Not Knowing Where Your Instrument Came From Could Cost You $17,000

Illustration for article titled Not Knowing Where Your Instrument Came From Could Cost You $17,000

There's a war against musical instruments brewing in America. Not because of Rock-n-Roll's shadow affiliation with Satan, or the generations of delinquents they've bred. Rather, environmental agencies are not happy about the types of illegal materials they're made from.

The Wall Street Journal reports that everyone from Gibson Guitar to border-hopping musicians are encountering problems with government agencies over their instruments. If people can't prove where every part of the instrument originated from, they could have it seized and be slapped with a fine (whether the instrument is factory new or decades old doesn't matter).

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent-not to mention face fines and prosecution.

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Gibson is being accused of sourcing wood from illegal vendors, and had to deal with a raid from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Gibson says the allegations are false. Meanwhile, an Atlanta importer who purchased an antique piano couldn't prove the date of origin for the piano when Customs agents came asking. Despite the fact that it was obviously old, he couldn't prove ivory keys it contained were also added before it became illegal to do so. He was forced to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and pay $17,500.

Know your history. When it comes to your instruments, at least. [WSJ]

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We should all be happy. We see our federal marshals, carrying guns, in Gibson Guitar HQs, because Gibson is not using the right wood in its guitars... We're all paying for Gibson to be raided. Well, you're paying if you're paying taxes. I pay about $500K a year in taxes, about half of what I make. I'm so glad. No, really. I think it's great the government essentially extorted $500 million from Google, one of America's most successful companies. I think it's great the U.S. government prosecutes its border agents (Ramos and Compean) for shooting a drug-smuggling criminal in the butt. It's awesome we're forcing everyone to buy health insurance, even if you don't want it. We're losing freedoms daily. But, really when you think about it, it's a better country. Getting better every day. Deficits, more taxes, currency devaluation, wars, wars and more wars. Wow! Who doesn't want that?

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? Just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted."

- Atlas Shrugged