A Consumer Resource for Independent Artists

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I fear that our federal government is guitarded.

I have been watching the Gibson guitar issue with great interest, collecting the media stories about it and trying to get to the bottom of what is happening.  To make a long story short, the US government has raided Gibson twice (the first time in 2009; no charges have ever been filed) for alleged environmental violations over imported wood.  The problem has virtually nothing to do with the wood being harvested illegally; it is not.  The problem has everything to do with the fact that the wood purchased is only two-thirds of the way finished, as Gibson (naturally) prefers to finish their own fretboards for purposes of quality control.  There is no US law prohibiting this, yet the Feds are claiming that Gibson may be violating an obscure Indian law which they (the US gov't) are interpreting to state that only Indian workers can finish Indian-sourced woods.  The last raid involved similar shipments from Madagascar; according the Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, the Feds have told him that if he will allow foreign labor to finish the wood, "the problem will go away."  Does this make sense in America, particularly given the current unemployment rate and the stagnant economy?  It is also interesting to note that Gibson's major competitors use the same wood without retaliation from the federal government.  The difference is which political party the competitors support.  This smacks of political retribution to me, and I don't like it.

Now here's the real rub: owners of Gibson guitars are now at risk of having their instruments seized at the border if they are unable to provide documentation that sources the wood and bone used to make the instrument.  I don't know about you, but while I can document when I purchased my guitar, and from who, I know that I cannot document the source of every little piece of wood used to build it.  Does this mean that I can no longer travel with my instrument of choice?  Will this ridiculous trend affect owners of other makes and models of instruments, or only those loyal to the Gibson brand?  Are we willing to take the risk of having our legally purchased instruments confiscated by overzealous government agents?  Where does the abuse end?

I remember what it felt like to live in a free country; it was nice while it lasted.  It'll be a great story for the grandkids.


Gibson: Feds Want Guitar Work Done By Foreign Labor
Chris Daniel Interviews Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz
Gibson Guitar CEO Responds to Federal Raid
CEO of Gibson Guitars' Main Competitor is a Huge Democrat Donor; Also Uses Same Wood Without Any Complaint From Feds
CEO of Gibson Guitar a Republican Donor; Democrat Competitor Uses Same Wood - Landmark Report
Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear

Some scathing related satire:
New Scandal at DoJ as Illegal Guitars End Up In Hands of Mexican Drug Lords

Updated 9/10/11: