[Ed. – If you remember one line, remember this: “The process is the punishment.” Having to defend yourself is the deterrent, the censorship, the intimidation. But read, as they say, the whole thing.]
Nothing about this caper ever smelled right: a raid coming from out of nowhere, without warning, to kick Gibson’s doors down, ostensibly because they violated some vaporous provision of import laws when bringing hardwood into the country. It wasn’t even American law they were supposedly violating, but an American law that said they were in hot water for violating the laws of India and Madagascar, which came as something of a surprise to authorities in India and Madagascar. In a delightful inversion of American legal principle, the folks at Gibson were never allowed to see the sealed warrant that supposedly authorized the raid. Guilty until proven innocent! We’ll get back to you later on what you’re allegedly guilty of.
Forbes recently talked to [CEO Henry] Juszkiewicz, and he finally thinks he knows who was really behind it all: unions. He’s got some good reasons for thinking so:
Two months before the raid, lobbyists slipped some arcane supply-chain reporting provisions into an extension of the Lacey Act of 1900 that changed the technical definition of “fingerboard blanks,” which are legal to import.
With no clear legal standards, a sealed warrant the company has not been allowed to see too this day, no formal charges filed, and the threat of a prison term hanging over any executive who does not take “due care” to abide by this absurdly vague law, Gibson settled. …
There aren’t too many companies our mega-government couldn’t find an excuse to hassle, and even if the charges prove to be groundless – or based on obscure laws no one seems to understand – the process is the punishment. Nearly unlimited power is available to cost people and corporations targeted by the State huge amounts of money, or damage their business models. Stories keep piling up of people afraid to resist aggressive bureaucrats because of how much it would cost them – look at what happens to those who dispute EPA land-use regulations, and discover they’ll be on the hook for millions of dollars in accumulated fines if they lose.