What are the big lessons of this story?
The Department of Justice is under fire for taking the bold step of sending armed agents into the factories of Gibson Guitar in Nashville and Memphis to seize what it believes to be illegal wood.
Via press release from Gibson: “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 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 story – by Ben Howe at RedState – notes that this isn’t the first time Gibson has been raided by “federal agents with automatic weapons” over abstruse definitions of what wood is legal.
Bear in mind that the wood in question in both raids was certified legal by an industry self-regulation group. No matter; in come the automatic weapons and the pencil-necked Assistant US Attorneys.
So the lessons are what?
- We Have Too Many Regulations: Our bureaucracy has metastasized far beyond any level needed to ensure health and safety and adherence to rational laws. It exists, like most Campaign Finance Boards and gun laws, to create criminals where there were none before. This seems to be the case here; the Feds haven’t proved their case from the last raid, a few years back, whose results are still being knocked around in federal court. This raid seems, to Howe, to be a way of stalling a defeat in the first case.
- We Have Too Many Regulators: They have to justify their existence somehow. More than that, they need to guard their turf; the wood industry, especially as re the music industry, has been regulating itself; how many customer bases are as PC as musicians (outside country-western, anyway)?
- The Feds Have Too Many Gun and SWAT Teams: They sent a SWAT team to raid a guitar factory. Not a crack house. Not a Zeta stronghold in the Arizona mountains (perish the freaking though). This is not a surprise, really; ever since the Clinton Administration, the federal government has been arming the bureaucracy; where once the Feds would depend on local SWAT teams to provide the armed muscle for the rare events it was needed, today that Feds have thousands of armed agents outside the FBI and the Marshalls, to say nothing of the military. Where once the FBI might have something akin to a SWAT team, today the Department of Customs, the Marshalls, even the Department of Education have their own heavily-armed paramilitary units. I would joke that the National Endowment for the Humanities has a SWAT team – but I’m afraid that someone would chime in with a link to a story about NEH commandos fast-roping in from a helicopter to serve a no-knock summons.