I noticed on the news today that the offices and factories of Gibson Guitars in Nashville and Memphis Tennessee were both raided yesterday (8/24) by armed federal agents, forcing a shutdown of operations, and sending employees home. Since I remembered hearing about Gibson being raided in 2009, this caught my attention.
What's going on here? Why is a company best known for producing electric guitars being raided by armed feds? Is it labor? Illegal aliens? Are they selling raw milk on the side? No, it's about wood. Wood?
In the last year of the W, the 2008 Farm Bill passed after his veto of it was over-ridden. Buried deep in this 663 page bill - that now seems tiny compared to the multi-thousand page engorged-tick monstrosity bills of the Obama administration - there was a provision nobody mentioned, nobody talked about, and nobody outside of a few activists even knew about until after the law was enacted. It was an amendment to the Lacey Act, a law passed in 1900, that "...prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold" to quote the Wiki. I remember reading this summary in 2009, from the excellent piece on Classical Values, whose name I modified for this posting, and which you simply must read. Read this paragraph carefully:
This amendment deals with illegal plants -- the primary thrust being illegal wood. Henceforth, all wood is to be a federally regulated, suspect substance. Either raw wood, lumber, or anything made of wood, from tables and chairs, to flooring, siding, particle board, to handles on knives, baskets, chopsticks, or even toothpicks has to have a label naming the genus and species of the tree that it came from and the country of origin. Incorrect labeling becomes a federal felony, and the law does not just apply to wood newly entering the country, but any wood that is in interstate commerce within the country. Here are some excerpts from a summary:Looking around my house, not one piece of wooden furniture - either the ones I built or the ones I bought - has a label telling the genus and species it came from along with the country of origin. Certainly the toothpicks and knife handles don't. I see perhaps 2 dozen felonies within eye shot. Perhaps I should shut up about that.
Anyone who imports into the United States, or exports out of the United States, illegally harvested plants or products made from illegally harvested plants, including timber, as well as anyone who exports, transports, sells, receives, acquires or purchases such products in the United States, may be prosecuted. (italics added, bold in original - GB)This is mind-boggling. Virtually everything can be regulated under this law. What isn't included? Metal is about all I can think of. Here are some examples from the regulation summary with some highlighting I added.
...the scope of products that will require a declaration under the Lacey Act is broad and includes certain live plants, plant parts, lumber, wood pulp, paper and paperboard, and products containing certain plant material or products, which may include certain furniture, tools, umbrellas, sporting goods, printed matter, musical instruments, products manufactured from plant-based resins, and textiles.Is your head spinning, yet? Did you know you're a felon if you buy, own, or sell anything in that list that doesn't comply with the law? This is the kind of stuff that will give you nightmares.
After September 30, 2009, based on experience with the implementation of the electronic system for declaration data collection, we will phase in enforcement of the declaration requirements for additional chapters containing plants and plant
products covered by the Lacey Act, including (but not limited to) Ch. 12 (oil seeds, misc. grain, seed, fruit, plant, etc.), Ch. 13 (gums, lacs, resins, vegetable saps, extracts, etc.), [vegetable saps and extracts? like olive oil, maple syrup? - gb] Ch. 14 (vegetable plaiting materials and products not elsewhere specified or included), [the wildcard so they can arrest you for anything - gb] Ch. 45 (cork and articles of), Ch. 46 (basket ware and wickerwork), Ch. 66 (umbrellas, walking sticks, riding crops), Ch. 82 (tools), Ch. 93 (guns), Ch. 95 (toys, games and sporting equipment), Ch. 96 (brooms, pencils, and buttons), and Ch. 97 (works of art). We will announce a specific phase-in schedule for those chapters in a subsequent Federal Register notice.
Ch. 93 Headings (arms and ammunition).
9302 -- Revolvers and pistols.
93051020 --Parts and accessories for revolvers and pistols.
Ch. 94 Headings (furniture, etc.).
940169 -- Seats with wood frames.
Ch. 95 Headings (toys, games, & sporting equipment).
950420 -- Articles and accessories for billiards
Reading something like this literally makes me sick. You are at the mercy of whoever decides to find something to charge you with, because anything can be argued to be illegal. And, yes, Ayn Rand's famous quote about tyrannies passing laws to make more criminals is ringing in my ears. Gibson's response makes it clear they believe they did everything legally, according to their legal team. What appears to be the charge is the violation of the laws of India as interpreted by the US DOJ!!
You know, I've always kinda wanted a Gibson Les Paul, but (to be honest and knowing I'm losing most of you) never could really decide between a Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster. Maybe I could stick a few bucks in the "defend Gibson" kitty.