The Gibson Raid: When You Lie Down with Dogs, You Get Up with Fleas

There’s an old saying that if you lie down with dogs be prepared to get up with fleas. Apparently if you lie down with environmentalists you should be prepared to get raided by the Feds.

That’s the lesson to be learned from the experience of Gibson Guitars, whose Tennessee-based operations were overrun by armed agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service this week. The agents were looking for wood used in the manufacturing of the company’s legendary six strings. They believe some of it comes from sources not considered environmentally correct.

Gibson’s CEO protested the raid loudly this week, and who can blame him? For years Gibson has worked hand in glove with far left environmental organizations in an effort to make sure their wood comes from “approved” sources. Gibson is a partner in Greenpeace’s “Music Wood” campaign. It was one of the first instrument makers to procure wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), another green group. Gibson’s president sat on the board of Rainforest Alliance.

What has all the consorting with environmentalists gotten Gibson? Government jackboots kicking down doors and bad-mouthing from environmentalists.

And is anyone surprised to find George Soros involved in this saga?

The Environmental Investigation Agency is a radical propaganda and agitation organization. It has pushed aggressively for the government to punish Gibson for not being green enough (despite Gibson’s long-standing history of yielding to green demands). EIA is supported by the anti-American billionaire Soros.

There is another wrinkle to the story here that’s worth highlighting. It has to do with a growing problem that my organization has been highlighting for months. An unsavory alliance of government policymakers, ideological activists, and corporate interests is colluding to block trade in goods from developing countries, in this case wood from Asia, India, and Africa.

Why would they do this, and why would they target a popular and innovative American company? Blocking trade benefits timber interests in Europe and the United States. It also helps domestic unions who don’t like competition. And it satisfies the demands of hard greens who want to control the market for forest products. The Obama administration goes along with all this to support its union and green political base.

The loser here is not just Gibson but consumers who must pay higher prices for finished goods like guitars and other products requiring wood.

The vehicle for the assault on Gibson is the Lacey Act. This is an example of the law of unintended consequences and of government run amok. The original intention of the Lacey Act was really quite admirable – to prevent the poaching of wildlife on American land. But thanks to hard green radicals and agitators such as Soros, it has been expanded in recent years as a way to police global trade in forest goods. The hallmark of overcriminalization, folks who have (unwittingly) run afoul of the Lacey Act have, quite literally, found themselves in jail, with their property taken away.

One hopes that one day soon Gibson gets its lawful day in court, as it says it wants. Until that time, there are some hard lessons to learn here for companies pursuing so-called “corporate social responsibility” measures.

Simply put, their partners in the environmental movement operate in bad faith. At the end of the day, greens are hostile to free enterprise and private property deep down in their bones. No amount of caving to their demands will placate them.

While Tea Partiers are portrayed by the mainstream media as radicals and potentially dangerous, no Tea Partier has ever advocated barging in to someone’s business and confiscating his property. It’s the far left environmental movement that is the real danger here, backed by the deep pockets of George Soros and others, and empowered by an Obama administration that will never solve the country’s jobs crisis if it continues harassing American companies this way. At the very least, it is time to examine this nation’s problem with overcriminalization–starting with the Lacey Act itself.