livelihood of over 500 workers at Gibson's Nashville factory. If these Gibson employees lost their jobs because of burdensome regulation like the Lacey Act, it wouldn't change the thinking of these environmentalist crazies whose one goal is to destroy the U.S. economy and turn America into a 3rd world country because these environmentalists worship creatures like spotted owls, snail, fish, etc. rather than Almighty God who created us in His image. Their skewed view of the world and the order of creation has placed creatures on the top of the food chain and man at the very bottom.


  1. You might want to actually read the government documents on the case so you could speak intelligently. As to guns, yes. Fish and Wildlife agents are required to care sidearms. Bulletproof vests? I didn't see any in the pictures I saw (although some right wing media published pictures of other SWAT type raids along with their discussion of this case), and of course numerous sources called it a SWAT raid, but to have a SWAT raid you would have actually had to have a SWAT team there.

    And of course the raid wasn't because they were importing wood from India but rather a series of suspicious import documentation linked to that wood and other shipments, but you'd actually have to read the affidavit for the search warrant to understand that. Much easier to read your favorite right wing blog and have them tell you what to think.

    But I think I understand your definition of capitalism. A company should be allowed to do what they want regardless of the laws that are in place, and if that gives them a competitive advantage over their competitors who are obeying the rules all the better. You call that capitalism. I call that organized crime.

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    2. Anonymous:
      First off, here is how this story was reported by NPR (hardly right-wing):

      Last week federal marshals RAIDED the Gibson Guitar Corporation in Tennessee...

      And this is from the NY Times (Aug. 8, 2012--again, hardly a right-wing rag):
      Regarding the Justice Dept.'s settlement with Gibson Guitars:
      "The Criminal Enforcement Agreement also reveals that the government might have exercised more discretion in its 2011 enforcement effort. Though Gibson’s use in 2011 of the same German wood supplier that provided it with the 2009 seized shipment and irregularities in the shipping paperwork might have justified the government’s suspicions, the illegality (or legality) of the 2011 shipment WAS FAR FROM OBVIOUS. (For an illustrated guide to the 2011 case, see my article in the ABA Journal.)

      As the government concedes in the agreement, “certain questions and inconsistencies now exist regarding” the legality of the Indian wood. Consequently, the government has resolved that it “will not undertake enforcement actions related to Gibson’s future orders, purchases, or imports of [wood] from India, unless and until the Government of India provides specific clarification” regarding its legality or illegality."

      So Anonymous, even the U.S. government in their criminal settlement with Gibson CONCEDES that their findings had inconsistencies regarding legality of the Indian wood and that they should have exercised MORE DISCRETION in their law enforcement effort."

      And Anonymous, the NYT's writer says the "government's suspicions on the illegality or legality of the shipment was FAR FROM OBVIOUS."

      Finally, this WAS A RAID, and those are the words used by the NYTimes and NPR. Also, when a letter or phone call would've sufficed, the government did an OVERKILL and an OVER-REACH on a questionable regulation at best, which was to satisfy environmentalist whackos.

      As for upholding the laws, it might help if our lawless Justice Dept would start obeying the law. In the past year, Holder and the DOJ have given ample evidence that the Justice Dept. is the last place you go for justice. But,that's another post.