August 6, 2012

"Especially in a bearish economy, entrepreneurs need to be able to operate without the fear that inadvertently breaking an obscure regulation..."

"... or unknowingly violating a foreign statute could shut down their company and land them or their employees in jail," wrote Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp., in a WSJ column last month.

Without warning, 30 federal agents with guns and bulletproof vests stormed our guitar factories in Tennessee. They shut down production, sent workers home, seized boxes of raw materials and nearly 100 guitars, and ultimately cost our company $2 million to $3 million worth of products and lost productivity. Why? We imported wood from India to make guitars in America...

The Aug. 24 raid was authorized under the Lacey Act. Originally enacted as a means to curb the poaching of endangered species, the law bans wildlife and plants from being imported if, according to the interpretation of federal bureaucrats, the importation violates a law in the country of origin.

The fingerboards of our guitars are made with wood that is imported from India. The wood seized during the Aug. 24 raid, however, was from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified supplier, meaning the wood complies with FSC's rules requiring that it be harvested legally and in compliance with traditional and civil rights, among other protections. Indian authorities have provided sworn statements approving the shipment, and U.S. Customs allowed the shipment to pass through America's border to our factories.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to enforce its own interpretation of Indian law, arguing that because the fingerboards weren't finished in India, they were illegal exports. In effect, the agency is arguing that to be in compliance with the law, Gibson must outsource the jobs of finishing craftsmen in Tennessee.
This morning comes the news that Gibson has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle the case. The company has also given up on getting $261,844 worth of ebony returned.

154 comments:

prairie wind said...

Good for Juszkiewicz. I'm glad he spoke out.

Now, will Congress do anything about crazy shit like this? This close to the election...will it help them or hurt them? Because that's the important question, of course.

edutcher said...

The Feds are good at this.

Lefties operate the same way.

Make your life miserable enough so you accede to their demands.

This one, however, probably came because the competition were Demo donors, IIRC.

Rob said...

Bludgeoned by the Federal Behemoth. There is no point in fighting, even if you win you lose.

Tank said...

I, for one, am glad to see our President and his administration focusing on the true enemies of America, Gibson Guitars.

Why did they not seize Fender guitars too?

Hmmmmm.

MadisonMan said...

There are too many laws. They've been enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislatures, and signed by Republican and Democratic Presidents, Governors and Mayors.

Does anyone actually argue against this?

Carnifex said...

"Nice guitar bid'ness you got here, Juszkiewicz. Be a shame to see somp'tin' happen to it just 'cause you got wrong political beliefs"

The Chicago way!

Ps

Those that think Zero is not responsible for all the Romney attacks need to look at Zero's history in winning elections.

Chip S. said...

Oh, there are definite ways to avoid uncertainty in the current regulatory climate.

Just ask Chris Martin IV.

rehajm said...

It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw, and they'd crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years

The Drill SGT said...

This is what comes when the Feds just grind you down with legal costs. Gibson was likely in the right, but could not afford to continue and be raided again.

So do they now fire US employees and outsource?

the story makes a great Romney ad on several levels.

Great work Obamacrats

Rob said...

OMG, I agree with MadisonMan. The apocalypse is nigh.

Carnifex said...

@MadMan

I don't know...what's your take on Zerocare?

Ps

We know Reid, Pelosi, and Zero are all for more regulation. In fact, I'm gonna' hold my breath till the first prominant Xemocrat suggest any roll back of any government agency.

(Well, no, I won't. I'm not stupid enough to believe ANY democrat would suggest that)

CWJ said...

Madisonman, I agree. But the real travesty is delegating interpretative power to the various bureaucrasies that are the sharp end of enforcement. Congress has little idea what it has enacted, and even less as to what the law will eventually become over time.

The Drill SGT said...

Tank said...
I, for one, am glad to see our President and his administration focusing on the true enemies of America, Gibson Guitars.

Why did they not seize Fender guitars too?


The Fender President Matt Janopaul gave money to the Obama 2008 campaign. The Chicago Way

The Crack Emcee said...

MadisonMan,

There are too many laws. They've been enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislatures, and signed by Republican and Democratic Presidents, Governors and Mayors.

Does anyone actually argue against this?


Yes, the people who say things like:

"The story makes a great Romney ad on several levels.

Great work Obamacrats."


Just a total re-writing of history for partisanship.

I don't hate this presidential election as much as the last one, but I'll be damned if they're not working on it,...

Scott said...

The article is outside the damn paywall.

Joe Schmoe said...

There's got to be more to this case. Sure, maybe Gibson was afoul of the law as strictly written. But it shouldn't be too hard to establish an intent of complying with known laws. (Previous orders of the same stuff executed in the open without subterfuge.)

What am I missing? Was there a warning or cease and desist letter that they ignored? Otherwise this seems to be such an egregious abuse of power that lawyers would be trampling each other to represent such a slam-dunk case against the credit-flush pockets of the federal gummint. I'm guessing there's more to the story that makes it less red meat for small gummint types like myself.

Methadras said...

I'd turn around and sue that that department for its incompetence. How do you have all of the required certs and yet still have the laws interpreted on the fly by a bureau-weenie and find yourself on the wrong side of the law anyway?

Goju said...

This is not a case of using an endangered species of wood. India and Madagascar law prohibit exporting raw wood. It is perfectly legal to buy finished fingerboards if they are made in the country of origin. Gibson is getting nailed for buying rough wood and doing the work themselves. Gibson legally bought rough lumber in India and Madagascar and shipped it to America. The complaint was lodged when Gibson took this wood and made it into fingerbosrds.

Fender and Martin do the same thing, but being Dem donors there is apparently a diffrent standard applied.

Synova said...

"How do you have all of the required certs and yet still have the laws interpreted on the fly by a bureau-weenie and find yourself on the wrong side of the law anyway?"

By supporting the wrong political party.

MadisonMan said...

But the real travesty is delegating interpretative power to the various bureaucracies that are the sharp end of enforcement.

And don't forget that the bureacracy has a vested interest in deciding that they do have the power to enforce; otherwise they are out of a job!

Hagar said...

Joe Schmoe,

If the material was OK with the Indian Government as evidenced by the export paperwork, it should not be the U.S. Government's business to override the Indian Goverment's decision. It was their country, their law, and their wood.

Synova said...

"Otherwise this seems to be such an egregious abuse of power that lawyers would be trampling each other to represent such a slam-dunk case against the credit-flush pockets of the federal gummint."

Can't sue the government. Fed agencies aren't allowed to be brought to court for anything. Right?

So of course there are not lawyers lining up to make a name by taking the case.

Now, this may have just changed since someone-or-other just won something-or-other at the supreme court against the EPA, IIRC, about legal due process or something.

But that just happened, and it was the EPA and not the Dept of the Interior.

Undoubtedly Althouse knows what I'm remembering so poorly.

Synova said...

OTOH, a Freedom of Information request might be mega useful to someone, eventually.

Balfegor said...

Re: MadisonMan:

There are too many laws. They've been enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislatures, and signed by Republican and Democratic Presidents, Governors and Mayors.

Does anyone actually argue against this
?

Of course! It's not like this raid occurred on the spur of the moment. Clearly some line attorney at DOJ had to look at the situation and decide this is a case worth pursuing -- not a case of too many laws, but a case of just the right law to enforce today! Before the FBI raid, I think a number of people up the chain, maybe to an AUSA, needed to approve the decision to proceed, since sending armed policemen to raid someone is a serious step. And afterward, clearly no one at DOJ thought "this is a useless law, we should drop this case," because they required payment of a fine and confiscated the property.

Clearly, in all this process no decisionmaker looked at this case, and thought this is one of those "too many laws." And I'm sure if you asked any of the people who worked on this case on the DOJ side, they would say, with perfect honesty, that they think this is a very important law, and that this was a very important case.

Even if there were some abstract consensus that there are "too many laws" -- and I seriously doubt there is -- there would no consensus whatsoever on which laws are the silly ones. Unfortunately.

bagoh20 said...

Obama - screwing the citizens that the rest of world refuses to.

No wonder the Birthers won't give up. You have to admit the guy doesn't act like he's one of us. It's like he hates tax-paying Americans with a vengeance. I don't think he likes us even after we gave him a really good job, and all kinds of perks. It seems rather ungrateful.

Jay said...

In the last 2 months Romney/RNC has outraised Obama/DNC by $51 million

MadisonMan said...

Fed agencies aren't allowed to be brought to court for anything. Right?

The National Weather Service was sued for a fatal fishing vessel sinking in the mid-1980s. (Granted, a long time ago). Failure to maintain a weather buoy in the Gulf of Maine was central to the defendant's case -- as in, they would not have believed the forecast as much had they known the buoy was non-operational. I know the Govt was initially found liable. I think there was an appeal, but I don't know the outcome of that.

Judge Tauro presided.

Rick Caird said...

The best part was this quote justifying the action:

"...Gibson has acknowledged that it failed to act on information that the Madagascar ebony it was purchasing may have violated laws intended to limit overharvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar...".

Notice the magic word "may". The government had no idea if they were correct or not. Sovereign immunity protects too many incompetent actors.

Balfegor said...

Re: Hagar:

If the material was OK with the Indian Government as evidenced by the export paperwork, it should not be the U.S. Government's business to override the Indian Goverment's decision. It was their country, their law, and their wood.

. . . Look. Remember what we did to Switzerland's proud tradition of bank secrecy? And think about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It's not about what's legal or not legal in a foreign country. It's about imposing our standards on people doing business in foreign countries. Originally, it was just Americans doing business in foreign countries, but our government is increasingly active in prosecuting foreign corporations doing business in foreign countries (e.g. Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, which still holds the prize, I believe, for largest FCPA fine ever). Our government does not, as a general rule, care what other legal systems say, for better and for worse.

Justin said...

Fender and Martin do the same thing, but being Dem donors there is apparently a diffrent standard applied.

Please tell me that none of you believe this. This is low level shit. I would venture a guess that this raid was approved by someone that is so far down the totem pole he or she has never even spoken to the president.

And while I agree that there are too many regulations and that the government abused its discretion in making this raid, how about some responsibility for the company? We're not talking about a mom-and-pop here. Gibson Guitars is perfectly capable of educating itself about the legal implications of importing component parts from overseas before doing so. (As an aside, I think it a bit hypocritical for Juszkeiwicz to gripe about having to outsource jobs while at the same time buying component materials from outside the US. Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US.)

Balfegor said...

I should note, though, that DOJ has cooperation agreements (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties) with many foreign Ministries of Justice and other enforcement agencies, which enable sharing of information and evidence, as well as MOU's which express the intention to coordinate to some degree on investigations. Also, in recent years, at least on FCPA issues, the US has been pushing other governments hard to get them to alter their laws to bring them into conformity with the US. It's a clause in a number of FTA's negotiated under the Bush II administration, for example, and I suspect the Obama administration is taking a similar tack.

So there's some level of mutuality with some of the countries we are using the FCPA on. Even the Siemens prosecution was done with some cooperation with German authorities.

Balfegor said...

Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US.

Haha, yes! Screw international trade! Autarky forever! You should be a congressman!

Balfegor said...

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Synova said...

"Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US."

I'm not a musician and even I know how stupid this statement is.

But maybe Justin can explain which domestic wood has the same density and sound qualities as Ebony.

Oh, and what counts as "finished"? Is the wood finished when it's dried, when it's cut to the rough dimensions, the exact dimensions, when it's fitted, when it's sanded/planed, when it's sealed or shellacked, when it's installed as part of a complete instrument?

Honest people trying to follow the rules and avoid losing their business want to know.

The Godfather said...

"Too many laws"? Not to worry. There's "prosecutorial discretion". If the President decides that it's not appropriate to prosecute some people who violate the law, why he can just order that they not be prosecuted. You just have to be sure that you're on the President's "nice" list, not his "naughty" list. Any idea how you do that? Show of hands, please.

Rusty said...

Balfegor said...
Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US.


Yeah!
Fuck Madagascar!
Fuckin' third world exotic wood pushers.
Fuckin' poverty strickin' assholes!
Fuck em!
They don't deserve any standard of living!

AJ Lynch said...

Armed agents with body armor to investigate a possible case of contraband wood?!

I'd have said come on and look in my pants if you want to see my contraband wood.

Bryan C said...

"Even if there were some abstract consensus that there are "too many laws" -- and I seriously doubt there is -- there would no consensus whatsoever on which laws are the silly ones."

Particularly not if you're asking the DOJ.

This is what happens when you give thousands of petty bureaucrats sweeping authority granted by vague laws, discretion to indulge in arbitrary political vendettas, immunity from prosecution, and armed paramilitary response squads.

But "too many laws" is not the actual problem. That's just the inevitable consequence of expanding government authority ever further into every aspect of everything. Once you decide that using armed force and seizing property based on alleged violations some other country's obscure laws is a Really Good Idea, then you can't be surprised when you get lots and lots of bad laws extending the power of the government to do exactly that. Cut back on the power and scope of government and the bad laws will take care of themselves.

Pogo said...

One fun trick is how Medicare pays only 43 cents on the dollar for its bills, which it tends to pay late, and then they come back and fine you huge amounts for any errors, calling them "fraud".

On an unrelated note, openings for Medicare patients in affected institutions will drop precipitously in the next 2 years, even though the number of elderly are climbing.

Unexpectedly!

Hagar said...

Some folks here are seriously confused; Madagascar is a long ways from India.

I suspect that someone at Gibson may have smarted off at some EPA official about the Madagascar case, and the raid to confiscate the Indian wood was done in retaliation and "teach them some respect."

And all woods are not created equal. Exotic woods with particular acoustic properties are used for high-end instruments, and musicians claim they are necessary.

Peter said...

Surely, the optimum (from the PoV of the American Association for Justice, aka Trial Lawyers of America) is that the regulatory environment be sufficiently vague yet dense, thereby eliminating the possibility of finding a safe harbor?

Does not regulatory nirvana lie in crating regulations such that it is simply impossible to comply with some without violating others?

Hagar said...

And DoJ and its multifarious subsidiary agencies may not have anything to do with this - at least it is not clear from the article.

All sorts of Federal agencies have taken to equipping themselves with their own SWAT forces lately - that way they do not have to explain themselves to the DoJ people first, and anyway they are just as important as the FBI, and why should the FBI get all the TV time, anyway?

garage mahal said...

The customs form falsely labeled the wood as veneer sheets and listed a false tariff code to match the false description, and also a listed false final destination, when in fact, it was destined to Gibson in Nahsville.

"I'm a victim! I'm a victim!"

Gibson previously knew it was importing illegal wood Link

Pogo said...

garage, always the friend of the working man.

Well, as long as that man works for the gubmint.

Methadras said...

Balfegor said...

Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US.

Haha, yes! Screw international trade! Autarky forever! You should be a congressman!


I don't have a problem with certain aspects of autarky at all. In some things I do. Maybe growing that particular species of wood in the US and selling it might not be a bad compromise if someone is willing to do it. I'm actually a little surprised that Gibson hasn't already tried or done so or at least seeded private lumberers to give it a go.

Amartel said...

"Fed agencies aren't allowed to be brought to court for anything. Right?"

The government has various immunities and procedural restrictions (Federal Tort Claim Act and its various state variations) on lawsuits that are not afforded to private businesses. Government officials and employees have various privileges and rights that are not afforded to the rest of us. Plus, juries in cases against the government know they are playing with tax (as opposed to insurance or corporate) dollars.

Goju said...

Justin, you believe this isn't politically related? Harry Reid directs millions of dollars of stimulus money to Chinese solar company represented by his son; Jon Corzine's MF Global screws investers; DOE structures Soylndra loan to put private investors ahead of taxpayers (illegally). What do these all have in common?Big Dems or big Dem donors and bundlers - and none of them investigated. Yet even tho neither India or Madagascar filed a complaint, the DOJ went after Gibson - but is ignoring Fender and Martin doing the same thing. Do you have another plausible explanation?

Cedarford said...

You want Romney to go bold?

He could start by stating the obvious.....American competiveness and jobs creation is being crippled by a web of regulations and red tape reporting requirements.
Most of which, were made from good intention, but the aggregate impact is now deeply damaging to America.

And the solution...with America in a national economic and fiscal crisis ....is to suspend all pending regulations that do not have a clear impact on public safety, or fail to pass a cost benefit analysis that they cost America more than they are worth.

Romney says he will ask for Congressional support to suspend regulations that are killing the US recovery. And further ask Congressional support of him suspending existing regulations that harm growth and job creation for at least 3 years...while the US is still in economic and fiscal crisis.

Rob said...

If we are talking about gross abuse of the law, please don't forget the GM and Chrysler bailouts, the biggest political payoff of all time.

Synova said...

Garage, I don't think that the article you linked says what you think it says.

Also... if it does say what you think it does, shouldn't we be VERY interested in who the "other two" guitar manufacturers are?

Jay said...

garage mahal said...
Gibson previously knew it was importing illegal wood Link


actually that link makes an allegation after stating:

No documents were available online in support of the latest search, which appears to have focused on wood from India, rather than Madagascar.

But hey, when allegations fit your biases they're facts.

Idiot.

Jay said...

Justin said...
Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US.


That's right!!!

I can see trees outside my window and that is the exact same wood as in the guitars!!!

it is!!

Do you morons ever tire of rushing to the Internet to beclown yourselves?

Revenant said...

Once upon a time, this was a free country.

Not during my lifetime... but once.

Cedarford said...

Amartel said...
"Fed agencies aren't allowed to be brought to court for anything. Right?"


Problem is that having the Feds on you and contemplating your ruinously expensive recourse to the Majestic US legal system....is like getting sued by some shyster that assembles 4 "slip and fall" cases in your store, all from the same family of gypsy grifters or Tinkers.

Far cheaper to grovel a bit, settle with them, do what the Feds or Hero State workers want..even if it kills your growth and jobs creation.....

Than pay out 100s of thousands, even millions in legal costs in a case the lawyers will drag out for years.

elkh1 said...

In Chicago, they are coming after the Northwestern Hospital which is a formidable competitor of Mrs. O's former boss, the U of Chicago.

Their guilt? They were found to have violated their not-for-profits status for the past 13 years in the IRS's "random" audits.

Funny all "random" audits were on competitors of Mr. O's buddies. Not that he wasn't honest about unleashing the IRS on his enemies.

The Hospital which was run exactly like Mrs. O's employer was fined $130 millions for back taxes. The Hospital has to lay off 400 of their 3000+ employees to find the money to pay off Mr. O's attack dogs. It was much better to hire Mrs. O and receive $1 million taxpayers' money.

Now, it's Adelson's turn.

Oh, by the way, for those who voted for Mr. Vindictive, the Incompetent, hope you lose your jobs next. Just declare yourselves disabled, while your employers, Mr. Vindictive's enemies declared bankruptcies for the businesses they had not built.

Justin said...

@Goju

There aren't enough facts to know what the motivation here was. But I'm not such a conspiracy theorist to think automatically that this was some kind of political conspiracy. If Fender is doing the same thing, it should also be punished; neither of us knows enough about the facts to determine whether the situation with Fender is in fact the same. You're just assuming the facts are the same because it feeds your political conspiracy narrative.

I don't feel sorry for Juszkiewicz or Gibson Guitars. If part of your business involves importing wood from overseas, learn the laws and regulations governing that process. Gibson Guitars could have hired counsel to advise them on regulatory compliance. (I assume they have in-house counsel; if they do, that person really fucked this one up.) It would have certainly cost less than all the money they lost as a result of maintaing ignorance or playing fast and loose, whatever the case may be.

And let's be honest here: While there are certainly too many regulations (and too many regulators), I think importation of plant products from overseas is something that should be zealously regulated. I'd be surprised if there are many who disagree.

Justin said...

That's right!!!

I can see trees outside my window and that is the exact same wood as in the guitars!!!

it is!!

Do you morons ever tire of rushing to the Internet to beclown yourselves?


Why do you constantly feel the need to insult people? Go fuck yourself.

American black walnut works quite nicely for many instruments. We're talking about Gibson Guitars here. If they really feel the need to use ebony, they need to learn how to properly import it.

Alex said...

Isn't it hilarious that you can count on garage to always take the anti-company position?

Palladian said...

I'd be surprised if there are many who disagree.

No true Scotsman...

ken in sc said...

In general, the federal and state governments have to give permission to be sued, otherwise they have sovereign immunity. So, you may have heard of the government being sued and don't understand why everyone doesn't do it. However, there is a Federal Tort Claims Act, meaning you can file a claim if the federal government has harmed you by a specific act—such as an Air Force jet crashing into your hen house. In fact, the first respondent to an Air force crash may be an Air Force JAG officer with the appropriate forms. Many state and local governments have a similar law, but it is frequently ignored when the cops break down the door and ransack your house by mistake.

Jay said...

Justin said...
Why do you constantly feel the need to insult people? Go fuck yourself.


You know, you could stop opining on topics of which you know absolutely nothing.

Then perhaps you wouldn't be ridiculed and mocked for stupidity.

American black walnut works quite nicely for many instruments.

How would you know?

Chip Ahoy said...

You mean those buoys do things?

I thought they just rang a bell. Marked a navigation boundary or hazard.

Now every time I see one I'll be wondering what important thing it's legally responsible.

garage mahal said...

Garage, I don't think that the article you linked says what you think it says.

So what do you think the Gibson email was all about; that until they could identify "some legitimate harvests" in Madagascar, Thunam "should now be able to supply Nagel with all the rosewood and ebony for the grey market."

Revenant said...

Why do you constantly feel the need to insult people? Go fuck yourself.

Possibly because suggesting that people buy nonexistent American ebony instead of importing ebony from the countries it actually grows in was a spectacularly dumb idea. The clarification that guitar makers could just settle for inferior domestic wood choices wasn't much of an improvement.

Justin said...

You know, you could stop opining on topics of which you know absolutely nothing.

Says the pot to the kettle.

Then perhaps you wouldn't be ridiculed and mocked for stupidity.

Go fuck yourself.

How would you know?

I have a degree in music performance. I know a little bit about instruments.

fivewheels said...

Yeah, the government should totally be instructing businesses on how to make their products. Use different wood because we say so! Who knows better than a meddling liberal?

It's just a pity the totally brilliant and justified attempt to ban salt from food altogether, launched by a government expert who's way smarter than any chef who thinks salt is actually necessary, didn't go through.

Synova said...

Justin, you think that the laws are rational and can be learned. You assume this is not a ridiculous burden. But then I don't suppose you ever had a piano shipped *from* the US when stationed overseas, and get held up when trying to ship it home again because it has ivory or ebony keys, or talked to anyone who has. Reason does not apply.

And they probably burned all that Ebony, too.

The actual fact of the matter is, that when it comes to this sort of protected specie importing a company like Gibson or the others DO exactly what you say they ought to do. They have whole staffs and people (like those quoted in garage's link) who's job is to figure out how to get wood imported *legally*, to jump through all the ever-changing hoops, get every T crossed and I dotted, and still have every mistake seen as evidence of willful malfeasance.

And Gibson does this, has all the paperwork and all the reams of forms and all the permissions and someone *here* says, but the law *there* says "finished" and that wood isn't "finished."

Legally, Justin, what does that word mean?

And you assume that the burden must be so ordinary to anyone that *bothers* that you assume that Fender or Martin somehow get their fingerboards "finished" in Madagascar or India and shipped over here without having to be fitted and *finished* when they arrive?

Oh, I suppose that there is just as much chance that it's just RANDOM that Gibson got it from the feds and Fender and Martin didn't, but I don't know why we'd assume so.

As for the other big companies doing things the RIGHT way, that's as unlikely as supposing that the other companies deal with a different government individual in the source countries and are asked to comply to a different set of rules in the source countries.

It's laughably improbable that this would happen.

virgil xenophon said...

Somewhere Kafka must be smiling..

Michael K said...

"I think importation of plant products from overseas is something that should be zealously regulated. I'd be surprised if there are many who disagree."

That, and paying off the right people. is the Chicago Way. We all know that. Gibson just thought the rules had changed and honesty was the best policy.

Justin said...

Possibly because suggesting that people buy nonexistent American ebony instead of importing ebony from the countries it actually grows in was a spectacularly dumb idea. The clarification that guitar makers could just settle for inferior domestic wood choices wasn't much of an improvement.

I never said anything about "American ebony." There are domestic woods that are not so inferior. (Yes, ebony is the one of the best woods for certain instruments; for these guitars I suspect its use is a function of both acoustics and cache.)

The bottom line point is that if you're importing ebony, learn the rules. Don't whine about them after they are applied to you.

Revenant said...

So what do you think the Gibson email was all about; that until they could identify "some legitimate harvests" in Madagascar, Thunam "should now be able to supply Nagel with all the rosewood and ebony for the grey market."

Um, garage... things sold in "the grey market" are, by definition, legal. If they are illegal, that's called "the black market". The term "grey market" refers to sales which are legal but outside official channels.

So what the email in question is saying is, quite literally, "Thurman should be able to provide legal rosewood and ebony through unofficial channels".

Synova said...

Garage, if the quoted bits (from different emails at different times) are run together that way it's possible to make inferences, but they're just inferences, and not a smoking gun.

It's hardly amazing that illegal wood would be discussed when the default status of the wood varieties is illegal (and in this case, very specific subspecies from very specific regions, and we don't know if later e-mails were referencing the same wood.)

As for the gray market remark... if that's the only way to get the rosewood and ebony, and gray actually means "illegal" then anyone else getting the wood must be breaking the law, too.

(And until the wood is actually *purchased* and imported what law is broken? There is no proof and the boss may have said "no".)

And as I said... this was apparently (according to the e-mail quotes) a trip done together with the "two other" companies, and we can infer that they were getting the same information about legal availability of restricted wood.

So if it's damning, it's damning to more than Gibson.

And we're back where we started, wondering why Gibson was singled out.

Revenant said...

I never said anything about "American ebony." There are domestic woods that are not so inferior.

The weasel-words "no so inferior" notwithstanding, the fact that they ARE inferior remains. Yes, Gibson could make inferior products with domestic species. Many guitar-makers do.

Your position amounts to "either make inferior products or become an expert in import law". These are both dumb ideas unworthy of futher comment.

Justin said...

@Synova

We're all really engaging in pure speculation here. I don't know what "finished" means under Madagascar or India law. You would have to ask lawyers in those jurisdictions. Which I'm sure Gibson did. (If they didn't, they should have.)

I doubt the raid was random, but I also doubt it was politically motivated. Who knows what sparked the investigation? Gibson made a business decision to take a $500,000 hit here (to settle a criminal enforcement action), so I wouldn't assume that they were totally innocent in all of this.

Synova said...

"A grey market or gray market, also known as parallel market,[1] is the trade of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial, unauthorized, or unintended by the original manufacturer."

Thank-you Rev. I should google unfamiliar terms more often.

So the guy used his amazing buyer-foo to find a legal source in an unconventional place.

Criminal!

Justin said...

No, my position is that if your business depends on imported products, learn the import laws and regulations relevant to those products. It's not a dumb idea.

Synova said...

"We're all really engaging in pure speculation here. I don't know what "finished" means under Madagascar or India law. You would have to ask lawyers in those jurisdictions. Which I'm sure Gibson did. (If they didn't, they should have.)"

Read the statement that Althouse quoted.

This is *exactly* the problem. Gibson asked the lawyers is those jurisdictions. They said, okie-dokie. The US Fish and Wildlife had a different interpretation.

That interpretation of foreign laws by US agencies is what Gibson was fined better than $600K on the basis of.

It's not speculation.

You can't solve this problem by telling Gibson to check with India and get their blessing.

The point of it is that India's (or whomever's) blessing is irrelevant if someone on the enforcement side in the US interprets the law in India differently than the Indians.

I hate to sound like Althouse fussing about reading the article (since I so often don't) but did you actually read Juszkiewicz's complaint?

Rick67 said...

I had the misfortune of reading the BBC's article on this. There was a comment about Gibson's plight being a cause celebre among tea party types because they don't think businesses should be so hampered by environmental concerns. *Sigh*

Justin said...

@Synova

No, I didn't read the whole thing; I skimmed it. So I certainly take your point.

But I still feel like we shouldn't assume that Gibson is so deserving of sympathy here. They decided to settle, which means they decided that the cost of litigation weighed together with the likelihood of success on the merits did not warrant a fight. There have to be facts unfavorable to Gibson. We just don't have them.

Synova said...

I think that assuming that settling a case implies guilt, when it includes a government agency that doesn't have to prove your guilt in court, is pretty much evil.

I was surprised, shocked even, that Gibson fought it at all.

Seriously... they confiscated almost 300K of wood and shut the business down and assessed a fine... when was the court date?

Carnifex said...

@Justin

You're right. You have persuaded me that at anytime ever a company decides to payoff hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines as opposed to bankrupting themselves fighting to the death spurious charges, must by definition, be guilty.

There's a term you need to learn...pyrrhic victory. You might not have ever heard of it in your music studies.

As far as Fender and the Martin issue. The reason they haven't been fined is because they follow "all" the rules, and found "legal" ebony to purchase that Gibson was just to cheap to find. Oh hell, let's just say it, Gibson is a bunch of Republicans that just can't wait to clear cut the ebony forest and make the poor aboriginies live lifes of perpetual squalor in perpetuity!

Had absolutely nothing... nothing! ...to do with bundling cash for democrats

So sez Sgt. Schultz...I mean Justin.

Carnifex said...

The US Government as it is now constituted(there's some irony) has taken this phrase to the limit. They are masters in its deployment.

Maxim 21: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Take his fish away and tell him he's lucky just to be alive, and he'll figure out how to catch another one for you to take tomorrow.

Rusty said...

I have a degree in music performance. I know a little bit about instruments.


OK, wiseass, make us a piano.

Jay said...

Justin said...

I have a degree in music performance. I know a little bit about instruments.


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

I bet you do, tiny dancer!

I mean, being in the ballet is like the exact same thing as making a guitar.

Really, it is!!

Holy shit are you a fucking idiot.

Jay said...

Justin said...

Says the pot to the kettle.


Except I'm not the one saying silly & incoherent things.

You've done enough beclowning, you can stop now.

Jay said...

Justin said...

The bottom line point is that if you're importing ebony, learn the rules. Don't whine about them after they are applied to you.


Except that isn't what happened at all, idiot.

Given that you don't even have a basic understanding of what happened here, why are you commenting?

Isn't it time for you to go make a complete fool of yourself somewhere else?

Jay said...

Justin said...


I never said anything about "American ebony." There are domestic woods that are not so inferior.


Yes!!!

If only those idiots at Gibson (in business for over 100 years ) could listen to the little ballet boy on the Internet!!

I mean, why would anyone want to mock this idiot?

I can't figure it out. Really, it is a real head-scratcher.

Hagar said...

You guys are still off base, at least as far as the Indian case is concerned. The Indian law is not about the wood as a protected species; it is not. The law is a labor regulation to protect Indian labor, not the wood.
So if the Indian agency in charge of enforcing this law says it is OK with them for Gibson to export it (from India), that should be it. It is no business of the U.S. Government to interfere in India's internal labor regulations.

chickelit said...

Shorter garage mahal on how to fix Gibson Guitar: Les Paul, more Saul

Revenant said...

They decided to settle, which means they decided that the cost of litigation weighed together with the likelihood of success on the merits did not warrant a fight. There have to be facts unfavorable to Gibson.

That has the dubious distinction of being an even dumber remark than "they should have bought wood from America".

Lawyers aren't free, genius. Businesses settle frivolous lawsuits against them all the time for that reason alone. It doesn't matter if the other side has a case -- all that matters is if proviing the DON'T have a case costs you less than a settlement.

The government has infinite money and no incentive to admit it was wrong. That's why businesses almost always reach settlements with the government instead of fighting them all the way to a verdict.

Big Mike said...

There are too many laws. They've been enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislatures, and signed by Republican and Democratic Presidents, Governors and Mayors.

Does anyone actually argue against this?


@Madman, answering you question, the answer is affirmative. Far too many recent college graduates have been taught their liberal catechism that our problem is not too much regulation but too little.

The real problems are two-fold. First, the laws are are not the real burden, the real burden is due to the regulations promulgated by unelected and nearly impossible to remove government bureaucrats in response to those laws. And nearly all of these bureaucrats are Democrats.

The other problem, of course, is that the laws are misdirected. Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, to name two, pose vastly larger margin costs on small businesses than on large corporations.

Can anyone doubt it?

Revenant said...

Does anyone actually argue against this?

I think most Americans would agree with the notion that there are too many laws.

The problem is that the overwhelming majority of Americans think that everything they don't approve of ought to be illegal. This inevitably leads to the situation we're in now, where a huge thicket of laws has sprung up as a side-effect of the widespread belief that morality can be achieved through legislation.

Hagar said...

If I get this correctly, the Madagascar wood is protected, and Gibson admits to not having their paperwork in order and does not object to being fined for the Madagascar wood.
On the India wood they claim they did have the paperwork in order, and they are rightfully outraged.

It is a regular tactic for the Democrats - and I regret to say, lately also Garage Mahal - to use misdirection in their arguments and deliberately conflate such cases.

Pogo said...

The Democrat motto:
Expand overseas.

PatCA said...

This is not the first time Gibson has been raided. I think they just gave up and paid their bribe.

Joe Schmoe said...

The other problem, of course, is that the laws are misdirected. Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, to name two, pose vastly larger margin costs on small businesses than on large corporations.

Can anyone doubt it?


No. This is why I find myself in agreement with commenters like Robert Cook when it comes to large corporations. They can be very illiberal. They will try to monopolize their markets through any means possible. If some burdensome regulations put smaller competitors out of business, oh well. They are about their own survival first and foremost.

Not enough bad things can happen to companies like GE and GM for the way they use big guv to manipulate their industries.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Synova said...

But maybe Justin can explain which domestic wood has the same density and sound qualities as Ebony.

Torrefied (baked) Maple is close in color to Rosewood and has the feel of Ebony. Gibson has started experimenting with it as an alternative to Ebony.

Of course most of the guitarist I know have stopped cheering the Feds long enough to register their disgust at Gibson's use of Torrefied Maple. Guess there's no pleasing some people.

Revenant said...

This is why I find myself in agreement with commenters like Robert Cook when it comes to large corporations

Really? This is exactly why I *can't*.

People like Cook are vehement advocates of exactly the government behavior that makes it *possible* for megacorporations to dominate markets. Advocating for expanded regulatory oversight is the same as advocating for the expanded power of large corporations. Cook's an advocate for corporatism; he just doesn't realize it.

MadisonMan said...

But maybe Justin can explain which domestic wood has the same density and sound qualities as Ebony.

Does the wood recovered from the depths of Lake Superior match it? I know it has interesting qualities that come from being saturated for decades.

Big Mike said...

@Revenant, you broke the code!

Chip S. said...

Frank Vandersloot is audited by both the IRS and the Labor Dept? Coincidence.

Gibson guitars? Coincidence.

And now, Sheldon Adelson is the latest object of happenstance.

Nah. No pattern here at all. Just wingnut ravings.

Tim said...

"Advocating for expanded regulatory oversight is the same as advocating for the expanded power of large corporations. Cook's an advocate for corporatism; he just doesn't realize it."

Exactly right.

No one is better positioned to deal with compliance costs, and engage in regulatory capture, than large corporations.

Any idiot with a passing familiarity with the U.S. Department of Defense and its relationships with defense contractors understands exactly how this game is played.

Or, should one find that example inexact, the relationship between regulated utilities and their regulators might better serve the point.

Yet, in the case one is exceptionally and willfully dense, like Comrade Cook, for example, the relationship between regulators and the highly regulated financial sector (an indisputable fact acknowledged by even novices) should prove the point once and for all.

This unhappy alliance also stimulates campaign contributions, for obvious reasons - yet somehow, that escapes the gimlet eye of all knowing morons proselytizing the virtues of neo-Marxism.

george said...

In order to have a proper tyranny it is necessary that no one be sure of the meaning of the law or what their rights are under it. John Roberts did his part in this effort by changing the plain meaning of the words in the ACA. One key word having been changed on the whim of one person there is no way to be sure of the meaning of the rest. That was the message that was sent and received. Everyone knows the game is fixed and there is no need arguing since wrong can be easily redefined as right by fiat. How can you argue without a shared and immutable vocabulary? Obviously you cannot.

The case here is that the Indians trimmed the pieces into blocks of a certain size but the Nazis that run everything now claim that isn't good enough to meet the requirement of having a worked product rather than a raw one.

We also have the problem of several layers of interpretation. The Indians apparently are not the final arbiters of their own laws. There is NEVER a point in the process where you are beyond prosecution because the rules are a moving target. This also is a hallmark of tyrannies.

All of this is what happens at every level when you elect a tyrant. Judges and regulators all give vent to their inner Nazi because there is no one to stop them when the guy at the top is egging them on and is the worst offender. You can't even count the offenses against law, reason and morality it took to get the ACA on the books but it was never in doubt that it would get there given who is in charge no matter what outrage needed to be committed.

But the other thing to remember is that the government has no legitimate right to tell a free man where he can get the wood used in his product provided he does not steal it. It doesn't matter if every single person in the country votes otherwise and the law allows such limits. That is the root of the problem. Once you cede that much ground you cede all the rest. Indeed you ensure it.

Gibson made the mistake of getting in bed with the sustainability people and being at the forefront of getting some of these regulations passed. They got what they deserved in the end. You can't give to the other party once the left has bought you or co-opted you. Once you cede one liberty you have no claim to the rest.

Carnifex said...

@George

I tried explaining your first point to the Roberts worshippers, but they're as dense as O'bots so just gave it up for pig wrestling. It's cleaner, and the pig gets a work(so does my opponent)

Joe Schmoe said...

Revenant, you're right in that Cook's cure for big business is more cowbell, i.e. more regulations. I don't agree with that. I just agree with his assessment that big corporations aren't necessarily capitalistic, and can be very illiberal when it comes to free markets. His recommended course of treatment is much different than mine.

My only other nit to pick is where you say the government has infinite money. Right now it only has whatever creditor nations are willing to borrow. Our tax revenue is spoken for and then some. If Gibson really had a strong case, they could make a few overworked federal prosecutors run around for a few years trying to make something stick. But it looks like this isn't the first time they've had a run-in with Uncle Sam, and now they're crying uncle.

Joe Schmoe said...

Gibson made the mistake of getting in bed with the sustainability people and being at the forefront of getting some of these regulations passed. They got what they deserved in the end.

Here here. If you dance with the devil, don't be shocked when you get a cloven hoof up your ass.

Curious George said...

"MadisonMan said...
Does the wood recovered from the depths of Lake Superior match it? I know it has interesting qualities that come from being saturated for decades." The advantages of this wood is that it is "old growth" and has nothing to do with being submerged. Old growth timber provides larger logs and generally tighter grain. The only thing being submerged changes is coloration. You can get old growth from a lot of sources, underwater reclamation is only one of them. Timbers from demolished old buildings or barns is another. I know of a woodworker who makes Arts & Craft furniture out of old growth quartersawn white oak from dismantled wine casks and tanks. He actually steams it to flatten it.

Rusty said...

There have to be facts unfavorable to Gibson.



There just HAS to be!!!!




(Some poor shlub of a farmer and his son on their 10 acres in Madagascar)
" See that tree there son."
"Yes, papa."
"That tree was going to get you an education and the farm its first tractor."
"What happened Papa? How come we can't cut down the tree?"
"Some white people in another country made it illegal for us to cut down our tree."
"Why papa? Don't they like us?"
" This maize isn't going to hoe itself, kid. Get busy.Put your back into it."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Justin,

As an aside, I think it a bit hypocritical for Juszkeiwicz to gripe about having to outsource jobs while at the same time buying component materials from outside the US. Here's an idea: Buy the wood inside the US.

Here's an idea: You try growing ebony (and assorted other tropical hardwoods) in the US. If you figure out a way to do it, you'll totally clean up.

Lay in some pernambuco while you're at it, please. I mean, I do love my Arcus carbon-fiber bow, but there are a lot of string players who swear by the real deal.

wv: 6 tinHeal. Six therapeutic tinfoil hats, stat!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Justin,


I have a degree in music performance. I know a little bit about instruments.


I do not have a degree in music performance; I'm just a musician. (One who was silly enough to stand up in public and play the violin solo part in the Brahms Double Concerto with the UC/Berkeley Symphony once ... but, sorry, no performance degree; you win.)

Synova,

Justin, you think that the laws are rational and can be learned. You assume this is not a ridiculous burden. But then I don't suppose you ever had a piano shipped *from* the US when stationed overseas, and get held up when trying to ship it home again because it has ivory or ebony keys, or talked to anyone who has. Reason does not apply.

We are fortunate in that our Bechstein baby grand was imported by someone else, and our biggest hardship was moving it from CA to OR. But string players are actually getting grief about pernambuco in the same way pianists get it about ivory. It doesn't matter that the wood was harvested ages ago; if you're traveling across international borders with a piece of wood from an endangered rainforest tree, its legal status (and your own) is dicey, even if it's a 19th-c. violin bow.

Tank said...

Just look at this discussion.

It's disgusting.

This was once a great and free country. Individuals were given the opportunity to work hard and build something for themselves and their families. Now, with thousands upon thousands of laws and regs stealing our freedom inch by inch, we are no longer free and no longer great.

How much greater a company would Gibson be, how many more employees would it have, how much more wealth could it create, if it did not have to spend time, money and resources on this nonsense.

One of the many reasons:

DEAD COUNTRY WALKING.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Justin,

I never said anything about "American ebony." There are domestic woods that are not so inferior. (Yes, ebony is the one of the best woods for certain instruments; for these guitars I suspect its use is a function of both acoustics and cache.)

FWIW, I think you mean "cachet."

When you discover the American wood that is just as good for bow-making as pernambuco, let me know. I sense a fantastic business opportunity here. Strange that no one seems to have exploited it so far, but then you are obviously smarter than the average bear, nyet?

All the same, I am curious what your music performance degree is in. Does it involve instruments? Do the instruments have any wooden components?

Jason said...

I wonder how well a rosewood, oak, mohagany or maple fingerboard would last on a violin before you had to change it.

Answer: Not long at all. And the softer woods would absorb too much of the sound.

You see, genius, the reason they use ebony is because nothing else is even close.

Even ebony fingerboards are frequently swapped out at the concert virtuouso level, because of string wear.

No informed individual would EVER think that woods are interchangeable. And guess what... music performance is a very different track than instrument making. Never met a performance degree holder who knew much about luthiering. Totally different discipline.

I'm a performing violinist, and guitarist, too. I'm dumb enough to make a substantial part of my living from it, these days. Grew up playing Gibsons, and still own a Gibson J-45.

These aren't beginner-level instruments we're talking about. You can't just use any domestic wood when you're making a pro-level instrument. You need certain qualities of age and sonority that are very specific. Woods from certain areas have specific qualities as surely as wines do.

With violins, it's even more of an issue, because a pro-level violin MUST project to a whole concert hall, over an orchestra. You can't compromise at that level... and many of the great violins, the Strads, the Cremonas, etc., have already been built. But every time a top-level player leaves the country with one, she's exposed to the risk of protofascists like you getting officious.

PLUS, the some of the repertoire is written to be played with a bow that responds a certain way.

I know a thing or two more than you do... about THESE particular instruments. I'm not a luthier, but have a solid working knowledge of them. You're talking out your ass.

Joe Schmoe said...

"Some white people in another country made it illegal for us to cut down our tree."

Nope. The Malagasy government did that all on its own. Now it profits from bribes given to it by the illegal harvesters. Just like the Canadian shale oil, if America won't buy it, China will!

The demand for the wood isn't going away. Making it illegal instead of opening it up to free markets is driving the whole industry underground, and subjecting the Malagasy people to poverty and organized crime in the process.

AReasonableMan said...

As a woodworker and a guitarist, this guy is definitely feigning naivety regarding the problems with legally obtaining exotic woods. Creating sustainable ways to maintain access to these woods has been a problem for at least twenty years. All the small manufacturers, the ones doing actual creative work with guitars, know this and abide by these restrictions because they know that if they don't they won't have the resources to pursue they livelihood in the long run.

This guy is an arrogant ass. His company is living off innovations made by others fifty years ago. The current owners haven't done anything new in decades. They are leeches on nostalgia. Government regulations can and do stifle innovation in some cases but this is not one of them.

but I am a robot said...

"this guy is definitely feigning naivety..."

Read the damn article. Even if you're so smart as to know how the law should be settled on this issue, I think his position looks tenable. Regardless, knowledge of the law doesn't make the law any less arbitrary and oppressive, hence Juszkiewicz's concern about outsourcing jobs.

"His company is living off innovations made by others fifty years ago."

What a wonderful variation on "you didn't build that." Yes, you'd say Gibson's marketing strategy is to capitalize on tradition, but they're still not bringing in some chump off the street to run the company.

Jason said...

I checked Gibson's site last year, a little while after the raid.

They were advertising for someone with extensive experience in guitars and large-scale manufacturing to put together their new factory.

In China.

Good move, Mr. President!

Jason said...

Aww, what's the matter, reasonableman? Couldn't qualify for a dealership?

AReasonableMan said...

The law is not arbitrary. Having watched the local idiots destroy the fishing around here it is hard not to recognize that there are limits to how much you can exploit these kind of natural resources.

Gibson makes the kind of guitars that can be made by a robot in China. I can't see any point wasting good wood on that.

damikesc said...

There are too many laws. They've been enacted by both Republican and Democratic legislatures, and signed by Republican and Democratic Presidents, Governors and Mayors.

If Romney wants to guarantee votes --- vow to go through the US code and cut 1,000 pages out each month. Nothing erodes respect for law more than an inability to actually comprehend WHAT the law is. Start gutting the laws we have and make them manageable.

Madisonman, I agree. But the real travesty is delegating interpretative power to the various bureaucrasies that are the sharp end of enforcement. Congress has little idea what it has enacted, and even less as to what the law will eventually become over time.

Why won't SCOTUS shoot down bills due to being too vague? If Congress wants to simply divest itself of its authority, it does not automatically mean they have the RIGHT to do so.

Unaccountable pencil-pushers in the EPA should not have a tiny fraction of the power they have.

Please tell me that none of you believe this. This is low level shit. I would venture a guess that this raid was approved by someone that is so far down the totem pole he or she has never even spoken to the president.

I absolutely believe it. This President has already shafted non-union Delphi to benefit unionized GM. He tried to fuck over Boeing for moving to a right-to-work state. He has indicted NOBODY in the entire financial meltdown.

He plays favorites. Under him, we are not a nation of laws.

Garage, if the quoted bits (from different emails at different times) are run together that way it's possible to make inferences, but they're just inferences, and not a smoking gun.

Synova, remember --- garage thinks Fast & Furious isn't a real thing and that had WAY more of a paper trail verifying it happened and who approved it and who lied about it under oath.

The other problem, of course, is that the laws are misdirected. Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, to name two, pose vastly larger margin costs on small businesses than on large corporations.

Don't limit it to recent events. The New Deal was a giant "fuck you!" to small businesses. It gave enormous benefits to huge corporations.

damikesc said...

The law is not arbitrary

India said it was legal.

We said India's interpretation of their law was incorrect.

Not arbitrary...how?

Having watched the local idiots destroy the fishing around here it is hard not to recognize that there are limits to how much you can exploit these kind of natural resources.

So, you don't REALLY oppose fascism. In SOME cases, it's peachy, huh?

Gibson makes the kind of guitars that can be made by a robot in China. I can't see any point wasting good wood on that.

So, screwing the working man is now reasonable? Intriguing theory.

Newsflash: There isn't much that couldn't be built by a robot. Cars? Easily could be built by robots.

Jason said...

Dude. You really need to get out more.

China's making some of the best mid-range violins in the world now. They have some marvelous instrument makers.

Gibson has long manufactured a full-range of instruments for the learner on up, at Gibson, Epiphone etc. As flat-tops go, the top Gibsons are outstanding, as are the top Martins, once in a while I even find a good Taylor, though most of them sound tinny or brassy. Maybe because their wood stocks are not as aged.

They don't pull out the good ones for everyone, though. Kind of like wine... the good wine comes out at the end of the party for a few.

AReasonableMan said...

So, you don't REALLY oppose fascism. In SOME cases, it's peachy, huh?


It's fascist to agree with catch limits? You just called a lot of working and recreational fishermen around here a bunch of fascists. Recognizing the limits of nature to renew itself is not fascism. Refusal to recognize the reality of these limits is stupidity.

Again, the kind of product that Gibson sells is not something we should be wasting a lot of time worrying about. Real luthiers, actual entrepreneurs, don't seem to be lining up in support of these hacks. For good reason. Everybody else is willing to play by the rules for the long term health of the industry.

Jason said...

Gosh... competing luthiers who don't need to buy wood in the same quantities are't lining up to support their most successful competitor.

I can't imagine why.

Jason said...

You haven't established that Gibson was not playing by the rules.

AReasonableMan said...

Look, I own an old Gibson. I have nothing against the guitars. This being said, the company has been run by a bunch of hacks who haven't had one innovative idea between them in forty years and now they try to drum up some support for their crappy company by playing the victim card. This is the kind of company that has given US manufacturing a bad name. They are little more than patent trolls at this point, with a largely foreign manufacturing base.

AReasonableMan said...

You haven't established that Gibson was not playing by the rules.

Not really my job to do this, not a lawyer (Praise the Lord). If this was so terribly unreasonable don't you think we would be hearing from other luthiers?

Rusty said...

The demand for the wood isn't going away. Making it illegal instead of opening it up to free markets is driving the whole industry underground, and subjecting the Malagasy people to poverty and organized crime in the process.


My point exactly. Rather than a black market where there is just an incentive for a quick buck, A free market naturally desires a sustained resource.

damikesc said...

It's fascist to agree with catch limits? You just called a lot of working and recreational fishermen around here a bunch of fascists.

To use the government in such a manner? Yes, very much so.

Just admit you support fascism and it'll all be cool.

Again, the kind of product that Gibson sells is not something we should be wasting a lot of time worrying about. Real luthiers, actual entrepreneurs, don't seem to be lining up in support of these hacks.

Opponents aren't defending a major rival? Color me stunned. So, it's OK for the government to capriciously shut down manufacturing and cost a company millions...as long as you don't approve of their product.

This being said, the company has been run by a bunch of hacks who haven't had one innovative idea between them in forty years and now they try to drum up some support for their crappy company by playing the victim card.

Yes, having Indian lawyers saying the wood doesn't violate Indian law but having the US government say that it does --- how DARE he claim to be a victim of a frivolous government action targeting one specific guitar manufacturer who didn't donate to Obama.

BURN THE HERETIC!!

They are little more than patent trolls at this point, with a largely foreign manufacturing base.

After reading these stories, I must ask if any US company who still manufacturers anything here is sane or rational. I wouldn't manufacture a damned thing here, either.

Not really my job to do this, not a lawyer (Praise the Lord). If this was so terribly unreasonable don't you think we would be hearing from other luthiers?

Funny how people who donate to Obama have few legal problems but ones who don't have all kinds of federal inspection of their businesses, huh?

Revenant said...

My only other nit to pick is where you say the government has infinite money. Right now it only has whatever creditor nations are willing to borrow.

You're forgetting that it can print money, too. It already has, to the tune of over a trillion dollars over the last few years.

Revenant said...

It's fascist to agree with catch limits?

If you devoted as much time to understanding an issue as you do to commenting on it, you would be aware of the fact that the wood Gibson was using was (a) legally harvested and (b) in accordance with all environmental regulations.

They were accused of violating a foreign *labor* law the country in question never claimed was violated.

In summary: next time, read the article before sounding off on it.

AReasonableMan said...

damikesc, your paranoid raving is what these hacks are relying on. Keep up the good work.

And, again, catch limits are not fascist. Anyone who believes this is seriously troubled.

There must be some innovative US company that could benefit from all this anger. Why not find an actual example of government overreach rather than just make one up based on presumed ideological solidarity. This is a particularly stupid reason to support this company. Simply because some company gives money to your party does not mean they support your ideals. They may simply see a smart business opportunity. For all you know most of the people who financially benefit from the company may be a bunch of limp-wristed socialists living in Williamsburg.

AReasonableMan said...

Revenant said...
It's fascist to agree with catch limits?

If you devoted as much time to understanding an issue as you do to commenting on it.


I was responding to another commenter. If you spent as much time reading what everyone wrote as you do commenting on it you would have noticed this.

Jason said...

If this is about sustainability, then why on earth does the law differentiate between the raw material and a finished product?

damikesc said...

And, again, catch limits are not fascist. Anyone who believes this is seriously troubled.

If it's government mandated --- yeah, it is.

Just admit you'll drink the Kool-Aid if it's the flavor you like.

Don't worry --- it's NEVER fascist if you do it.

There must be some innovative US company that could benefit from all this anger. Why not find an actual example of government overreach rather than just make one up based on presumed ideological solidarity. This is a particularly stupid reason to support this company. Simply because some company gives money to your party does not mean they support your ideals. They may simply see a smart business opportunity. For all you know most of the people who financially benefit from the company may be a bunch of limp-wristed socialists living in Williamsburg.

If you don't notice that donors to Obama don't tend to have a lot of legal problems (again, ZERO indictments involving the financial meltdown from the same Wall St that gave him millions. Non-union Delphi getting shafted while union GM getting its pension "saved". Movie companies getting "classified" documents to make movies glorifying Obama. Chrysler dealers who happen to donate to Republicans getting shut down in dramatically larger numbers than ones who donate to Democrats) then you really are as dumb as you come across.

AReasonableMan said...

OK. Finally you have a valid point. While you are wrong that they didn't indict anyone they certainly didn't indict enough. Unquestionably the biggest failure of Obama's presidency.

Jason said...

Reasonable Man: 'they don't innovate. They're patent trolls.'

HAR!!!!

AReasonableMan said...

Jason said...
Reasonable Man: 'they don't innovate. They're patent trolls.'

HAR!!!!


Name the last time Gibson came up with a useful innovation that advanced the art of guitar making. Once again, I own a Gibson, an old one. I have nothing against the guitars. The current version of the company sucks. A bunch of empty suits playing out the string on now long past glories, sustained purely by nostalgia.

Jason said...

Dumbass... if they didn't innovate, they wouldn't have patents.

At any rate, I don't want an "innovative" guitar. I want a good one. Innovations are the last thing I need. Cf. those awful Ovations everyone was playing in large venues in the 1980s.

Furthermore, they shouldn't have to be an innovator to be entitled to fair treatment under the law. It's enough that they are Americans, and employ American workers. I don't know what this hard-on you have for Gibson is. It's bizzarre. But you're willing to throw a lot of basic freedoms and due process overboard for your fetish.

Are you secretly Cedarford, and you think Gibson is run by Jews or something?

AReasonableMan said...

Please do not call me dumbass, when you clearly lack basic reading comprehension skills. As I stated previously, in quite simple terms, the current owners have shown no sign of having the slightest ability to compete on any basis other than the legacy of the company, to which they contributed nothing.

Jason said...

I comprehended your point. Your assertion that the current management brings no value to the company - even if true - is utterly irrelevant.

They could have the worst team of managers in history, and it is still irrelevant to the question at hand... even bad managers are entitled to evenhanded law enforcement.

Hey, how do you get a guitar player to stop noodling?

A: Put a piece of sheet music in front of him.

Synova said...

"My point exactly. Rather than a black market where there is just an incentive for a quick buck, A free market naturally desires a sustained resource."

In defense of the free market I feel compelled to point out... only if the trees are OWNED by individuals and the culture involved provides for the protection of property rights.

Otherwise it's a free-for-all and no motivation for sustainability exists, only getting what can be had before it's gone.

Like those community-owned fish farms.

Revenant said...

Name the last time Gibson came up with a useful innovation that advanced the art of guitar making.

You accused them of being patent trolls. Patent trolls are people who come up with new ideas (or buy existing patents) and then do nothing with them, opting instead to wait for someone ELSE to build something with them so they can be sued. Even if it was true that they have come up with no useful innovations recently, that wouldn't make your claim correct.

And of course your claim is irrelevant regardless. Government oppression can't be justified on the basis of "oh well, the company made crappy guitars anyway".

AReasonableMan said...

Jason said... even bad managers are entitled to evenhanded law enforcement.

Revenant said... Government oppression can't be justified on the basis of "oh well, the company made crappy guitars anyway".

I agree with both these statements I just don't think they apply here. The absence of any support from any other luthiers is very telling. This is not simply because they are competitors. The people who buy Gibson guitars these days are doing so solely for the name, which no one else can compete with. If they are buying on quality or price no one buys a Gibson guitar.

Simply because the current owners are making a fuss about this on the basis that they are being targeted because of their politics doesn't make it true. They could just be full of it, which seems most likely. All the other manufacturers operate under the same conditions, which are important for the long term health not just of this industry but also for custom furniture manufacturers. Gibson is certainly not the only woodworking company to have run afoul of these laws.

AReasonableMan said...

Revenant said... You accused them of being patent trolls. Patent trolls are people who come up with new ideas (or buy existing patents)

The current owners bought the GIbson's patents, originating from previous innovator's work, when they bought the company. They have then engaged in endless law suits, most notably with PRS, in order to suppress more innovative competitor's products. They have relied on litigation rather than innovation to maintain their market position. These losers don't deserve anyone's support. The current owners are no different to any other patent trolls as far as I can see.

Revenant said...

The absence of any support from any other luthiers is very telling.

No, it isn't. They have absolutely no business interest in speaking up for Gibson.

What is telling is that nobody can name an actual law that Gibson broke. The law they are *accused* of breaking is a foreign law -- that the actual foreign country never said was broken. When nobody can identify a law that was broken, honestly "reasonable men" conclude no law was broken.

AReasonableMan said...

The fact that the company settled rather than go to court tells you everything you need to know about how the proverbial reasonable man would see this case.

Jason said...

The fact that the company settled rather than go to court tells you everything you need to know about how the proverbial reasonable man would see this case.

Not even remotely.

Innocent people cut their losses and settle all the time. The shakedown business relies on that shit, and they have insurance for it and the insurance company may pressure to settle - especially if their liability policy contains a 'right but not a duty to defend' clause.

Your thinking isn't wholly without precedent, though. It fits in well with Stalinist show trials, star-chambers, the Pharisees hauling Jesus before Pilate, and Mr. "If she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood... and therefore a witch," though.

Look, if you want me to stop calling you a dumbass, you're gonna have to meet me halfway here and stop thinking like a dumbass.

Jason said...

Hey, dumbass...

When you buy a company, you get the patents, too. That's how it works.

Geez.

AReasonableMan said...

Jason said... When you buy a company, you get the patents, too.

Yes, but a healthy well run company, managed by innovative smart people, rather than dumbass patent trolls, then continues to innovate, not just sue the ass off all their competitors based on their preexisting set of patents, most of which date from before the current owners were born. There is no defense of the management of this particular company. It is the kind of company that gives empty suits a bad name.

Jason said...

You keep pushing that idiotic meme, and it's just as stupid as Cedarford's obsession with progressive liberal Jews.

Gibson gets to do it because they own the patents.

Your assertion that Gibson stopped innovating under the new owners is also false: The company obtained at least two patents that I know of under the new owners.

But even if they never had a single patent, and never made a single innovation, my point would still stand:

Your assumption that they were guilty because they ultimately settled rather than risk the company executives getting charged with a felony is the stuff of fascism. You can take that idea and pack it off with you to Hell.

john gray said...

we cant say about laws . some time they are good and some time they are bad in appropriate situation which is arise on time.
bearish of economy is dangerous not only proper country as well as all the worlds financial sector.
indian anti-corruption act

Jason said...

Let's recontextualize ReasonableMan's argument:

"That wasn't rape! She clearly stopped struggling as soon as he held a gun to her head! She clearly wanted it.

Besides. She doesn't deserve the protection of law, anyway. She was a lousy cook! She doesn't deserve your sympathy or protection. "

AReasonableMan said...

Jason, by any chance are you related to the owner's of Gibson guitars? You are the only person i have heard claim that these people aren't the epitome of the kind of empty suits that have run most US manufacturing into the ground. By way of comparison, it is a much more poorly run company than Harley Davidson, which also largely lives off nostalgia. Harley at least makes a product that looks better than the competition.

Again if these people were the kind of principled martyrs they claim to be they would have had their day in court. They are located in a part of the country were they could have reasonably expected to get a fair trial.