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SurfGuitar101 Forums » The Shallow End »

Permalink Gibson Guitars Made with Illegal Wood?

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http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/08/31/140090116/why-gibson-guitar-was-raided-by-the-justice-department

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
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The Space Cossacks on Facebook

What gives the UN, the US or any other entity the right to tell a soveriegn nation what they can do with THEIR resources? Someone needs to institute and enforce a ban on idiot bureaucrats!

El Rey Dip, you have said it perfectly ! I can't add anything. Can you imagine being stopped at some border (even ours), and being asked or told about "the fingerboard" on your 1965 "whatever brand guitar" ? Then they'll tell ya', ya either remove the fingerboard or leave it (the whole guitar) with them. According to George Gruhn on NPR, it could amount to something as ridiculous as this. Shame on the idiot bureaucrats !! Argh

If there has been no charges, why do people think they know what this is about? Labor, or natural resource destruction?

SlacktoneDave wrote:

If there has been no charges, why do people think they
know what this is about? Labor, or natural resource
destruction?

If the govt refuses to actually file criminal charges while still seizing and holding Gibson's property (and possibly continuing to raid them every so often, disrupting their business), isn't that a denial of justice? Of course none of us know exactly what's going on, but we're going off the news reports, and there are more of them with more revealing information - and for many of us it looks quite outrageous. You're not bothered by anything going on here, Dave?

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 18:19:52

Whether there have been charges or not isn't the point right now. It's the fact that Gibson is left on pins & needles wondering when they'll get raided again and have to shut down plants again, losing more money. And the feds still haven't returned the material they confiscated in the last raid. There are very few guitars built in the US anymore, comparatively speaking. It's as if they want to push even more manufacturing offshore

Shawn Martin
http://www.drummerman.net
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Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 19:41:17

If they take Gibson to trial the government runs the risk of being embarrased, like after John DeLorean was aquitted by the jury on the grounds that the government had acted with gross misconduct. If they never take Gibson to trial, the government, with endlessly deep pockets (ours), can drain Gibson dry and never have to prove anything. It's really a form of extortion, and Gibson is being used to warn every other wood-products manufacturer to do whatever the government tells them, or else.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

They are saying the government that is ,that the wood is not to be "worked"
on by the American Gibson factory workers . So the workers from India
should/could do all the of the wood working and leave the assembly to the
Gibson Company is the way I understand it .
Just another ploy to shut down an American Company and have it sent
overseas to take more jobs from Americans where it can be made cheaper by
workers who are payed crap wages and bring a once great product down
to a substandard level .
They are using this law for beta testing to see how far they can go with
it such as Funiture and other wood product , but the ultimate goal is for
confiscations of guns . That is one way to get around the second ammendment
law a loophole so to speak .

Johnny Rocket
The Monterreys !
http://www.youtube.com/user/THEMONTERREYS?feature=mhum

IvanP wrote:

SlacktoneDave wrote:

If there has been no charges, why do people think
they
know what this is about? Labor, or natural resource
destruction?

If the govt refuses to actually file criminal charges
while still seizing and holding Gibson's property (and
possibly continuing to raid them every so often,
disrupting their business), isn't that a denial of
justice? Of course none of us know exactly what's
going on, but we're going off the news reports, and
there are more of them with more revealing information
- and for many of us it looks quite outrageous. You're
not bothered by anything going on here, Dave?

Of course I'm bothered by it. I want to know what the charges are, and evidence is before I attempt to shoe-horn in every irrelevant reactionary comment into the discussion. Not from you, necessarily, but, internet babble, blah, blah.

I support unconditionally private property rights, and (http://www.ij.org/) who protect property owners from an overly-zealous government. I love Brazilian Rosewood, and sweat over it frequently. But, take a look an a satellite view of Madagascar showing the deforestation. Not acceptable.

When you allow a market to exist for Ivory, Tortoise shell, Brazilian Rosewood, etc., the "invisible Hand" will do it's work better than any army. That's the thinking behind the creation, and signing of these treaties. IMHA

It's also old news to the owners of old instruments that it's very risky to take them over International borders. Check: Cites treaty.

IvanP wrote:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/08/31/140090116/why-gibson-guitar-was-raided-by-the-justice-department

Kinda sounds like what I brought up. Unconstitutional govt. takeover in Madagascar lead to the possibility of some natural resource poaching. I guess we {USA} are signatories to International treaties that sometimes lead to enforcement actions. It seems to be an ongoing, active case which began in 2009.

To learn about what seems to have been the trigger point...

read this:

http://www.worldzootoday.com/2009/10/09/madagascar-forests-face-destruction/

Last edited: Aug 31, 2011 23:34:36

The Gov. can have all the Gibsons they want. Just stay away from our Fender Jags! Doh!

"The future isn't what it used to be".

SlacktoneDave wrote:

Of course I'm bothered by it. I want to know what the
charges are, and evidence is before I attempt to
shoe-horn in every irrelevant reactionary comment into
the discussion. Not from you, necessarily, but,
internet babble, blah, blah.

Fair enough, Dave. I do hope that the govt files charges soon, and gives Gibson its chance in court, which seems to be what they want. I agree that these issues are usually much more complex than it may appear at first. But if Gibson's claims are at all truthful, then we may in fact have abuse of power by govt. It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.

When you allow a market to exist for Ivory, Tortoise
shell, Brazilian Rosewood, etc., the "invisible Hand"
will do it's work better than any army. That's the
thinking behind the creation, and signing of these
treaties. IMHA

Well, you're probably right about tortoiseshell and Brazilian rosewood, but I don't think you're right about ivory. Economists have done a lot of theoretical and empirical/historical work on this issue, and have found that as long as you have well-established property rights over elephants (which multiple countries in Africa have done), allowing those owners to benefit from elephants (hunting and trade) will in fact rapidly increase elephant populations. The problems with tortoises is that's almost impossible to create property owners over them, which is why they will fall prey to the so-called 'tragedy of the commons'. It's not really Adam Smith's Invisible Hand at work if there's no property over the resources being exploited. As far Brazilian rosewood, not knowing a lot about this issue I would venture a guess that the problem is the unwillingness of the Brazilian govt to grant property rights in the Amazon jungle that's leading to deforestation. I do remember reading about it some years ago, and the way that things have been happening there is that the govt 'owns' the land but gives permits to private companies to exploit the land. In that case these companies have no incentive to worry about the future viability of that resource so they just clear-cut everything. These permits seem to be driven heavily by corruption in the govt and the close ties between certain developers and govt officials. But my understanding is also that banning trade in endangered wood in Brazil has done very little to stop deforestation, it all just goes on the black market. Declaring certain resources endangered may make us feel good about these things, but it is rarely effective in protecting the environment, especially in countries that have little tradition of the rule of law and obeying laws.

Here's what I posted in a related thread regarding these issues:

if you look at the facts in Africa, elephant populations in several countries have rebounded quite dramatically. They are all countries that instead of declaring elephants an endangered species have instead granted property rights over elephants to local villages - countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and several others. I prefer to remain non-political on SG101, this is not the right place to discuss political issues, but the issue of elephant preservation is not so much political as it is one of what has actually worked - and the market approach has worked unbelievably well to ensure the continued survival of elephants (much more effectively than in African countries that have simply declared them endangered, and have relied on the govt to protect them, such as Kenya).

A quick internet search has found this short article about this issue. A few choice quotes:

"The numbers attest to the program’s success. Ten years after the program began, wildlife populations had increased by 50 percent. By 2003, elephant numbers had doubled from 4,000 to 8,000. The gains have not just been for wildlife, however. Between 1989 and 2001, CAMPFIRE generated more than $20 million in direct income, the vast majority of which came from hunting. During that period, the program benefitted an estimated 90,000 households and had a total economic impact of $100 million.

The results go beyond the CAMPFIRE areas. Between 1989 and 2005, Zimbabwe’s total elephant population more than doubled from 37,000 to 85,000, with half living outside of national parks. Today, some put the number as high as 100,000, even with trophy hunters such as Parsons around. All of this has occurred with an economy in shambles, regime uncertainty, and mounting socio-political challenges.

Throughout southern Africa, hunting and wildlife-related tourism have spurred private sector investment in wildlife conservation. The region is now home to more than 9,000 private game ranches, 1,100 privately managed nature reserves, and over 400 conservancies. In Namibia, which allows hunting, more than 80 percent of all large wild mammals live on private and community lands, and those populations have increased by 70 percent in recent years. In these regions where wildlife pays its way, habitat is conserved and wildlife populations thrive."

Tying this to the above issue, I believe the above numbers show that we could have international ivory trade in a way that would ensure not only that African elephants survive but even thrive.

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

Last edited: Sep 01, 2011 09:03:55

But wait, there's more.

In an interview with KMJ AM’s “The Chris Daniel Show,” Juszkiewicz revealed some startling information.

CHRIS DANIEL: Mr. Juszkiewicz, did an agent of the US government suggest to you that your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of American labor?

HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that in a pleading.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Here's today's WSJ story about this. It seems to be getting increased attention.

The Wall Street Journal
LAW
SEPTEMBER 1, 2011

Gibson Guitar Wails on Federal Raid Over Wood
By JAMES R. HAGERTY and KRIS MAHER

Gibson Guitar Corp., a big user of ebony and other scarce woods, for years has allied itself with Greenpeace and other environmental groups to show it was serious about preserving forests.

That didn't stop the Nashville-based company, whose guitars are used by such musicians as B.B. King and Angus Young of AC/DC, from running afoul of U.S. authorities over allegedly illegal imports of wood. Though no charges have been filed, Gibson factories have been raided twice, most recently last week, by federal agents who say ebony exported from India to Gibson was "fraudulently" labeled to conceal a contravention of Indian export law.

Henry Juszkiewicz, chief executive officer of the closely held company, said in an interview that a broker probably made a mistake in labeling the goods but that the sale was legal and approved by Indian authorities.

Gibson's predicament, which raises concerns for musical instrument makers and other importers of wood, illustrates the pitfalls of complying with U.S. law while dealing with middlemen in faraway countries whose legal systems can be murky.

The law ensnaring Gibson is the Lacey Act of 1900, originally passed to regulate trade in bird feathers used for hats and amended in 2008 to cover wood and other plant products. It requires companies to make detailed disclosures about wood imports and bars the purchase of goods exported in violation of a foreign country's laws.

Leonard Krause, a consultant in Eugene, Ore., who advises companies on complying with the Lacey Act, is telling clients they should hire lawyers in countries where they obtain products. "How many people know the statutes in India?" Mr. Krause said. "The net effect is that it raises everybody's cost of doing business."

Federal agents first raided Gibson factories in November 2009 and were back again Aug. 24, seizing guitars, wood and electronic records. Gene Nix, a wood product engineer at Gibson, was questioned by agents after the first raid and told he could face five years in jail.

"Can you imagine a federal agent saying, 'You're going to jail for five years' and what you do is sort wood in the factory?" said Mr. Juszkiewicz, recounting the incident. "I think that's way over the top." Gibson employees, he said, are being "treated like drug criminals."

Mr. Nix hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing. He couldn't be reached for comment.

A Justice Department spokesman declined comment. While Justice Department officials pursue what they say is a possible criminal case against Gibson, they and the company are battling in federal district court in Nashville over whether materials seized in the 2009 raid should be returned to Gibson. That civil fight provides indications of the case the government is trying to make against Gibson.

Mr. Nix went to Madagascar in June 2008 on a trip organized by environmental groups to talk to local officials about selling responsibly harvested wood to makers of musical instruments. Afterward, in emails later seized by the government, he referred to "widespread corruption and theft of valuable woods" and the possibility of buying ebony and rosewood from Madagascar on "the grey market."

In a June 4 court filing, Jerry Martin, U.S. Attorney for central Tennessee, quoted the emails, and said "Nix knew that the grey market meant purchasing contraband."

Gibson has denied the allegation and said Mr. Nix's emails were quoted out of context.

The government has focused on a March 2009 shipment of ebony from Madagascar intended for guitar fingerboards. Madagascar law bars the export of certain unfinished wood products, according to both Gibson and the government. Gibson says the ebony had been cut into pieces and that local officials approved the export as a legal sale of finished goods.

U.S. officials described the wood as "sawn timber" and said Madagascar officials were "defrauded" by a local exporter about the nature of the product.

Gibson says the government is trying to "second guess" the Madagascar government. "The U.S. government's startling position smacks of something from an Orwell novel," Gibson said in a July 15 court filing in federal district court in Nashville.

After the 2009 raid, Gibson stopped buying wood from Madagascar. Gibson continued to use suppliers in India for ebony and rosewood.

As for last week's raid, the government said it had evidence that Indian ebony was "fraudulently" labeled in an attempt to evade an Indian ban on exports of unfinished wood.

"It is very possible that a broker made the mistake in filling out a form," Mr. Juszkiewicz said. Gibson says the ebony was partially finished for use as fingerboards and that Indian officials have endorsed such exports as legal. A spokesman for India's commerce ministry had no immediate comment.

After the 2009 raid, Mr. Juszkiewicz resigned from the board of the Rainforest Alliance, which seeks to preserve tropical forests. He said he didn't want to tar the nonprofit with bad publicity. A Rainforest Alliance spokeswoman said he wasn't pressured to step down, and the group continues to praise Gibson's efforts to promote responsible harvesting of wood.

Scott Paul, a Greenpeace official in New York responsible for forestry issues, said Gibson for years has done "great work" to promote better forestry practices. The question, he said, is whether Gibson did everything possible to avoid buying wood from dubious sources. "We have no idea," he said.
—Amol Sharma contributed to this article.

Write to James R. Hagerty at bob.hagerty@wsj.com and Kris Maher at kris.maher@wsj.com

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

Looks like the value of my Les Paul just went up.

"The future isn't what it used to be".

How many of ya still think the United States of America is a free society?

(Moderator note: Please don't advocate the death of anyone on this website. Thank you.)

the U.S. constitution, and amendments, are not even worth the paper they're written on.

Fast Cars & Loud Guitars!

Last edited: Sep 01, 2011 11:10:20

The liberal perspective on this entire case:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2011/09/gibson-ceo-embraces-his-nra-moment/41996/

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
The Space Cossacks on Facebook

Sounds more like an issue of labor to me rather that one of conservation (unless the wood itself was obtained illegally). The way I'm reading it, the wood itself can be legally obtained, it just must be in the form of a finished product--in this case, fingerboard veneer. It tells me the governments of those countries are just as concerned about the employment of their citizens as they are the wood.

What bothers me about Gibson's actions is that it exhibits a consciousness of guilt--the "mis labeling" of the shipment. Was it just a mistake--or did Gibson know what they were doing, and that it would never pass customs otherwise?

Of course, I'm also bothered by (as Gibson describes it) an Orwellian government, with seemingly unlimited power to swoop in, seize property and livelihood, and to threaten without charges.

"And then... the last reverb crashed and summer ended, poof." Ferenc Dobronyi

OK, I'm going to chime in here because I see some of the discussion getting pretty ridiculous. I may be in the minority, judging by the drum beating and horn-blowing posts here as well as the politically motivated "sources" being served as evidence. However, due to the incredibly loose (and almost non-existent) regulations on big businesses in the United States, businesses have pretty much had free reign to do whatever they please. Left to their own devices, they've proven over and over again that they'll go to drastic means to increase their profits for their shareholders and CEOs as they claw their way to the top. Regardless of what your reasoning is, SOMETHING had to elicit this sort of response from the government. We can speculate and cry foul all we want, but we DON'T know the whole story and it is unlikely we EVER will in the near future. Sure, we'll get the Wall Street Journal's (Rupert Murdoch owned) incredibly pro-business slant on things to fire us up but we really have NO IDEA about the big picture. We only get the opinions of those who yell the loudest.

So, instead of talking about raising arms against the "tyranical" government, take a look at ourselves and see how we, as consumers, fit into the whole picture. Fear-mongering only goes so far. Finding out what we can do about the problems we're facing goes a lot further. Gibson is a big business and their interests are for their business. I really don't think they give a rat's ass about anything but making money off of us and their employees' hard labor. After all, they, like many "American" businesses left their employees somewhere (Michigan in Gibson's case) in the dust all in the name of profit. In my opinion, we have to stop looking at things from the MBA perspective because businesses aren't out for the interest of America or Americans. Their loyalty is to the almighty dollar and themselves. I'm anxious to see how this pans out and I'll reserve my judgement until I can find out for myself what's going on. However, with Gibson's history...I remain critical.

So, flame away...I'm just glad to get that off my chest.

Matt "tha Kat" Lentz
Otto and the Ottomans: 2014-
The Coconauts surf band: 2009-2014
www.theamazingcoconauts.com
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The Surfside IV: 2002-2005, 2008-2009
the Del-Vamps: 1992-1999, 2006-2007
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Ivan - I'm surprised you've not pulled in these articles too. Source: The Economist. Wink

First Article (will be in next week's print copy):
http://www.economist.com/node/21528276

Lots of regurgitation, but interesting close:

"Guitarists now worry that every time they cross a state border with their instrument, they will have to carry sheaves of documents proving that every part of it was legally sourced. Edward Grace, the deputy chief of the FWS’s office of law enforcement, says this fear is misplaced: “As a matter of longstanding practice,” he says, “investigators focus not on unknowing end consumers but on knowing actors transacting in larger volumes of product.” But Americans have been jailed for such things as importing lobsters in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes, in violation of a Honduran rule that Honduras no longer enforces. Small wonder pluckers are nervous."

"Americans jailed for importing lobsters in plastic bags..." Really?

...apparently so. They also cite it in a July 2010 article:
http://www.economist.com/node/16640389

IN 2000 four Americans were charged with importing lobster tails in plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes, in violation of a Honduran regulation that Honduras no longer enforces. They had fallen foul of the Lacey Act, which bars Americans from breaking foreign rules when hunting or fishing. The original intent was to prevent Americans from, say, poaching elephants in Kenya. But it has been interpreted to mean that they must abide by every footling wildlife regulation on Earth. The lobstermen had no idea they were breaking the law. Yet three of them got eight years apiece. Two are still in jail.

... methinks this maybe isn't so much about who processes the wood. more about who possesses it and when/where/how did they get it.

fady

IvanP wrote:

The liberal perspective on this entire case:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2011/09/gibson-ceo-embraces-his-nra-moment/41996/

I'm a little surpised by your use of this word. Your text to link here...

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