Registered: Oct 2003
08-08-12 05:56 PM
Quote from Covertibility:
Regulation 55-453.21.a.34 A fast food establishment shall not dump grease in the sewer drain.
Regulation 33-343.22.1.ab.34 A bookstore shall recycle discarded books and not engage in Nazi-like book burning behind the building that could cause spread to adjacent buildings.
I wonder how many of the so called thousands and thousands of regulations out there are really that burdensome to a typical business.
it is the fact that there are so many regulations which turns any businessman into a criminal if the government decides to focus on them.
By HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ
Making its way through the House of Representatives is a bill that could help prevent companies from experiencing what happened to mine last Aug. 24. Without warning, 30 federal agents with guns and bulletproof vests stormed our guitar factories in Tennessee. They shut down production, sent workers home, seized boxes of raw materials and nearly 100 guitars, and ultimately cost our company $2 million to $3 million worth of products and lost productivity. Why? We imported wood from India to make guitars in America.
Growing businesses face a number of hurdles in today's economy. For Gibson Guitar—a company that has created more than 580 American jobs in the last two years—the largest hurdle is the federal government.
The Aug. 24 raid was authorized under the Lacey Act. Originally enacted as a means to curb the poaching of endangered species, the law bans wildlife and plants from being imported if, according to the interpretation of federal bureaucrats, the importation violates a law in the country of origin.
The fingerboards of our guitars are made with wood that is imported from India. The wood seized during the Aug. 24 raid, however, was from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified supplier, meaning the wood complies with FSC's rules requiring that it be harvested legally and in compliance with traditional and civil rights, among other protections. Indian authorities have provided sworn statements approving the shipment, and U.S. Customs allowed the shipment to pass through America's border to our factories.
Nonetheless, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to enforce its own interpretation of Indian law, arguing that because the fingerboards weren't finished in India, they were illegal exports. In effect, the agency is arguing that to be in compliance with the law, Gibson must outsource the jobs of finishing craftsmen in Tennessee.
A Gibson Guitar Corp. employee tests the sound of a guitar at the company's factory in Nashville, Tenn.
This is an overreach of government authority and indicative of the kinds of burdens the federal government routinely imposes on growing businesses. It also highlights a dangerous trend: an attempt to punish even paperwork errors with criminal charges and to regulate business activities through criminal law. Policy wonks call this "overcriminalization." I call it a job killer.
In America alone, there are over 4,000 federal criminal offenses. Under the Lacey Act, for instance, citizens and business owners also need to know—and predict how the U.S. federal government will interpret—the laws of nearly 200 other countries on the globe as well.
Many business owners have inadvertently broken obscure and highly technical foreign laws, landing them in prison for things like importing lobster tails in plastic rather than cardboard packaging (the violation of that Honduran law earned one man an eight-year prison sentence). Cases like this make it clear that the justice system has strayed from its constitutional purpose: stopping the real bad guys from bringing harm.
A proposed bill in the House—the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (Relief) Act—could reduce the chances of citizens accidentally running afoul of the Lacey law.
But broader change is needed. I recently endorsed the Right on Crime Statement of Principles, which asserts that criminal law is an overly blunt instrument for regulating nonfraudulent business activities. Right On Crime—a conservative initiative supported by Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and others—also argues that costly criminal proceedings should be reserved for those acts that threaten public safety, and expensive prison beds should be used only for offenders who are blameworthy or endanger our neighborhoods.
Nationwide, the criminal-justice system costs taxpayers more than $200 billion a year, judging by figures from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. While much of that spending is justified, Right on Crime argues that much of it could be eliminated or redirected without hurting public safety. For instance, the government has probably spent millions of taxpayer dollars on the Gibson factory raids, investigating an Indian law India said we didn't break. This is an overreach of government authority and an abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Policy makers must stop criminalizing capitalism. This begins by stopping the practice of creating new criminal offenses, or wielding obscure foreign laws, as a method of regulating businesses.
Especially in a bearish economy, entrepreneurs need to be able to operate without the fear that inadvertently breaking an obscure regulation or unknowingly violating a foreign statute could shut down their company and land them or their employees in jail.
Mr. Juszkiewicz is the CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp.
A version of this article appeared July 20, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Gibson's Fight Against Criminalizing Capitalism.
these are examples of overreach and overkill on a large scale. multiply it by the hundred of thousands on a smaller scale. then there are the fines and the lawyer bills and the lost hours wasted fighting the government, which could have been used building the business.