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Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear

Dont Taz Me Bro

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This is what people are talking about when they say radical environmentalism and the hand of government getting too heavy.

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. Peter Lowry, ebony and rosewood expert at the Missouri Botanical Garden, calls the Madagascar wood trade the "equivalent of Africa's blood diamonds." But with the new raid, the government seems to be questioning whether some wood sourced from India met every regulatory jot and tittle.

It isn't just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next.

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. 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.

Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear | Postmodern Times - WSJ.com
 

George Costanza

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OK - I am as opposed as the next guy to micro-managing environmental rules that are technical in nature and not worth having around. But the thread title here implies that guitar frets are being banned as environmentally unsafe - I picture a government goon grabbing Willie's guitar out of his hands onstage.

The quote in the OP paints a significantly different picture, involving manufacturing procedures at a large plant.
 
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CrusaderFrank

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No we dont have too big a Federal government and Nanny State.

Nope

Not at all

The government keeps us safe
 

CrusaderFrank

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220px-Jimmy_Page_early.jpg


The government protecting us from the e-vil of RnR
 

Ravi

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They are being charged with smuggling, it appears.

Why don't they buy their wood from an American tree farm?
 

Trajan

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OK - I am as opposed as the next guy to micro-managing environmental rules that are technical in nature and not worth having around. But the thread title here implies that guitar frets are being banned as environmentally unsafe - I picutre a government goon grabbing Willie's guitar out of his hands onstage.

The quote in the OP paints a significantly different picture, involving manufacturing procedures at a large plant.

:eusa_eh:I think the issue is harvesting supposedly scare resources and their being bought by Gibson and turned into geetars etc..
 

Quantum Windbag

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No we dont have too big a Federal government and Nanny State.

Nope

Not at all

The government keeps us safe

They are being charged with smuggling, it appears.

Why don't they buy their wood from an American tree farm?

They did buy it from a tree farm.

FYI, they are not being charged with smuggling.


They are not being charged with smuggling. They are being charged with breaking a law in India that India is not accusing them of breaking.

The Federal Department of Justice in Washington DC has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of US law, but because it is the Justice Departments interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal). This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

Gibson Guitar forcefully maintains innocence - Nashville Business Journal
 

flacaltenn

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OK - I am as opposed as the next guy to micro-managing environmental rules that are technical in nature and not worth having around. But the thread title here implies that guitar frets are being banned as environmentally unsafe - I picutre a government goon grabbing Willie's guitar out of his hands onstage.

The quote in the OP paints a significantly different picture, involving manufacturing procedures at a large plant.

Nope --- no such defense for this action.. Show me in OP ANYTHING other than CONSTANT harrassment of Gibson for using ANY form of rosewood or mahogany. According to our local Nashville news -- Gibson has been raided 8 or 10 times in the past 4 years (between all of their domestic plants) -- and NO MENTION of ever catching them with undocumented wood.

Feds raid Gibson Guitar Corp. in Nashville - WKRN, Nashville, Tennessee News, Weather and Sports |

During the raid in 2009, federal agents seized materials, files and computers from the plant on allegations that a rare ebony wood from Madagascar was illegally used at the factory.

No charges were ever filed

Wednesday morning, several hundred employees at the facility were first evacuated.

"We were just in our department and one of the supervisors just come in and said everybody get out and we just shut the machines off and headed out the door," one employee who did want to be identified said.

They were later told to go home after being allowed to reenter the building to collect their belongings.

The Gibson Guitar facility in Memphis was also raided by federal authorities Wednesday morning.

It is sheer harrassment -- and you can kiss American made guitars goodbye.. Because no one in there right mind is gonna put up with raids and perp walks just to build a "domestic version" of their guitar...

Vote for smaller government folks -- or you're gonna see SMALLER EMPLOYMENT!!!!
 
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code1211

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They are being charged with smuggling, it appears.

Why don't they buy their wood from an American tree farm?



They are not being charged with smuggling. The problem is that there is a law in the country of origin that demands that this would be finished prior to export by workers in the other country.

Oh, and by the way, Gibson is a non-union employer.

The Government of the USA is stating once agin that it is bad for Americans to have jobs and especially to have non-union jobs.

What the Hell is "Fish and Wildlife" doing making this raid?

The first link gives a pretty good description of the event and the unwarrented harrassment by the government of this employer.

The Gibson Guitar Raid - HUMAN EVENTS

However, a Reuters report includes some speculation that it might be a weird Justice Department interpretation of a law the Indian government has not asked the American government to enforce:

"(The government) has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department's interpretation of a law in India," Juszkiewicz said.

If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal, he said.

In an affidavit, agent John Rayfield of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said U.S. Customs agents in June detained a shipment of sawn ebony logs from India.

The paperwork accompanying the shipment identified it fraudulently as Indian ebony fingerboards for guitars and it did not say it was going to Gibson, the affidavit said.

In July, agents observed Indian ebony and rosewood delivered to a storage facility for Gibson, according to the affidavit, which asked permission to seize Gibson's business computers.

Juszkiewicz vented his frustrations to the Memphis Daily News:

“The federal bureaucracy is just out of hand,” Juszkiewicz said. “And it seems to me there’s almost a class warfare of companies versus people, rich versus poor, Republicans versus Democrats … and there’s just a lack of somebody that stands up and says, ‘I’m about everyone. I’m really about America and doing what’s good for the country and not fighting these little battles.’”

“We feel totally abused. We believe the arrogance of federal power is impacting me personally, our company personally and the employees here in Tennessee, and it’s just plain wrong.”


UNDIEPUNDIT / I've Been Doin' Some Thinkin' (IBDST): The Gibson Blues
 

flacaltenn

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Stolen from the Code1211 quote above..

“We feel totally abused. We believe the arrogance of federal power is impacting me personally, our company personally and the employees here in Tennessee, and it’s just plain wrong.”

Mark this thread.. Next time a true believer in huge govt asks where the regulation and enforcement abuse is ---- this is a great example.... I notice that all the govt loving leftists scatter about now -- like in the Raid commercials..

How would you handle a "request" from these same militarized bureaucrats asking you whether your company "acquires or incorporates Conflict Minerals into its' products".. I've got that one in my InBox right now.. One wrong answer and you might not see Ole FlaCalTenn back on the board for awhile.
 
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Dont Taz Me Bro

Dont Taz Me Bro

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Gibson needs to sue the federal government.
 

waltky

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Uncle Ferd partial to Fender guitars `cause dey use good ol' `merican wood...
:cool:
Gibson Guitar CEO fights back
September 2, 2011: Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is fuming. As he sees it, his company, the iconic maker of the Les Paul and Firebird X electronic guitars, is being unjustly attacked by the federal government.
On Aug. 24, armed agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raided two of Gibson's Tennessee production facilities and its Nashville headquarters. The agents confiscated nearly $1 million in rare Indian ebony, finished guitars and electronic data, according to Juszkiewicz. It was the second time in two years that Gibson's factories have been raided by the feds over the rare woods it uses to build its guitars. "It was a nightmare," said Juszkiewicz. "We had people sitting there making guitars. We had no weapons."

Given that the company was already dealing with the government on an earlier investigation, he said the feds should have worked with the company to make sure its procedures were in compliance. The company has always made a good-faith effort to follow the law, he said. But now Juszkiewicz isn't feeling so cooperative. The latest raid revolves around a trade issue. The wood was allegedly exported illegally because it was unfinished and too thick to be a veneer, the only unfinished wood India allows to be shipped, according to a Justice Department affidavit.

Why the U.S. government would enforce an Indian trade law can be explained by century-old legislation called the Lacey Act, which mandates that American companies observe the laws of foreign countries in the trade of many animal parts, plants and their products, including wood, which was added to the act three years ago. However, Juszkiewicz insists the wood is legal under Indian law because it's a finished product -- a fingerboard that gets attached to the neck of the guitar. He said he has letters from the Indian government to prove it.

The company hasn't been charged with wrongdoing, but Juszkiewicz said he was told that if the company sells or ships any of the Indian wood or finished guitars containing the material, it could be charged with additional violations of the Lacey Act and also with obstruction of justice. As a result, his entire operation could effectively be shut down, he said. The Justice Department said it couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation.

If Gibson were to shut down its Tennessee factories, it would put more than 700 people out of work. And Juszkiewicz will have none of that. He's keeping the factories running and told the Justice Department he will take personal responsibility for any legal liability. If anyone is arrested, he said, it will be him. "We have not been able to make some products, but I'm not going to lay people off," he said.

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