If I leave here tomorrowWould you still remember me?For I must be travelling on, now,’Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.
— Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Bullying small and medium businesses, sending armed goons to American factories, confiscating private property, closing down production and harassing business owners and their employees; a curious strategy for nurturing domestic job creation, wouldn’t you say?
The above strategies might seem ludicrous, even downright criminal, to we laypeople, but to government officials, it’s “all in a day’s work.” Take, for example, the latest case of The Feds vs. Gibson Guitars.
Actually, it’s not even a case yet, not officially…but that didn’t stop armed agents from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (these guys have guns?) from raiding two of Gibson’s production facilities in Tennessee and its Nashville headquarters last Wednesday. The agents confiscated “nearly $1 million in Indian ebony, finished guitars and electronic data,” according to the company’s CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz.
“It was a nightmare,” fumed Mr. Juszkiewicz after the incident, “We had people sitting there making guitars. We had no weapons.”
This is not the first time the feds have actively sought to bum Gibson’s vibe (a job-creating vibe, let us not forget — Gibson’s Tennessee factories alone employ over 700 people). The feds last crashed the party back in 2009, seizing a shipment of ebony from Madagascar. They claimed they were there — and, again, armed — to enforce the Lacey Act, a century-old endangered species act that was amended in 2008 to include plants and animals.
But before activists get their patchouli incense sticks in a knot, it’s worth noting that Gibson is not your typical — or even atypical — enemy of the planet.
“Agents seized wood that was Forest Stewardship Council controlled,” Juszkiewicz noted, in a quote carried on the company’s website. “Gibson has a long history of supporting sustainable and responsible sources of wood and has worked diligently with entities such as the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to secure FSC-certified supplies. The wood seized on August 24 satisfied FSC standards.”
Your editor has no idea where the Forest Stewardship Council, the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace stand in this particular case…but we’d bet it’s not on the side of the “greedy, seal-clubbing, old growth-uprooting capitalist pigs.”
“We’ve been importing this wood for 17 years, consistently, on a regular basis, with no problem,” Juszkiewicz told Fox News yesterday. “And our competitors continue to use and buy this wood without any problem today.”
Juszkiewicz says the government won’t tell him exactly how — or if — his company has violated that law.
“We’re in this really incredible situation,” continued Mr. Juszkiewicz. “We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven’t been charged with anything,” he says. “Our business has been injured to millions of dollars. And we don’t even have a court we can go to and say, ‘Look, here’s our position.’”
It’s also worth noting that the relevant law doesn’t actually protect the trees themselves…just how — or, more specifically, where — the wood is finished. It’s perfectly legal for Gibson to use the wood, in other words, it just can’t use its own workers to fashion the wood into a guitar. That work needs to be done in India. Call it “mandatory outsourcing”…from the same people who will next week bring you their ideas on how best to create jobs in America.
In response to their…uh… “treatment,” Juszkiewicz and Gibson have mobilized their supporters via social media networks, encouraging people on Facebook and Twitter to write their representatives and demand action. The company also launched a Twitter campaign under the hashtag:
Tweeted Juszkiewicz last Friday: “Why is big government spending our money to harm ordinary citizens and small businesses?”
For the record, your editors here at The Daily Reckoning have no political dog in this fight. That a “red state” company is being harassed by a “blue state” administration may or may not be a “fluke.” Either way, the politics of it all is of little interest to us. In the end, we are fans of private action and government inaction, not the other way around.
But since the government insists on acting — and acting in the only vulgar, brutish way it knows — we’ll return the favor and harass them a little…peacefully, without guns, in the only way we know.
As you probably already know, next week Obama is scheduled to deliver his much-lauded “Jobs Speech.” We are already getting a flavor of what it might contain as advice from tenured economics professors, leading experts and other well-degreed blowhards begin seeping into the pages of the mainstream press. Unsurprisingly, the proposed solution to having over-spent and under-saved is…you guessed it…more spending!
Here’s a snippet from The Huffington Post:
At the top of many to-do lists is government spending into the tens of billions of dollars to finance large-scale public works projects, a strategy that could address a gaping mismatch: Nearly 14 million Americans are officially out of work, yet a great deal of work needs to be done, from repairing dilapidated roads and bridges, to retrofitting government office buildings with energy-efficient infrastructure.
Gary Burtless, a former Labor Department economist and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, chimed in, “If the government spends the money directly on government-funded projects, that puts people on payrolls.”
And here’s Pavlina R. Tcherneva, an economist at Franklin & Marshall College, echoing Mr. Burtless’ brilliance, “We still have mass layoffs in those [manufacturing and construction] sectors. It seems very obvious that we can absorb large numbers of workers in those sectors for the public good.”
Ah yes…it’s all so obvious! More spending!…More public works!…More government involvement! You know, because all this worked so very well for the country with The New Deal…
Following the above logic, the government ought to spend billions of dollars it doesn’t have undertaking projects it has no demonstrable skill in completing simply to “put people on payrolls.” Heck, why stop at billions? Hasn’t academia heard? Billions are for wimps. Trillion is the new figure du jour. Why not pay every un- or under-employed American a thousand bucks a minute to scrape gum off the sidewalk? Think of the boost to GDP! Think of the payroll numbers! Think of all that “public good!” And think of all the Chinese-made trinkets and Indian-fashioned guitars those people could then buy with their million-dollar bank balances!
One is left to wonder: with thinkers like these, who needs idiots?
[N.B.: Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist, Allen Collins, used a Gibson Firebird, and later switched to playing a Gibson Explorer. Starting in late 1977, he also occasionally used a double-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Junior.]
Joel Bowmanfor The Daily Reckoning
Joel Bowman is managing editor of The Daily Reckoning. After completing his degree in media communications and journalism in his home country of Australia, Joel moved to Baltimore to join the Agora Financial team. His keen interest in travel and macroeconomics first took him to New York where he regularly reported from Wall Street, and he now writes from and lives all over the world.
“Juszkiewicz says the government won’t tell him exactly how — or if — his company has violated that law.”
not a word about what the warrant said? can’t have a search and seizure without a warrant, and it has to say what is to be seized. and it has to be signed by a judge who has to be able to explain why he signed it.
John Hinderaker at PowerLine summed it up well—
“It has come out that Juszkiewicz is a Republican donor, while the CEO of one of his principal competitors, C.F. Martin & Company, is a Democratic donor. Martin reportedly uses the same wood, but DOJ hasn’t raided them, leading to speculation that the Obama administration is sending a warning to Republican businessmen that they had better not oppose his re-election, lest they face criminal investigations. Normally such speculation would not be credible, but Eric Holder has politicized the Department of Justice to a point where such questions must be taken seriously. …”
Have cannons will travel! A glimpse of cowboy world on the rise. I, too, own a recoilless cannon, firing rounds after rounds of pure water with no cost.
“We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven’t been charged with anything,”
…Now you know how many American Muslims feel, caught up in witch hunts they are twisting in the wind legally. Catch the bad guys–please–but many innocents are caught up in this
You know…you had some very good points to make but you had to go off the deep end and into a hyperbolic Rush Limbaugh style rant against “Big Gummint” and “Patchouli Activists”. Too bad. Your hyper-emotional style will only appeal to the tri-cornered hat crowd and the substance regarding spending and government over reach is lost on anyone thoughtful. It’s a trend I’ve noticed with Daily Reckoning: less and less insight into economics and investing and more and more tired bawling about the political left.
Well said Free Bird.
Now the only question in our ever increasing socialist police state is whether they should be called Stasi or Gestapo !
“It’s a trend I’ve noticed with Daily Reckoning: less and less insight into economics and investing and more and more tired bawling about the political left.”
at this time isn’t politics the single biggest influence on infestment success?
“Now you know how many American Muslims feel, caught up in witch hunts ….”
here’s a tip about american culture. the phrase “witch hunt” is used when that which is being searched for does not in fact actually exist.
When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.- Ayn Rand
“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” Ronald Reagan
I think the politically in-correct word is Govstapo…coming soon through your front door.
For Gman: Many US government agencies can execute a search and seizure with guns showing and even imprison(yes, even imprison) without a search warrant, an arrest warrant or any order from a court. They act through directives issued within the agency. I learned this from an IRS director who told me she has the authority to order such an action and has her own government issued handgun for this purpose.
for Bill: what you describe if accurate is completely outside the constitution.
For Gman: on whether politics is the single biggest influence on investment success…
No it is not. There is very little direct correlation. Obama’s supposedly business-hostile policies have seen a 46% rise in the S&P during his tenure whereas Bush Jr.s ostensibly business-friendly policies saw a 40% decline over his 8 years in office. Even considering industry specifics…Bush’s Medicare Part D did not lift pharmaceuticals as one might have expected. Nor did “Obamacare’s” provisions depress healthcare stocks. Investing is way more complicated than that. Which is why I’m sorry to see Daily Reckoning lose it’s non-emotional objectivity…if it ever had any to begin with.
Yes, you have a political dog in this fight, it called the Constitution. Unreasonable search and seizure are banned by this our most basic law.
More and more and more government, with more and more and more force (read “intimidation”). Is there some secret regarding the viewpoints of DR’s “Cast of Characters?”
If you are a supporter of the routine taking of the fruits of labors of the productive and handing them off to the nonproductive in the interest of improving the world, you have come to the wrong place.
Furthermore, if you believe that zombies in the marketplace are good for investment, and that the rise of the stock market, or that 100% perfect trading days in a quarter actually reflect some free market dynamic, it is likely you’re burning something beside patchouli.
For Gman: I flew by commercial aviation this past week. I and everyone who boarded a plane were searched without a search warrant and many items were seized without a search warrant. This is an in-your-face example of the over-reach of the federal government. Yes, it’s extra-constitutional just as the action of other federal agencies are, such as described by Joel Bowman in this article.
Perhaps, “how the west was won” plays a greater part in influence. The boy on horseback remains the cultural legacy of the Renaissance. Maybe zooming motivating force from all direction has much bearing on events that to behold. Not all movies are exactly good or bad.
to play the role of lawyer -
to be fair, the airports are not public property per se. tsa does publish far and wide that searches will take place and that certain items will be seized. no-one is forced to step into an airport and alternatives to air travel do exist, thus stepping into the airport necessarily implies consent.
now one may readily argue that tsa’s actions are ineffective. and one may readily argue that air travel alternatives are excessively inconvenient and thus that tsa’s actions represent the thin end of a wedge. but tsa’s actions do not readiy compare to a peaceful business suddenly being overrun on its own property and millions of dollars of presumably legitimate materials being confiscated with no particular charge or allegation or recourse being offered.
I feel so good to be out of the USA. Never felt as free as I do in singapore. In the US, freedom is not even theoretical. It’s fantastical, i.e. a fantasy which exists solely in people’s minds. In Singapore, all the authoritarianism is strictly theoretical. Practically, it’s really free.
Huh? When did Singapore become free? You can`t even say anything critical of the government or else you`ll be jailed. Every form of criticism and protest is outlawed and don`t think you can buy a car without at least 100 k dollars to hand over. Think I prefer Usa for me and my family
One of the recommended destination of migration is of course a dependent-client nation. Red carpet will be unrolled awaiting your arrival. There, no one will offend you.
freedom is relative. if by “freedom” you mean “complaints” then singapore is not where you want to be. if by “freedom” you mean “business” then very likely singapore is a fun place.
comment # 24 (?) for joel, today!
it’s the libs @ Martin! the pulled into nazareth, feelin about half-past 0′bummer, and dropped a weight on gibson?!!?
ebony and ebony?
o where o where will the nanny state go?
all these turds with stinkin badges can go stick a double humbucker where the sun don’t shine!
The awesome force of the Federal Government conducts a raid on a guitar factory – for chrissake – and you take issue with the commentator and his “Limbaugh style rant.”
I wonder where you would have stood with a Thomas Jefferson rant, or even a George Orwell rant. Too tri-cornered hat crowd for your taste, I am sure.
Welcome to the USSR!
And it gets better, it turns out the US government openly told Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has openly advised him in a pleading that if he simply were to move his workforce to Madagascar, he could avoid his current quandary entirely!?!
It’s mind boggling!!!
The ordering of executions abroad. The use of armed personel against harmless commercial operations at home. (The FDA did the same to supplement organizations in the recent past). The relentless deceit, obfuscation and lack of transparency. The ever encroaching power of the authorities. This “Land of the free, home of the brave” is getting to be a scary place to live. Perhaps I shouldn’t even write this, who knows what lists I will be promoted to? To protect me for my own good.
The truth is, Gibson guitar probably made a contribution to the Republican party OR is not union OR both..Remember all the car dealerships that were closed by the government. Ninety nine percent that got closed were Republican party contributors. I don’t care which party you align yourself with, This is wrong and should not be tolerated by a free society…I mean ex-free society..
“One is left to wonder: with thinkers like these, who needs idiots?”
We need you Allen!
Remember that the goverment is the United States of America! So if you badmouth the goverment, you’re a traitor!
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