The Gibson Guitar Company gives the federal government the finger.


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The Gibson Guitar Company gives the federal government the finger.

A couple of years ago, the Feds raided the Gibson factory here in Music City, SWAT-team style, and shut the whole company down, allegedly for possessing illegally imported wood. From what I gather, it had mostly to do with how the shipping containers were labeled. Anyway, it didn’t merit a commando operation.

It was a disproportionate action on dubious grounds. Gibson later settled for $300,000. But not until after it had already lost far more than that by virtue of being forced to shut down operations.

This week Gibson has announced the “Government Series” of guitars, to celebrate the end of its tussle with the eager enforcers of the U.S. Customs Department. It’s a series of guitars made, purportedly, with the very same wood that was seized by the United States government, which was later returned at the end of the fiasco.

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13 comments

  • PeterF

    This all stems from the environmental activists trying to prevent clearcutting of “old growth” “rainforests”. (What used to be called the jungle). While this may be a noble cause because the Central and South American hellholes have atrocious records when it comes to sustainable resource use, the simple act of making a product unattainable through legal means simple drives the price up in the black market because of the immutable law of supply and demand. A far more effective method conserving rare products is to allow entrepreneurs to make a profit on the harvest of said products, as is the case with the black rhino hunting in (Nigeria?) where the Rhino population is increasing as compared to the dissappearing Rhino population in South Africa where the Rhinos are “protected”. “If it pays, It stays”. When the government owns something, nobody owns it, so nobody is personally invested in protecting it.
    I saw a documentary once on helicopter logging. This outfit selected only the most valuable trees near the end of their lives. It was a very lucrative venture and the most sustainable logging operation I’ve ever seen. They don’t cut any trees they don’t need to build roads to the trees they want. But still the environmentalists complained.
    The most foolish statement I’ve ever heard from an environmentalist was “This old growth forest has been around since the last ice age and we want to ensure that it stays around until the next one!” For someone claiming to take the long view they don’t complete the thought.
    When the next ice age occurs, that old growth forest will be scraped down to the bedrock, nullifying all of their efforts, resulting in a total waste of their existence…

  • Cotour

    Sorry, but the Chinese and Obama have cancelled supply and demand, it no longer apply’s and is no longer relevant. Nice try.

  • Jwing

    Dittos…to that.
    Did ya’ ever curse having to cut your lawn every weekend in that hot sweltering summer sun because your grass grows so darn quickly? Well, multiply that growth factor by about 1000% in the tropical jungle (aka “rainforest”). The jungle grows back, almost exponentially, to reclaim even slash and burn logging techniques. Any modicum of sensible reforesting technology by reputable businesses will solve the concerns of clear cutting, erosion and habitat destruction that the greenies love to spew.
    Thank you Gibson, makers of the finest 5-string banjos in the world.
    JWing, a banjo pickin, non-dope smoking conservative bluegrass lover and lover of all things natural without loosing my mind and my common sense. Call me a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist.

  • joe

    I don’t think this had anything to do with sustainable or protected, this had to do with Gibson donated to the wrong party.

  • Tom Billings

    The wrong Party, indeed.

    It turns out that the wood in question was harvested from *tree*plantations* in India, and was not wild protected wood. Indeed, the Indian government *told* the US early on in the case that *their* regulations on protecting these species were not broken, but the Federal Bureaucracy, needing little apparent encouragement from the WH, decided *they* were the proper interpreters of India’s laws. The reason that is relevant is that the Lacey Act, under which authority the raids were made, forbids the use of materials in the US whose sale is illegal elsewhere in the world, …as the wild wood usage, unprocessed, is to export from India.

    It is notable that Gibson’s major competitor, and an obsequious donator to the Democratic Party, Fender, was using the same species of wood, from the same sources, for the same purposes, and was never even questioned. This pattern is an obvious precursor to the pattern we have seen for the last 2 years in the IRS attitudes towards non-progressive non-profits that dare to speak out against progressive political interests. A pattern of behavior of which it is notable that it is persisting right up to the present. They are brazenly continuing to do what they did in 2012 at the IRS.

  • Scott

    Maybe if Gibson had promised to string all their production instruments for lefties they’d have been PC.

  • PeterF

    I was going to mention this in my original comment, but my favorite hobby-horse rant about well-intentioned useful idiots who conflate “feelings” with actual thinking was getting a little long. The administration’s use of official government resources to suppress opposition is absolutely another of a long string of impeachable offenses. But where is the “opposition” leadership? Attacking the people who got them elected in 2010. Thats where!

  • Jwing

    Speaking as a true minority, we left-handers comprising only 7% of the population, the political “Lefties” are never in their right mind and give us a bad hand.

  • Orion314

    Good for Gibson, unfortunately , I think the USG believes it “CANNOT POSSIBLY” go to far….
    What will it take for them to see the error of their ways?

  • Joe

    Is this room101 stuff we are talking about

  • Cotour

    “They” do not SEE any “error in their ways”. It is the peoples responsibility to redirect the country through pressuring their representatives and making them pay with relieving them of the power that they have been temporarily granted access to if their representatives choose to ignore them. The government will and can take as much of the peoples freedoms as the people allow, that is the nature of all government, not just this government.

    So waiting around for the government to realize, “hey, have we gone too far?” is wrong minded. There is no self regulating limit mechanism on the entity government. That is why there are counter balances to the power in our government, its up to Congress and the Senate, the Judicial system and the president to counter balance each other so we do not get the run away train that we find ourselves on as of late. It seems to have become government for governments sake and the people’s concerns are a secondary consideration. (and no, the president does not get to do what ever he wants to do because HE says “because its the right thing to do”. What BS)

    “what will it take for them to see the error of their ways?” (what a question, my head is shaking in disbelief at the question)

    What will it take? The people replacing them all with proper, Constitutionally based (the American Constitution) philosophies. Which by the way does not mean that we go back 235 years to live in colonial America.

  • Phill O

    Gibson was our recent purchase of a guitar. Loved the tone compared to Martin. Taylor was a close second.

  • wayne

    Phill-
    Good stuff!

    Heritage Guitar Co. of Kalamazoo, MI
    2011
    https://youtu.be/aWn2FIkBwb8
    3:23

    Tour of the Heritage Guitar Company of Kalamazoo, MI. Founded by former Gibson Guitar makers when the company moved to Nashville. (mid 80’s)

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