Friday, September 2, 2011

Importing Banned Wood

Smuggling Banned Wood.

Trafficking illegally attain wood. Yes, that's what they say when I'm walking through airport security. I kid. I have a license to carry this concealed weapon. Anyway back to the subject of this post. It seems that Gibson Guitar's got raided over this very issue
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.

It isn't the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian's ES-150. 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."

The question in the first raid seemed to be whether Gibson had been buying illegally harvested hardwoods from protected forests, such as the Madagascar ebony that makes for such lovely fretboards. And if Gibson did knowingly import illegally harvested ebony from Madagascar, that wouldn't be a negligible offense.

Well, I guess that I can take away from all this that things are moving along so well in the economy that the federal government has nothing better to do than to put Gibson's feet to the fire.

First U.S. Attorney General Holder went after online poker and now this with fervor, yet there was nothing that happened to the bankers that ruined the economy with corporate greed. I have to say, this administration really fucking sucks. Then again, maybe we should honor him for thinking of the trees.

The issue that really effects people is that bans are retroactive. So if you have a guitar that has rosewood but was made in 1960, then you can be held accountable for it if you are traveling with it. Which is pretty much a shitty thing considering a musical instrument like that is something that is going to travel a lot.

If you were waiting in excitement for a potential Federal auction in the not so distant future, I would probably not hold your breath. Chances are they'll just destroy the items since they are made with a banned substance.

Another thing to remember is that when Michelle Obama visited her French counterpart Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Strasbourg in '09, Michelle Obama gave her a Gibson acoustic guitar, with rosewood fretboard. So it seems that our elected leaders are giving out banned items as gifts to foreign dignitaries. What next, O-man. Are you going to be smoking a Cuban cigar?

It's also odd that, well, Gibson's main competitor, Martin uses the same material and is not being raided. What's the difference? Gibson's CEO donates to Republicans; the CEO of Martin donates to Democrats.

Gibson really must have pissed off a career federal officer and is now getting ass raped on just about any mickey mouse infraction they can get fined for. I doubt this is about the political parties that they donate to and more to the point of some sort of personal vendetta.

So I'm on the fence on this one. I really can't agree with what the government is wasting their time on in this situation. This is an example of environmentalists gone crazy and this sort of harassment towards businesses needs to stop. It's not like going after a guitar maker is going to suddenly kick start the jobs market, now is it?

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