Gibson Guitar becomes cause celebre for conservatives
The feds were after contraband in Gibson's Tennessee factories that day — ebony and rosewood they suspected was illegally imported from India. But their actions against the company whose guitars have been strummed by B.B. King, Bob Dylan and John Lennon netted some unanticipated results: infamy on talk radio and from commentators on the right.
Weeks later, the raid has generated publicity worthy of a rock concert. Groups like the "tea party" and the GOP, and VIPs like House Speaker John A. Boehner and Rush Limbaugh, have grabbed hold of it as an extreme example of how government regulations are strangling American enterprise.
The regulations being referred to are the amendments to the Lacey Act which made it illegal to import the wood for the fret boards because the export of the unfinished wood from India was not legal there. Gibson went ahead with the shipments anyway. At the casino this behavior is referred to as "gambling".
As for the amendment to the Lacey Act that made the import of the Indian wood illegal, it was tucked away in the 2008 US Farm Bill that George Bush vetoed over the excessive cost to taxpayers. In order to get enough GOP votes in Congress for an override the Democratic leadership allowed GOP House members load the bill up with pork. In any case, the 2008 Farm Bill was passed and the Lacey Act was amended legally.
So now for the Gibson CEO to complain that the law is actually being enforced and for politicians to claim that the law is proof of environmental regulations run amok is silly. If you don't agree with a law, then by all means, work within the legal channels to change it. If the corporate strategy is to just go ahead and flout the law then don't be surprised when the Feds show up to shut it down. Imagine if Gibson had used illegal labor instead of illegal materials. Would the same GOP cheerleaders be out front defending their right to do what it takes to compete in the marketplace?
And another note to GOP members of Congress. The next time the other side gives you the green light to load up a bill with pork to buy your support, you just might want to actually read whats in the Bill that you agree to vote "Aye" on. That way you won't look stupid a few years later complaining about what was in the fine print.
My own Gibson guitar was made in Kalamazoo Michigan. It has the now illegal fretboard wood.
It's not for sale.