Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Law, The United States | Tags: Needless OverCriminalization, Overregulation, The Destructive Obama Administration
This video was made back in October of last year, when Henry Juszkiewicz , CEO of Gibson Guitar Company testified before Congress. Gibson Guitars has been accused by the Obama Administration of running afoul of the Lacey Ace — one of the oldest U.S. environmental regulations. Gibson’s violations were deemed so severe that armed federal marshals entered its facilities in Nashville and Memphis in August 2011 and seized millions of dollars worth of guitars, which the government alleges may have been constructed of wood illegally harvested in Madagascar and India.
Under the Lacey Act, it is a federal offense “to import fish, wildlife or plants” in violation of any foreign law.” Congress passed the law in 1900 to protect states against poachers who fled with their goods to another state. It thus runs afoul of fundamental tenets of Anglo-American common law: that “men of common intelligence” must be able to understand what a law means. Good luck with that.
It has been nine months since the Gibson raid, and as yet they have not been charged with anything. Gibson was set up. The story here, according to Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal says:
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.
The drive to expand the Lacey Act was headed by” a murky British green outfit called tje Environmental Investigation Agency. The EIA is anti-logging, and 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 US. and Europe where green groups have more influence over rules.”
Gibson has been trapped, as intended. The company is not accused of importing banned wood. The ebony it bought for frets 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 that the wood Gibson imported wasn’t finished enough.”
If you wondered why more jobs are not being created in our economy, you only have to look at Gibson, to see why businessmen might be scared and huddling down to wait Obama out. And Gibson is not alone. There are other companies suffering under the loony expansion of the Lacey Act. But there are Congressmen trying to amend the Lacey Act to see that criminal enforcement of the Lacey Act is unnecessary, and leads to miscarriages of justice. Laws should be clear so that people can understand what they must do to follow it.
The solution, of course is deregulation. According to Iain Murray of CEI , if deregulation were implemented correctly, it would provide an almost cost-free stimulus of a trillion dollars or more. According to the Small business Administration, the regulatory burden on our economy is a staggering $1.74 trillion annually. The Obama administration is in full denial, and Cass Sunstein, who heads up the “Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, calls it an “urban myth.”
In Wayne Crews annual report on the growth of the regulatory state Ten Thousand Commandments, notes that the number of pages in the Federal Register has grown from 67,000 to 81,405. Each page delineates a rule that imposes costs on businesses while creating more jobs for bureaucrats. The costs of compliance with regulations average $10,585 per employee. No wonder small businesses, th e usual engine of growth in the economy, have stalled. Over 60 percent of small businesses have no plans to hire in the next year.
Obama’s standard statement is “Private sector employment rose by 130,000 jobs in April. The economy has added private sector jobs for 26 straight months for a total of more than 4,25 million jobs over that period.” Those 130,000 jobs don’t sound like such a big deal when you realize that the economy would h ave to create 125,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth. But Mr. Obama has some trouble with math.