Is it any wonder that American business is dying? Is it any surprise that China and India (not to mention several European nations, Asia et al.) are eclipsing the United States in entrepreneurial activity, wealth creation and business friendliness?
A story like this tells us everything that is wrong with the federal government:
(WSJ) (Memeo) Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson's chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company's manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. "The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier," he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.
In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms."
....But with the new raid, the government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India met every regulatory jot and tittle.
Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent—not to mention face fines and prosecution.
Potentially illegal Indian ebony wood? Oh my.
The WSJ also includes an extremely spooky, related story in the link above:
Consider the recent experience of Pascal Vieillard, whose Atlanta-area company, A-440 Pianos, imported several antique Bösendorfers. Mr. Vieillard asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to fill out the correct paperwork—which simply encouraged them to alert U.S. Customs to give his shipment added scrutiny.
There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys. But Mr. Vieillard didn't have his paperwork straight when two-dozen federal agents came calling.
Facing criminal charges that might have put him in prison for years, Mr. Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, and was handed a $17,500 fine and three years probation.
The delicious irony here is that a lot of musicians -- and creative musical types -- are raging libs that vote in ludicrous gunpoint-enforced laws like this.
Now, when their houses are raided (or companies) and they face airport coercion and molestation, they know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of government largess.
Update (by Proof): I saw this story. I started to comment and then the comment kept growing. Full disclosure: I owned a Gibson twelve string back in the early 80's.
It's sad that the oxymoron known as the Obama Justice Department won't protect the integrity of our voting system by prosecuting hate crimes committed at polling places (if the offender is a certain race or color), won't uphold the integrity of our borders against illegal immigration, failed miserably against tracking illegal gun sales to Mexico, (even encouraging and expediting them), but will enforce laws against raw milk producers and now, regulations about where wood comes from for a musical instrument.
Note to guitar pickers: The cost of your next Gibson just went up.
Note to Gibson employees: The Feds just gave your boss another reason to ship your jobs overseas.
Have a nice day!
Update II (by Proof): According to Doug Ross, campaign contributions (or the lack thereof) may have contributed to the raid(s).
One of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Company. The C.E.O., Chris Martin IV, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the past couple of election cycles. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood.” In case you were wondering, that is the exact same wood in at least ten of Gibson’s guitars.
It's good to know that the oxymoronically named Obama Justice Department is above being used to punish one's political opponents or reward partisan political support. /sarcasm
Cross posted. More at Memeorandum