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  1. #1
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    OT: Environmentalists and trade protectionists set trap for Gibson Guitar Co.

    from...

    Strassel: Stringing Up Gibson Guitar - WSJ.com

    "On a sweltering day in August, federal agents raided the Tennessee factories of the storied Gibson Guitar Corp. The suggestion was that Gibson had violated the Lacey Act—a federal law designed to protect wildlife—by importing certain India ebony. The company has vehemently denied that suggestion and has yet to be charged. It is instead living in a state of harassed legal limbo.

    Which, let's be clear, is exactly what its persecutors had planned all along. The untold story of Gibson is this: It was set up.

    Most of the press coverage has implied that the company is the unfortunate victim of a well-meaning, if complicated, law. Stories note, in passing, that the Lacey Act was "expanded" in 2008, and that this has had "unintended consequences." Given Washington's reputation for ill-considered bills, this might make sense.

    Only not in this case. The story here is about how a toxic alliance of ideological activists and trade protectionists deliberately set about creating a vague law, one designed to make an example out of companies (like Gibson) and thus chill imports—even legal ones.

    The Lacey Act was passed in 1900 to stop trade in illegal wild game. Over the years it has expanded, and today it encompasses a range of endangered species. It requires American businesses to follow both U.S. and foreign law, though with most Lacey goods, this has been relatively clear. Think elephant tusks, tiger pelts or tropical birds.

    That changed in 2007, when an alliance of environmentalists, labor unions and industry groups began pushing for Lacey to cover "plant and plant products" and related items. Congress had previously resisted such a broad definition for the simple reason that it would encompass timber products. Trees are ubiquitous, are transformed into thousands of byproducts, and pass through dozens of countries. Whereas even a small U.S. importer would know not to import a tiger skin, tracking a sliver of wood (now transformed into a toy, or an umbrella) through this maze of countries and manufacturing laws back to the tree it came from, would be impossible.

    Furniture maker Ikea noted that even if it could comply with the change, the "administrative costs and record-keeping requirements" would cause furniture prices to "skyrocket." The wood chips that go into its particleboard alone could require tracking back and reporting on more than 100 different tree species.

    Which is exactly what the Lacey expanders wanted. The drive was headed up by a murky British green outfit called the Environmental Investigation Agency. The EIA is anti-logging, and, like most environmental groups, understands that the best way to force developing countries to "preserve" their natural resources is to dry up the market for their products. They would prefer that wood be sourced from the U.S. and Europe, where green groups have more influence over rules.

    The EIA was joined by labor unions such as the Teamsters and industry groups such as the American Forest and Paper Association. As Mark Barford of the Memphis-based National Hardwood Lumber Association told one news outlet: "We need the protection of the Lacey Act. . . . Our small, little companies cannot compete with artificially low prices from wood that comes in illegally. . . . This is our Jobs Act."

    While everyone can be against "illegal" wood, what this crew understood was that the complexity of complying with an expanded Lacey Act would discourage companies from importing even legal wood. They went to Sen. Ron Wyden, of the well-timbered Oregon, who dutifully introduced legislation.

    Mr. Wyden cleverly attached it to the wildly popular 2008 farm bill, guaranteeing its passage. Even then, some lawmakers sought to ensure that companies weren't unfairly ensnared. In October 2008, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter sent a letter to the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division (whose career staff is notorious for pursuing a green agenda), asking it to clarify whether any companies acting in good faith would be granted some protection from the law. The division has never clarified.

    And so Gibson has been trapped, as intended. The company, after all, is not accused of importing banned wood (say, Brazilian mahogany). The ebony it bought is legal and documented. The issue is whether Gibson ran afoul of a technical Indian law governing the export of finished wood products. The U.S. government's interpretation of Indian law suggests the wood Gibson imported wasn't finished enough. Got that?

    The EIA, which helped author the Wyden legislation, happens to have spent years publicly targeting Gibson for buying foreign wood. Oh, to see the Justice Department's communications with outside groups.

    Gibson was picked because it is famous and, sure enough, its travails have scared importers away from an array of foreign wood products. Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Jim Cooper are now working to give companies some protection and reduce paperwork. On cue, the EIA is howling that Congress is "gutting" Lacey.

    Congress would be better off doing just that—repealing the expansion in its entirety. The provision does nothing to stamp out illegal logging—the products from which were already clearly no-nos. This isn't environmental protection; it's hostage-taking."
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  2. #2
    ouch....
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    Do these guys ride bikes to work or something?
    Riding.....

  3. #3
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    first guitars, then TIRES!
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    Actually Gibson is a terrible company. They bought out Garrison Guitars located in Newfoundland Canada and alienated the entire customer base by immediately voiding the Garrison Guitar Warranties. During negotiations they said they would honour the warranties which would eventually run their course as the 5 years wound down but as soon as they closed the deal to purchase Garrison they went back on their word. They had the opportunity to acquire a customer base who was purchasing high end guitars in the $800 to $1500 range and instead decided to screw the works of them over. Realistically the warranty claims would have been a low liability to hold considering the potential for acquiring such a large customer base and the liability would have diminished as peoples warranties expired. Needless to say I will never support the company again, everything I buy from pics, straps, strings etc I do my best to make sure is from other companies now. Gibson is corporate greed at it's finest. I wouldn't piss on em to put out a fire...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Gibson is not the only company that suffers from this, all makers large and small could face severe shortages of "tone wood" because of the underhanded tactics of this. My two cents.




    Job creators in action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    There must be a tear in the space/time continuum.
    Sweet! we can go back and raise taxes. That will fix everything.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supermanofsteel View Post
    Actually Gibson is a terrible company. They bought out Garrison Guitars located in Newfoundland Canada and alienated the entire customer base by immediately voiding the Garrison Guitar Warranties. During negotiations they said they would honour the warranties which would eventually run their course as the 5 years wound down but as soon as they closed the deal to purchase Garrison they went back on their word. They had the opportunity to acquire a customer base who was purchasing high end guitars in the $800 to $1500 range and instead decided to screw the works of them over. Realistically the warranty claims would have been a low liability to hold considering the potential for acquiring such a large customer base and the liability would have diminished as peoples warranties expired. Needless to say I will never support the company again, everything I buy from pics, straps, strings etc I do my best to make sure is from other companies now. Gibson is corporate greed at it's finest. I wouldn't piss on em to put out a fire...


    Gibson is not the only company that suffers from this, all makers large and small could face severe shortages of "tone wood" because of the underhanded tactics of this. My two cents.

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    There must be a tear in the space/time continuum.

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    I'm an environmentalist.

    Does this clearly partisan "article" mean that I hate Gibson guitars, or does it mean that I hate all guitars in a general sense and seek to entrap all manufactures of said evil instrument while in cahoots with "trade protectionists?" Perhaps it means that as an environmentalist, my secret aim to to abolish all use of wood, and wood by-products from the world market, thereby allowing the collapse of the free market and the subsequent enslavement of the freedom loving people of the US by the UN's black-clad helicopter assault forces has taken a step closer to fruition...

    You'd think that the WSJ would refrain from hyperbole and rash, blanket generalizations as blatant as this, but it looks like the "ethics" of Murdoch and Fox "News" are really starting to take root.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntermos View Post
    I'm an environmentalist.

    Does this clearly partisan "article" mean that I hate Gibson guitars, or does it mean that I hate all guitars in a general sense and seek to entrap all manufactures of said evil instrument while in cahoots with "trade protectionists?" Perhaps it means that as an environmentalist, my secret aim to to abolish all use of wood, and wood by-products from the world market, thereby allowing the collapse of the free market and the subsequent enslavement of the freedom loving people of the US by the UN's black-clad helicopter assault forces has taken a step closer to fruition...

    You'd think that the WSJ would refrain from hyperbole and rash, blanket generalizations as blatant as this, but it looks like the "ethics" of Murdoch and Fox "News" are really starting to take root.
    That last statement makes you an idiot. Way to keep up the stereo type of enviromentalists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by huntermos View Post
    Fox "News"
    Pffft fox hasn't reported real news in decades. News is supposed to be informative and bias, American News is at best Tabloid Fodder full of political opinions, inaccuracies, embellishments and purposefully incomplete stories.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supermanofsteel View Post
    Pffft fox hasn't reported real news in decades. News is supposed to be informative and bias, American News is at best Tabloid Fodder full of political opinions, inaccuracies, embellishments and purposefully incomplete stories.
    I would agree. There is no news left in the US. All of it is now tabloid.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinning Lizard View Post
    I would agree. There is no news left in the US. All of it is now tabloid.


    That is the result of "news" programming being driven by ratings and advertisers.

  14. #14
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    Wood is so passe. Carbon fiber is the future.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott O View Post
    Wood is so passe. Carbon fiber is the future.

    I wouldn't play that. One scratch and the thing will explode.

    OT. My head hurts reading these out of order posts. Darn DST!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supermanofsteel View Post
    Actually Gibson is a terrible company. They bought out Garrison Guitars located in Newfoundland Canada and alienated the entire customer base by immediately voiding the Garrison Guitar Warranties. During negotiations they said they would honour the warranties which would eventually run their course as the 5 years wound down but as soon as they closed the deal to purchase Garrison they went back on their word. They had the opportunity to acquire a customer base who was purchasing high end guitars in the $800 to $1500 range and instead decided to screw the works of them over. Realistically the warranty claims would have been a low liability to hold considering the potential for acquiring such a large customer base and the liability would have diminished as peoples warranties expired. Needless to say I will never support the company again, everything I buy from pics, straps, strings etc I do my best to make sure is from other companies now. Gibson is corporate greed at it's finest. I wouldn't piss on em to put out a fire...

    Player for 42+ years here.....



    Seems to me you're being unfair to Gibson. I know about the purchase you speak of and (as there always is) there is more to the story. In a corporate aqusition there are no "I promise to do X". Either it's in the legal paperwork and a condition of sale or it is not, period.

    Garrison could have/should have absolutely stipulated in the sale conditions that all warranties were to be fully honored to the new ownership or no deal. It seems that had Garrison been truely concerened about their existing warranty base customers they could have refused the sale but they chose to proceed. Hmmm, Gibson did what was best for them in order to aquire some manufacturing capqcity and equipment and a price point brand. That's business and Garrison could have always refued to sell if Gibson did not meet thier terms. I see more greed from the Garrison side.

    I also don't agree with you that "high end" guitars are $800-$1500. For a quality accoustic that is pretty much entry level. Additionally, it's not like someone who buys a $1000 guitar is going out to buy a new one every year or two or ten years even. They don't wear out or become obsolete per se, like bikes or cars etc..

    It's funny, last time I bought an accoustic, I closed my eyes and played a several Gibsons, Martins and Taylor models. The Martin won me over with tone and feel even though I thought I really wanted a Taylor. Funny how that happens,
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    I wonder what grand things the human race is capable of if we put all the effort we do into screwing each other over into something worthwhile. The amount of fine print and red tape in this world is slowly causing me to hate society.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinning Lizard View Post
    That last statement makes you an idiot. Way to keep up the stereo type of enviromentalists.
    What type of stereo would that be? Old school Hi-Fi systems or something else? Do they even call them stereos anymore?

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    Quote Originally Posted by huntermos View Post
    What type of stereo would that be? Old school Hi-Fi systems or something else? Do they even call them stereos anymore?
    A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions.

    Thanks for proving the point once again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinning Lizard View Post
    A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions.

    Thanks for proving the point once again.
    Looks like someone is lacking the ability to read sarcasm being that I was making light of your misspelling of the word "stereotype..."

    I'm not one to stereotype people, but clearly you are, and therefore you, by your broad generalizations and apparent disdain of those with opinions that differ from your own, tend to make our society and culture one of venom and hate. Thanks for that (that's sarcasm again, FYI).

    As to why I'm an "idiot" in your view I can only guess. Because I rue the fact that the WSJ, once a publication (prior to its purchase by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, owners of Fox News) with a sober, albeit conservative and serious tone has gone down the sordid road toward becoming another News of the World, spewing unsupported presumptions and implying that "environmentalists" -an incredibly broad term used to describe many people from all walks of life, political views and philosophies- are out to destroy business. Maybe you love Strassel's pointed attacks on anyone with even the remotest concern for environmental issues and feel the need to defend her honor. Maybe it's because you really do believe everything that Faux News tells you and can't stand the criticism, or maybe it's just because I can spell stereotype correctly and you can't... But most likely it's because I readily admit that I am an "environmentalist" and you, apparently harboring grudges against all those varying groups that you hold negative STEREOTYPES of, despise me for it. Let go of the hate, it's not doing you any good.

  21. #21
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    The extreme fringe environmentalists (and since we're talking about a News Corp Company, that's what the term "environmentalist" means...they like to ignore the rest of the general population who hold moderate environment-friendly opinions) are known for taking a well-intended (but poorly written) law and bending it to their whims.

    And that's what this law sounds like...a well-intentioned but poorly-written law. I don't think most people would argue that it's a good idea to avoid illegally-harvested wood and wood from endangered species. But also requiring under our law that the sometimes obscure and poorly-written laws of other countries be followed in the acquisition of wood products? Let those countries enforce their own laws on companies that do business on their soil.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott o View Post
    wood is so passe. Carbon fiber is the future.

    you too can own a guitar that sounds like $hit.:d

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    I like how the WSJ piece conveniently leaves out that Gibson falsified what was in their shipment on the customs forms. Kind of blows the whole "trapped" meme out of the water. Gibson KNEW that what they were getting violated the law and for TWO YEARS took steps to get around that law and got caught.

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    The customs form dispute is at the center of this controversy. Gibson imported the milled lumber logs noted as finished lumber for several years (boards not logs). India agreed the lumber was milled, not logs (illegal to import exotic wood logs into the US). When the wood arrives at the Gibson plant they finish the machining of the boards into whatever they need. This year, US Customs decided since Gibson mills the lumber it's not finished and in violation of the law (brand new interpretation of this <10 year old law). They used a SWAT team to seize the wood at gunpoint. Gibson owner is big Republican supporter...hmmmmm.
    Last edited by pursuiter; 12-01-2011 at 10:57 AM.

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    Gibson imported the milled lumber logs noted as finished lumber for several years (boards not logs)

    The forms declared they were veneer sheets, not milled lumber or logs. They were lying.

    Gibson owner is big Republican supporter...hmmmmm.

    Another falsehood. His last political contribution was $2000 to a Democrat. His only donations in the 08 presidential race were to Huckabee's primary campaign.

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