Gibson Guitars gets “crucified”
The long persecution of Gibson Guitars by the Obama Administration has finally come to a close, with the battered company agreeing to pay a $300,000 fine to bring a three-year Justice Department investigation to a close. The settlement includes $50,000 paid to a federal conservation fund, and the surrender of the valuable wood seized in federal raids, which is worth several hundred thousand dollars. According to some media reports, Gibson might have a chance to recover some of the wood.
The case, as summarized by the Examiner:
Two central issues were at play in the government’s claims against Gibson. Justice claimed in the first instance that the fingerboards Gibson imported from India were unfinished. The guitar fingerboards would thus require finishing by American workers once they reached the United States. But India’s laws require exported fingerboards to be finished by its own workers prior to shipment.
The Obama administration insisted that Indian law be followed. Gibson maintained it was more important to protect and create American jobs by allowing American workers to conduct the finishing process.
Justice further claimed that Gibson had violated international environmental laws by using ebony from Madagascar and India. And when Justice announced today the settlement with Gibson, U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin stated, “The criminal enforcement agreement goes a long way in demonstrating the government’s commitment to protecting the world’s natural resources.”
This is perfectly in keeping with the central economic theory of the Obama Administration, memorably described as “crucifixion” by former EPA official Al Armendariz in a video the public was never supposed to see. “It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean,” Armendariz explained. “They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them.”
It’s still rather vague why the Obama Administration’s centurions rode into Gibson’s little Turkish town, because the extremely fine hair-splitting of the company’s Lacey Act “violation” boiled down to whether the fingerboards were finished or not. That doesn’t sound as if it has much to do with “conservation.” There is still considerable debate whether the Lacey Act was applicable here at all.
Naturally, despite having just threatened the jobs of American wood finishers, the Obama Justice Department issued a statement congratulating itself for painfully instructing Gibson on “its duty under the U.S. Lacey Act to guard against the acquisition of wood of illegal origin by verifying the circumstances of its harvest and export, which is good for American business and American consumers.”
Gibson would seem to disagree with just how good this Orwellian misadventure has been for American business, since company present Henry Juszkiewicz, a committed conservationist, explicitly stated he was throwing in the towel because the federal government had ground him into the dirt. “The alternative was pretty onerous,” he said of the settlement, as quoted by the New York Times. “We would have had to have gone to trial and we would have been precluded from buying wood from our major source country. For the ability to carry on with the business and remove this onerous Sword of Damocles, if you will, we feel this is about as good a settlement as we can get.”
Well, if you’re going to run your Roman legion of regulators through a corporate village to decimate a great American enterprise, you might as well bring the Sword of Damocles. Suspicions that Gibson Guitars’ real crime was locating its operations in right-to-work Tennessee remain. The remainder of the American business community should be comforted to know that a highly-respected company can be persecuted for years, subjected to multiple armed raids, and suffer nearly half a million dollars in losses because a bureaucrat decides they’re guilty of a “crime” no one can explain, after a “violation” no one complained about, of a law that ostensibly champions conservationist principles the CEO wholeheartedly endorses. I just can’t understand why nobody is hiring in Obama’s America.