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fmm
Advanced Member
Username: fmm

Post Number: 322
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 6:37 am:   Edit Post

Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904787404576530520471223268.html#articleTabs%3Darticle
terryc
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 1679
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 6:49 am:   Edit Post

So where does Alembic fit in here, I mean every bass & guitar is made from the most exotic woods around...are they due for a call from the federal dept??
Personally although I am an advocate of preservation and re cycling this does seem overkill and hypocrisy as the USA goverment do not recognise global warming is a result of CO2 emissions from the millions of cars there is in the USA
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1028
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 8:36 am:   Edit Post

This was a raid by the Fisheries and Wildlife Service, a completely different agency than that which manages car emissions (The EPA). It's congress who determines the extent to which the EPA can manage such concerns, and that comes down to who gets elected. (Not to get too political here, just saying the voters can influence that choice.)

The documentation required sounds pretty excessive to me. I can produce documents to show when my guitar was built, but there's no way I can show the provenance for the 5 different types of wood that were used in it. I don't want to see destructive logging practices, but it certainly discourages travel with high quality instruments.
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 640
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 10:09 am:   Edit Post

Some things just go too far....
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 295
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 3:38 pm:   Edit Post

After they finish taking our guns then they will come after our guitars & basses!
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 10357
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 4:57 pm:   Edit Post

Some of the comments in this thread are straying too close to the restriction on politics in the posting guidelines. Please keep the posting guidelines in mind.
lidon2001
Senior Member
Username: lidon2001

Post Number: 470
Registered: 4-2005
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 5:00 pm:   Edit Post

Gibson's response states the reason they were raided was that the DOJ, or whoever, decided to start interpreting a foreign country's law, India, and came to the conclusion that Gibson was in violation of the DOJ's, or whoever's, interpretation of that foreign country's law. India found no such violation, else they would not have allowed Gibson to buy and ship the wood out.

I hope that clears things up.

www.gibson.com

Edit to add link for Gibson's Response. No comment intended (sorry Dave!)


(Message edited by lidon2001 on August 26, 2011)
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 296
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Friday, August 26, 2011 - 5:28 pm:   Edit Post

I couldn't get your link to open, so try this one - http://www.gibson.com/absolutenm/templates/FeatureTemplatePressRelease.aspx?articleid=1340&zoneid=6
tubeperson
Advanced Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 206
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 2:16 pm:   Edit Post

Not only does it potentially concern Alembic, but what about each of us that may hold instruments from a prior era, how do we validate the sourcing of the woods used in contruction of our axes? This seems to be too easy a grab for any beaurocracy. After all they are confiscating the stuff! We may not love Gibson i.e (I do own a Les Paul after all) but where does it stop? And why such selective enforcement? Is Spector next if Stu Spector has an old piece of brazilian rosewood, or even if he reclaims an old piece of same? I think we all should be concerned about this. I understand the forum wants to keep volatile polical views to a minimum, but curtailing our concern and our ability to speak out against this here would be a very big mistake. Don't Tread on Me may mean more now than ever before.
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 306
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 2:58 pm:   Edit Post

Right On Steve! I don't think there is a person on this forum who would side with the government on this issue, regardless of which party you support!
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 10359
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 7:10 pm:   Edit Post

[moderator's edit: text deleted for political content in violation of posting guidelines]

(Message edited by davehouck on September 01, 2011)
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 646
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 7:52 am:   Edit Post

That's "not talking about politics"? ;)

I think there's one thing you're missing in this case...I almost don't want to mention it, but just for your understanding as well as everyone else's...

It doesn't appear to be a question of illegally harvesting wood, but rather the way the wood has been processed. Basically, India has rules stating that Indian workers must "treat" the wood in some way before it's exported; they aren't just supposed to ship raw lumber. In other words, the Indian government is trying to preserve labor rights for their citizens.

I think this has a lot to do with why this story is resonating with the public. The Indian government is doing what the American government SHOULD be doing, which is trying to protect its workers. With American unemployment the way that it is, there's a certain irony in the US siding with a foreign government to preserve the rights of their workers at the expense of American labor; and this irony is compounded by the degree to which American jobs have been outsourced to -- guess where? -- India.

Of course, this general process predates the current American government, but it doesn't seem to have improved in the last three years.

That's all.
pas
Advanced Member
Username: pas

Post Number: 265
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 7:25 am:   Edit Post

Dave,

You may be the moderator, but your previous post is frankly beyond the pale...a steaming pile of leftist tripe. Apparently, much like the federal government, the policies you espouse - not talking politics in this forum - apply only to those ruled and regulated by the authorities, ie: yourself in this instance. Hypocrite.

And while we're at it, I quote from your paragraph #7: "And, for what it's worth, since it's been raised, I absolutely support the government on this issue." If you would be so kind Dave, please point out exactly where anyone solicited your support or opposition to the government on this issue. Oh, that's right...it's your perogative to get on the soapbox and advocate at will. I guess advocates for the redistribution of wealth ("social justice") and specious science ("environmental justice") don't need to adhere to the rules they advocate for the proletariat.

All Alembicians are equal...but some are more equal than others, eh?
811952
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 2001
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 7:52 am:   Edit Post

I would suggest that as long as Dave's moderation is agreeable to Susan, Mica, Ron and company, that's really all that matters. I'm not paying to use this site and there are no banner ads..

It's a fact that we are quite a mixed bag of nuts and ideologies here. That it is irrelevant to our discussions of music and instruments is why this forum is such a nice little island among the vitriol of the internet. I may or may not heartily disagree with someone about politics here, so why even go there when we've got so much that we love in common?

Peace out! ;)

John
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1036
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 8:13 am:   Edit Post

Dave is human like the rest of us. I think he does a pretty damn good job of keeping things civil and on track, but just like the rest of us he isn't perfect. He may have said a bit much about his views (which even he acknowledged in that post), but I believe he acted with the best intentions in a situation that is very emotionally charged for most of us. I have many friends from the opposite end of the spectrum of my own political views. I may disagree with them, but it doesn't mean that we can't speak civilly. After all, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
ajdover
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 958
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 8:30 am:   Edit Post

Here's my take on all of this:

We have unemployment at 9.1%; gas prices around $4.00 in some places; a $16 trillion national debt; a GDP of 1% in the last quarter; and a lot of folks that have quit looking for work. In short, the situation is not good for a lot of folks. And what does the government do? They raid a guitar factory. I mean, don't we have other things to worry about that are more important? It doesn't matter what side you're on, either. There are far more pressing problems facing this country than whether Gibson used allegedly "illegal" wood in their guitars if you ask me.

For the record, I am a registered Republican. And that's not political - just stating a verifiable fact.

Alan
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1037
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 8:53 am:   Edit Post

My opinion is that the law is the law, and we don't stop enforcing it just because times are tough. Sure, it would be much cheaper for factories to dump their hazardous waste into our rivers than manage it properly, just like it would be easier for me to lie on my taxes. There are ways to change the regulations within the political process, but simply disregarding them is not an option.
ajdover
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 959
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:16 am:   Edit Post

The point of my post is that it seems that there is no one in Washington setting priorities if the Gibson factory raid is any example. Of course we have to observe the law, but I think we've seen how well the "political process" works in recent days (look at the debt debate - it took everyone looking into the abyss at the same time before anything got done).

I served 20 years in the military. On a rifle range, one is taught to shoot at the closest target first, because it is the most immediate threat. Targets are positioned from 50 meters out to 300 meters. Using this analogy, those in Washington should be focused on the 50 meter target (jobs, economy) rather than the 300 meter target (in this case, the Gibson factory). It's all a matter of priorities IMHO, and to me, the Gibson factory and the wood they use doesn't even approach the definition of priority.
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1038
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:35 am:   Edit Post

". . . it took everyone looking into the abyss at the same time before anything got done." I agree, partisan politics is stifling the recovery process. We all need to learn to work together and recognize that we each seek a similar goal, and even if our methods differ, we do better to learn from each other than fight amongst ourselves.

However, in this instance I doubt that that the Fisheries and Wildlife agency sought direction from any external entity when they made the decision to raid the Gibson factory. It seems as unlikely as a street cop asking the mayor before he writes a speeding ticket. Federal regulatory agencies are given a set of rules to enforce, and that is what they do. The Lacey Act has been in effect since 1900 after all, was signed into law by a Republican, and has survived under administrations from both ends of the spectrum.
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 308
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:39 am:   Edit Post

It's my understanding that this wasn't even an American law that was allegedly broken, it was the USA's interpretation of an Indian law they thought was broken. Apparently India did not come to the same conclusion regarding their law.
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1039
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:46 am:   Edit Post

Yeah Rusty, that kind of has me scratching my head as well. Maybe the Indian customs agents who inspected that shipment made a mistake, but the USA has trade agreements with the Indian government that it is obligated to observe. Just speculation on my part, but not impossible to imagine given the convolution of regulations one encounters when dealing with the laws of two separate governments.
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 309
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:46 am:   Edit Post

"The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. 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 Departmentís 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."
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1040
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:49 am:   Edit Post

It sounds to me like someone needs to start an Ebony and Rosewood plantation in the tropical zones of the US. :-)
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 310
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:53 am:   Edit Post

I think the original intent of this posting was not to start a government bashing discussion, but to alert each of us to the possibility that the exotic woods in our instruments could fall under this same scenario. Hopefully that will never be the case as I'm sure all the fine folks at Alembic do everything above board & dot all their "I's" & cross all their "T's" so that all the wood they use is legal & proper.
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 311
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:55 am:   Edit Post

You might be on to something Kevin! That would help with the unemployment as well as any improper harvesting or finishing of the wood!
mario_farufyno
Senior Member
Username: mario_farufyno

Post Number: 726
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 9:56 am:   Edit Post

Short cuts and fast tracks in politics always means breaking rules and threat democracy. I know because I'm brazilian and we suffered 20 years of military dictatorship (and keep dealing with its consequences till today). May be tempting to throw it all away, but it never worth, not even aparent "minor issues".
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1041
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 10:09 am:   Edit Post

It's nice to have the perspective of one of our international club members (on what seems to be ultimately an international issue). Mario's insights make me feel especially lucky to live where I do, and to be able share electronic space with all of the rest of you and your unique perspectives.
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 647
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 1:42 pm:   Edit Post

Now Dave deleted his post...well gee, I liked his post...but whatevs. Respect to Dave.

There's a new story from the WSJ containing the latest developments. I guess I won't post a link, but it's out there....
rustyg61
Advanced Member
Username: rustyg61

Post Number: 312
Registered: 2-2011
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 1:58 pm:   Edit Post

No political comment here, read it & draw your own conclusions.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903895904576542942027859286.html?mod=WSJ_article_comments#articleTabs%3Darticle
glocke
Senior Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 914
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 3:52 pm:   Edit Post

Maybe the USFW just dont like Rock n'Roll.
lesh_lash
Junior
Username: lesh_lash

Post Number: 18
Registered: 6-2009
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 6:23 pm:   Edit Post

This is not the first time Gibson has been raided over this same crap! Like it or not this is a political matter!!! How can it not be??? Since it is only gibson getting screwed with and no one else???
And by the way since when did we accept India's laws in America??? Oh yea we didn't!!!!
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 648
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 6:35 pm:   Edit Post

That's what the Lacey Act is. Circa 1900. But there does seem to be an issue with selective enforcement that some people are interpreting politically.
peoplechipper
Advanced Member
Username: peoplechipper

Post Number: 256
Registered: 2-2009
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 10:18 pm:   Edit Post

It's not completely political here, more like 'efficient policing'; hit the big guy and the little guys'll smarten up...bad for Gibson as they seem to be really trying to be good guys...if we're all lucky they'll go after Martin for those Formica guitars as 'crimes against tone!' Tony
chuck
Advanced Member
Username: chuck

Post Number: 266
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 4:49 am:   Edit Post

Gibson has a law suit against the fed's for the return of wood taken in a previous raid.
Could this be retribution.

Chuck
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 649
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 8:55 am:   Edit Post

Martin is "little"?

Meanwhile...can't resist posting this...from the second WSJ article...

"After the 2009 raid, Mr. Juszkiewicz resigned from the board of the Rainforest Alliance, which seeks to preserve tropical forests. He said he didnít want to tar the nonprofit with bad publicity. A Rainforest Alliance spokeswoman said he wasnít pressured to step down, and the group continues to praise Gibsonís 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."
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1042
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 11:49 am:   Edit Post

Maybe Martin, Fender, etc. didn't violate the law. It seems as though most of the posts here assume that every major guitar company is breaking the law, and that only Gibson is being picked on. That seems like a pretty big assumption to me (unless someone actually has some proof to the contrary).

Also, I know that if I worked for one of those other guitar companies, I would certainly be applying a level of heightened scrutiny to my imports.
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 650
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 1:11 pm:   Edit Post

Kevin,

In an overly regulated bureaucracy, there are so many laws and regulations it's almost guaranteed that the PTB can find violations if they want to. This applies to more than just guitar companies; it's a point about society many people have made from a variety of different political perspectives, from Ayn Rand to Robert Anton Wilson. Or Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." It's a well-worn theme at this point.
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1043
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 1:38 pm:   Edit Post

I'll agree that in a complicated system it isn't hard to catch someone violating the law on a technicality. I would also point out that if you're been caught violating the law once, you had better expect that you will receive heightened scrutiny in the future (especially if your employees have been caught authoring emails which suggest purchasing raw materials via the "grey market," i.e. illegally). This applies to law enforcement at all levels. I'm sure a cop is more likely to search the car of an ex-con in a traffic stop than he is the average Joe. However, I still think it unlikely that the President sat down with the director of the USFW and hatched a conspiracy to attack the Republican party via Gibson guitar.
hb3
Senior Member
Username: hb3

Post Number: 651
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 2:06 pm:   Edit Post

Lol! Well, when you turn it into a parody, then yeah, it's easy to dismiss.

More information will reveal itself...maybe...but that's the thing about paranoia -- it may be justified, it may not be, and it's frequently impossible to tell which is which. The common result is fear and uncertainty, which is what the first article noted -- a trickle-down effect to the everyday musician. This is a good example of the "Kafkaesque."

One thing I'd like to know is really how great the risk is of having your instrument confiscated by customs. Is that just a trumped up fear, or is it real? Personally, I've been thinking of doing some gigs out of the country, but if there's any risk they're gonna take my bass, forget it....
tubeperson
Advanced Member
Username: tubeperson

Post Number: 207
Registered: 5-2005
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 2:07 pm:   Edit Post

You cannot forget President Nixon's hit list. A Democrat is just as likely to behave as
badly as Nixon did. We hear the current administration is preparing a smear campaign for any Republican challenger. No politician or political party is innocent.
hydrargyrum
Senior Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 1044
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 2:23 pm:   Edit Post

"No politician or political party is innocent." I think we can all agree there. :-)

At this point I think it best for me to politely cease my additions to this topic in this particular venue. I've enjoyed the conversation, and certainly take no personal offense to anything that has been posted here. While I like to think that I would have normally avoided topics which were exclusively political, this topic did include areas that I thought relevant (specifically, travel with instruments, and regulations regarding instrument manufacture). I believe I've crossed the lines on the posting guidelines, and I appreciate the patience shown by our gracious hosts at Alembic for allowing this conversation. If anyone would like to continue in a private setting, my email is in my profile, and I would be happy to converse with any of you. I have nothing but admiration for this company, and group of folks.
eligilam
Advanced Member
Username: eligilam

Post Number: 333
Registered: 2-2006
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 5:09 pm:   Edit Post

Wow....a Robert Anton Wilson mention. I love this community!
peoplechipper
Advanced Member
Username: peoplechipper

Post Number: 257
Registered: 2-2009
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011 - 9:40 pm:   Edit Post

Yah, smart people here!

The whole thing here is probably some border agency got lazy and skipped a step and someone at the other end had a hissy fit and went for it...I am glad to know that there are strong restrictions on exotic woods, it helps preserve the good stuff and keep it from extinction...

Seriously better than the gem industry...I'm a goldsmith so at times I gotta buy gems...customer wants a deep red ruby; I find a "Thai" one at a local gem dealer...I know that Thai ruby is actually kinda pink, the Thai ruby I just bought was actually Burmese that had been smuggled 'where the sun don't shine' across the border to Thailand...all you can do is decide to buy or not...why I try to recycle jewellery...

The diamond business is actually way better at tracking sources for stones(like the wood biz!) but the coloured stone biz will likely never get there. Too many uncertainties of supply, too many of the stones come from marginal and unmanageable places mined by unknown people...Tony
glocke
Senior Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 915
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, September 03, 2011 - 3:35 am:   Edit Post

Here is the latest from Fox News:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/02/gibson-feds-want-guitar-woodwork-done-by-foreign-labor/?test=latestnews

Gibson is now claiming that the feds have implied that if foreign labor is used for some of the work their problems might go away. Very odd if true, but given other current events that have been in the news recently it would not surprise me (hint: google "fast and furious").

Also, several things about this really undermine the credibility of the feds, and make it looks as if our government is taking it upon itself to interpret/enforce/prosecute the laws of other countries:

1) The Indian gov't has not stepped up and said any of its laws had been violated.

2) Gibson appears to have the support of several conservation organizations on its side.

3) Most importantly, no charges have been filed,even stemming from the 2009 case. This in itself is somewhat scary, as it implies that if they suspect there is a crime, the feds can freely take what is yours and hold onto it indefinitely as it tries to determine if a crime was committed. I am guess that at least as far as the 2009 case goes, since charges have yet to be filed the feds are having a hard time coming up with legitimate charges.

Seems like the feds are kind of writing the book as they go along on this one.

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