Feb 15, 2019

Gibson’s government blues

Jake Severns
Collegian File Photo

The federal government obviously has a lot of power, but does it ever abuse power by making examples of some companies as a means to intimidate? The federal raid on Gibson Guitar factories is the most recent example.

On Aug. 24, armed federal agents raided the iconic Gibson Guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville without warning, under the pretence that Gibson did not comply with an Indian trade law.

“The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.,” Gibson’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said, “has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.”

The raid and seizure of approximately $500,000 worth of Indian wood, electronic files and guitars shut down production and sent workers home for the day.

The government has yet to return the confiscated items and has not yet filed any criminal charges. Gibson is now suing the government to have the items returned.

Gibson is adamant that all the necessary documentation is already in the hands of the government to show that the wood was obtained legally.

The wood seized by the government also complies with Forest Stewardship Council standards. FSC standards require that the wood must be legally harvested and must not be harvested in a way that violates traditional and civil rights. Gibson also supports Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to ensure sustainable methods of maintaining wood used in its guitars.

This whole situation is an absolute joke. I keep thinking that there has to be some other reason for such force to be taken against Gibson.

This is a legendary American brand that is famous around the world for its amazing guitars and is possibly the most famous guitar brand in history.

What a shame it is for this company to be dealing with such nonsense after withstanding so many trials since it was established in 1894.

If Gibson was actually in the wrong, I would understand, but too many things just don’t add up. Like the fact that Gibson was also raided in 2009 when more guitars and wood were seized. The government still hasn’t returned those items or filed charges for that case.

How about this: One of Gibson’s main competitors uses the same wood on its guitars that are built in the U.S. but nothing of its has been seized. Why might that be?

It is interesting to know that Gibson supported a Republican candidate and the competitor supported a Democrat. Obviously, I can’t be positive this is the reason for all of this, but it does make a lot of sense.

I’m not making a point that says Republicans are better than Democrats. I would suggest the same thing if the roles were reversed. The point I am making is about abuse of power, and I don’t care who is doing it, it’s wrong.

Why damage a great American company that hasn’t even been charged with a crime and one that hired nearly 600 new employees during the recession?

With all of the current turmoil overseas and at home, our government should stop bullying good businesses and concentrate on more pressing problems.

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