Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal (unfortunately, subscribers only) posted an opinion piece on the August raid on Gibson Guitar by federal agents. The charges against the guitar company are rather complicated.
Ms. Strassel reports:
The company, after all, is not accused of importing banned wood (say, Brazilian mahogany). The ebony it bought is legal and documented. The issue is whether Gibson ran afoul of a techinical Indian law governing the export of finished wood products. The U. S. government’s interpretation of Indian law suggests the wood Gibson imported wasn’t finished enough. Got that?
This whole episode was a set-up. The idea was to discourage imports. In 2007, the Lacey Act, which was passed in 1900 to stop trade in illegal wild game, was expanded to cover “plant and plant products” and related items.
The article reports on the impact of this change on one company:
Furniture maker Ikea noted that even if it could comply with the change, the “administrative costs and record-deeping requirements” would cause furniture prices to “skyrocket.” The wood chips that go into its particle-board alone could require tracking back and reporting on more than 100 different tree species.
If you want to see an economy grow, this is not the way to grow it. Tennessee Representatives Marsha Blackburn and Jim Cooper are working to give companies some relief from this insanity. This is, unfortunately, another example of run-away government.