With jobs as scarce as they are these days, shouldn’t the Obama administration work to keep jobs from being exported overseas? You’d think so, but in fact it appears as though the Obama administration is engaging in intimidation intended to do just that.
According to Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of guitar manufacturer Gibson, officials from the Department of Justice have informed him that the problems which precipitated a raid on company factories and the confiscation of more than $2 million in company property would go away if the company moved jobs overseas and used labor forces in Madagascar rather than here in the States. Over at RedState, Ben Howe transcribed part of a radio interview with the guitar executive on KMJ-AM’s “The Chris Daniel Show”:
CHRIS DANIEL: Mr. Juszkiewicz, did an agent of the US government suggest to you that your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of American labor?
HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that in a pleading.
CHRIS DANIEL: Excuse me?
HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that it a pleading.
CHRIS DANIEL: That your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of our labor?
HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: Yes
Ben’s piece at RedState was preceded by a few hours by a Wall Street Journal article, set to run in this morning’s paper, in which Juszkiewicz recalls how a wood product engineer at Gibson was threatened with prison time by federal agents back in November 2009 despite never being formally accused of wrongdoing. From the Journal:
Federal agents first raided Gibson factories in November 2009 and were back again Aug. 24, seizing guitars, wood and electronic records. Gene Nix, a wood product engineer at Gibson, was questioned by agents after the first raid and told he could face five years in jail.
“Can you imagine a federal agent saying, ‘You’re going to jail for five years’ and what you do is sort wood in the factory?” said Mr. Juszkiewicz, recounting the incident. “I think that’s way over the top.” Gibson employees, he said, are being “treated like drug criminals.”
Mr. Nix hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
As has been pointed out by several people, including Andrew Lawton at the Landmark Report, one of Gibson’s biggest competitors used the exact same exotic wood as used in the Gibson guitars but escaped scrutiny and action from the Department of Justice. Lawton also offered an explanation as to why:
This unfortunate event begs the question, Why Gibson?
Putting aside the presumably misguided motivation to enforce another sovereign nation’s laws, why would a homegrown American company be the target of the Department of Justice in the first place?
It’s worth pointing out that Henry E. Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s Chief Executive Officer, is a donor to a couple of Republican politicians. According to the Open Secrets database, Juszkiewicz donated $2000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN07) last year, as well as $1500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Juszkiewicz also has donated $10,000 to the Consumer Electronics Association, a PAC that contributed $92.5k to Republican candidates last year, as opposed to $72k to Democrats. (The CEA did, however, contribute more to Democrats in the 2008 election cycle.)
When warrants as ridiculous such as these are issued and executed, there appears no other reason than because the company or individual at hand is being targeted, not because there is any sort of wrongdoing. As a company, Gibson is a legendary. They’ve done nothing wrong, except, apparently, deigning to have a Republican CEO.
The plot thickens, however.
One of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Company. The C.E.O., Chris Martin IV, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the DNC over the past couple of election cycles. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood.” In case you were wondering, that is the exact same wood in at least ten of Gibson’s guitars.
The Gibson facility wasn’t raided over allegations of tax evasion, charges of embezzlement, or even something as drab as child labor. Not even close. It was raided over what the DOJ deems an inability to follow a vague domestic trade law in India (one that apparently the Indian government didn’t seem too concerned about enforcing) regarding a specific type of wood. Not illegal wood, just wood with obscenely specific procedural guidelines.
So, what we appear to have here is the Obama administration’s justice department intimidating a company run by an open supporter of Republican politicians, and suggesting through threats of jail time and long-term confiscation of property that the company export its jobs. In other words, leave this town, and there won’t be any more trouble.
It would not be the first time, either, that President Obama has enlisted an outside agency or department to engage in intimidation designed to act as retribution for daring to stand up to the Democratic Party and its interests. After all, it is Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board that is currently involved in litigation with aviation manufacturer Boeing regarding the company’s new manufacturing facility for the 787 Dreamliner. Boeing’s crime? Daring to escape the union stronghold that is Washington State and set up shop a few miles away from me here in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. General Electric is permitted to have aircraft engines built in China, and yet Boeing ain’t allowed in South Carolina? Gimme a break.
Gibson’s CEO dares to contribute to Republicans, and the Department of Justice covers its retributive action by selectively bringing up Lacey Act charges against the company. Boeing dares to reduce the cost of doing business, and the administration tasks the NLRB with carrying out its union protectionism. Not exactly the recipe for job creation and economic growth. Not exactly confidence boosting for those seeking to do business in the United States of America.
And yet, on Thursday, September 8, President Obama will give yet another speech, addressing a joint session of Congress and laying out the “jobs” plan he hinted at before going away for ten days at Martha’s Vineyard. In the speech, amid the platitudes and applause lines and talking points recycled from the last eight speeches given on the issues of economic and job growth–I’ve said before that the administration’s speechwriters have been replaced with “CTRL+C” and “CTRL+V”–the president is rumored to be unveiling seven new regulatory actions which, according to House Speaker John Boehner, will have a combined economic cost of $100 billion and will do little else then further stifle job growth.
To be completely honest, a far-left Democrat president unveiling new, job-killing regulations should be far from surprising. It’s the same sort of backchannel erosion of economic freedom undertaken by the American left for the better part of a century. What should be surprising, however, is how the Obama administration is not satisfied with merely killing jobs and stifling growth but is instead taking an active role in the intentional hindrance of growth through a pattern of politically-based intimidation.
This president and his party are so consumed by political power in perpetuity that they would gladly sacrifice the fiscal health of a nation in order to secure more fiscal health for themselves. What we need is a president who will forsake politics in favor of results.
Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent. Factor in those who are involuntarily underemployed or those who have just stopped looking for work, and we’re looking at a true unemployment rate of 16 percent or more.
As Rick Perry, Ron Paul and some of the other GOP candidates have pointed out, despite the language employed by the right so often in talking points, it is not the role of government to actually create jobs, but rather it is the role of government to put into place a climate that is inherently conducive toward job creation. In his announcement speech given here in Charleston at the RedState Gathering on August 13, the Texas governor touted four principles he put to work to accomplish just that:
- Balanced Budget
- Reduced Tax Burden
- Fair and Predictable Regulation
- Civil Legal Reform
Governor Perry did not create jobs. The policies he implemented, however, created an environment in Texas that allowed for the Lone Star State to be responsible for the creation of four out of every ten new jobs in America since June 2009. There’s a distinction there that a lot of well-meaning political types misstate or miss altogether. I’ve done it plenty; all too often, I write about how we need to “create jobs” when I should be writing that we need to “facilitate job growth.”
Grasp the difference? The Obama administration sure doesn’t. Unless, of course, by “facilitate” they also mean “threaten,” and by “growth,” they mean “exportation.”