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All Da King's Men

America, Land Of The Regulated

By Da King Published: August 27, 2011

It was bad enough when the government turned off the water supply of California farmers to protect a minnow. The farmers went bust as their crops rotted and died.

It was bad enough when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) into law, with it's 150 or so new government agencies, panels, and commissions, along with possibly thousands of new regulations. That will be a new maze of bureaucracy we can all enjoy. As Rep. Pelosi infamously stated, we'll find out what in the legislation after we pass it. That's how we do things now. We pass legislation, and then try to figure out how it works. Perfectly sensible, at least to government bureaucrats.

It was bad enough when Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill into law, with it's 400 or so new regulations, the majority of which were not even written at the time of the bill's signing. That legislation is a blank check for unrestrained government power, but oddly, it didn't do the things that might prevent the next housing meltdown. It didn't make mortgage derivatives illegal, and it didn't stop the secondary mortgage market hustle on Wall Street. We are now supposed to believe that government "oversight" of mortgage-related risk will prevent the next mortgage crisis, when it was government policies pushing homeownership that drove the crisis in the first place. Color me extremely skeptical. The usual culprits on the Left are already pushing for more homeownership and lower lending standards again. They never learn. We'll also find out what's in Dodd-Frank after it's passage, and those regulations are supposed to be finalized and implemented this year. I can't wait to see what kind of negative effect that has on the financial sector and thus the economy and jobs.

It's somehow even more offensive that authorities are shutting down children's lemonade stands across the country. Seems the kiddies didn't have the proper government licenses and permits, don't you know. The permits would cost the little tykes far more than the few bucks they'd get from selling lemonade, not that government bureaucrats care about that. They are more interested in shutting down the all the would-be little Dillingers selling lemonade illegally. Yesterday, I heard about a kid's green tea stand being shut down. What kind of country are we becoming ?

It was bad enough when the federal government tried to prevent the Boeing Corporation from building a plant in South Carolina to manufacture Dreamliner jets. How that is any of the federal government's business, I have no idea. In related news, Obama's Jobs Czar, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, announced that GE will build jets in China. Those Chinese-made jets will COMPETE with Boeing. Our own government tries to stop Boeing from building jets in South Carolina, but building them in China is apparently hunky dory. Such brilliant leaders we have. I guess Obama forgot to tell Immelt that the jobs he created were supposed to be in America. Sounds like yet another "pivot to jobs" is in order after all. Obama claims he has nothing to do with the NLRB's lawsuit to prevent Boeing from putting a plant in S.C., but most of the NLRB board are Obama appointees. Obama's one degree of separation argument isn't very convincing.

And now our government gone wild has ventured into my territory. They are confiscating guitars. I learned of this when I read about the feds raiding the Gibson Guitar company in a WSJ article titled Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians In Fear:

Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson's chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company's manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. "The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier," he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.

It isn't the first time that agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service have come knocking at the storied maker of such iconic instruments as the Les Paul electric guitar, the J-160E acoustic-electric John Lennon played, and essential jazz-boxes such as Charlie Christian's ES-150. In 2009 the Feds seized several guitars and pallets of wood from a Gibson factory, and both sides have been wrangling over the goods in a case with the delightful name "United States of America v. Ebony Wood in Various Forms."

If you are an electric guitar player, you know Gibson is the gold standard, the American classic. It sounds like the feds have decided Gibson is guilty, and now Gibson must prove it's innocence. That's how it's supposed to work here, right ?

The feds also have musicians worried that they will confiscate their instruments:

It isn't just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next.

It's not enough to know that the body of your old guitar is made of spruce and maple: What's the bridge made of? If it's ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar's headstock bone, or could it be ivory? "Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever," Prof. Thomas has written. "Oh, and you'll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration."

Consider the recent experience of Pascal Vieillard, whose Atlanta-area company, A-440 Pianos, imported several antique Bösendorfers. Mr. Vieillard asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to fill out the correct paperwork—which simply encouraged them to alert U.S. Customs to give his shipment added scrutiny.

There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys. But Mr. Vieillard didn't have his paperwork straight when two-dozen federal agents came calling.

Facing criminal charges that might have put him in prison for years, Mr. Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, and was handed a $17,500 fine and three years probation.

If you can't satisfy the bureaucrats that your guitar is made of the "politically correct" materials, even though it is practically impossible to provide such documentation on vintage instruments, you could be in a heap of trouble. They will take your instruments away permanently and fine you. I better start playing more blues.

Damn. Now we have guitar cops on the prowl, smashing guitars like John Belushi in Animal House. I wonder if my vintage 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special passes regulatory muster ? I love that guitar. Hopefully, no government bureaucrats are reading this, and if they are, what I meant to say was, I don't own any such instrument. Never did, and never will. And for the record, Guitar Cops, I don't own a vintage flattop Martin acoustic guitar either. I love you, Big Brother.

I have a theory that eventually everything will be illegal, and the only thing keeping you out of jail will be whether the government feels like prosecuting you or not. We'll lose our liberty gradually, bit by bit, year by year. That should keep us all in line, eh ? There's your utopian big government society. Everyone will behave because they'll be scared to death of the unlimited power of the tyrants. That's what our Founding Fathers envisioned for us, right ?

I keep hearing people talk about how the government needs to push job creation in this country. For my two cents, I'd be content if the government just stopped destroying them.



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