The Horrible Lacey Act & The Gibson Guitar Raids

By now, you’ve probably heard a bit about the Obama DOJ’s two raids on iconic American manufacturer Gibson Guitars. The story has made headlines around the world as another shocking example of how far the current administration is willing to take their antipathy for successful businesses. If you need to get caught up, the Bigs have broken news on this story, including two exclusive interviews with Gibson’s CEO (one by me and a must-hear interview by Dana Loesch) plus an important piece by John Nolte.

As much as the Obama Administration deserves scorn for their overzealous prosecution, I’ve been researching the background of this story and have found that there’s another culprit – the entire United States Congress and their passage of an amendment to The Lacey Act back in 2008 that’s a prime example of an awful, anti-business law done in the name of environmentalism.

When you learn the details of the Lacey Act Amendments I think you’ll agree that they need to repealed as soon as humanely possible.

The amendments were passed in 2008 as part of the behemoth omnibus Farm Bill. The problem they were trying to address was the deforestation in countries like Madagascar, where ‘exotic woods’ like rosewood and ebony come from. Some of these problems resulted from political instability in the country, which created a grey market for these woods where the new ruling governments looked the other way and profited from the illegal wood harvest.

Where is all this wood going? Interestingly, 95% of it is going to China – not for re-export but for domestic use. The wealthy in China love rosewood and ebony furniture. In fact, the next time you hear a liberal attack the Koch Brothers or whatever rich-person-of-the-moment that they want to attack, picture someone in China who sleeps in an $800,000 bed. That’s not a misprint – if you want to see a picture of what a nearly million dollar bed looks like, you might want to check out this stylish report – it’s on Page 11. There’s a million dollar Chinese bed on page 16, too. And the report makes mention of the first Gibson raid on page 9.

So how have papers like The New York Times reported on this? Do you think they might possibly use misleading or even blatantly false reporting to try and guilt out their environmentally hip urban left wing readership? This is from a 2010 article on their ‘Green Blog’… is not only the Chinese who covet the rich look of rosewood. Much of the furniture gets exported to the United States and Europe. Some of it appears in the polished contours of beautiful guitars.

Let’s parse those three short sentences.

It’s true – it’s not ONLY the Chinese who like rosewood. They are only responsible for a mere 95% of it. And when the Times says ‘much of the furniture’ gets exported to the U.S. and Europe…well, that’s not at all what the report says. Go look at top of Page 5, which uses the phrase ‘small quantities’. And to finish – they mention guitars. You know, guitars like the ones Gibson makes.

So, we have the New York Times providing false ideological cover and justification for the Lacey Act amendments and their enforcement. The goal is to create a smokescreen of false equivalence when, in fact, this is almost exclusively a problem caused by the Chinese – and China doesn’t seem to have passed any laws or made any agreements related to this issue at all. I looked and I couldn’t find any.

Meanwhile, the United States Congress passed Amendments to the Lacey Act to put the hammer down on whatever small part of the 5% that anyone in the United Starts is responsible for. If the penalties weren’t so draconian it would be another laughable example totally ineffective environmental symbolism. Remember, even if the U.S. were to stop every single import of rosewood, it wouldn’t actually solve whatever problem may exist in Madagascar at all.

How bad are the Lacey Act Amendments?

While China does nothing, the U.S. Congress saw fit to punish U.s businesses with fines of $500,000 and jail sentences of 5 years. This can’t be emphasized enough because it’s a real human consequence – the Federal Government is on the verge of possibly putting the CEO of Gibson Guitars in prison and doing enough economic damage to shut down the company for good.

I’m not even mentioning the new bureaucracy and paperwork requirements. I’m not going into the fines of $100,000 and a year in prison for unknowingly violating the Lacey Act Amendments. I’m ignoring the cost to the taxpayers of this enforcement. You can read all about those disgusting elements in the cartoony Primer that your tax dollars paid for and you’ll see I’m not joking about the cartoons.

The consequences of this awful, ineffective law are no joke, either. It’s happening to Gibson Guitars right now. I don’t grant the government the facts for second; Gibson is innocent until proven guilty and they haven’t even been charged. But remember what’s at stake. A man might go to prison. People will lose their jobs. And the rosewood of Madagascar will still be sent to China to make $1,000,000 beds.


Unless we do something about it. Unless we draw a line in the sand and say enough. Unless some politician or Presidential hopeful picks up on this as the perfect example of government versus U.S. business. Herman Cain? Rick Perry? Rep. Bachmann? Mitt Romney? Thad McCotter? Anyone?

The Liberal Response To #GuitarGate

gibson-newsIs government overreach of the kind we see in the Gibson Guitar story an issue liberals could care less about? I’d bet my middle finger if the Bush Administration had done this, it would be front and center on left wing sites. But Obama? Holder? Not so much. Did a Google Search – it’s all conservative blogs talking about this. Here’s a screen grab – Malin, Red State, Breitbart, Hoft and so on..

So I went to hear the voice of the people – the Daily Kos.


Yes, one blogger wrote about it. One.

And it’s a good post. Hits on the right points.  Read it…

The author says…

I don’t know exactly what else Gibson could have done to avoid this. Apparently, they have all of the correct permits required by the Indian government, and those permits were presented and accepted by the U.S. Customs Service when the wood was imported. They have the stamp of approval of the Forest Stewardship Council. They’re actually manufacturing a high-value, world-famous product in the United States, providing jobs to U.S. workers. Maybe there’s something I’m not seeing here, but I don’t know what.

But here’s the very first comment…

Do you enjoy destroying the worlds forests?

Using banned species?

More than likely even though the guitar maker has all the correct paper work the paper work itself was bogus at the Indian end of things and Gibson knew it.

This happens all the time.treehugger-detail

That’s why they took the computers.

As usual DKos people only care about species when they have doe eyes. Tropical forests support the largest diversity of species of any environment in the world and the loss of the forests themselves is the most pressing cause of species loss, equal to global warming.

I would hr your tip jar (NOTE: SEE BELOW – LEE), something I’ve not done to a posting here yet. I’m ashamed to think anyone reading this would think DK users have such a blatant disregard for the ecosystems of the world.

Any tropical hardwood can be replaced with an equally good hardwood from the US, the difference is strictly cosmetic. They are meeting a demand form customers who could care less about tropical forests. Don’t let that be you.

HR is ‘hide rating’ and it means call for making the content invisible. As in, let’s not even allow the material to be seen. Censorship, Kos-style.

And to the commenter – dude. Go sell your albums. Because all that music you like? Dead trees galore.