As I sit here pondering the predicament I find myself and Gibson in I ask myself WHY?  The question in my mind goes beyond the interesting “who did this to us?” and goes to what possible purpose can this enormous governmental expense and effort achieve for the citizens that are paying for the effort?  This Department of Justice Investigation has already cost the government millions of dollars.  It has already cost Gibson millions of dollars, money that could have been invested in new business as virtually all profits have been since I have been with the company.  Yes, not investing these funds, and injuring Gibson’s ability compete does cost jobs – real jobs.  These funds are now going to lawyers that are working to defend us, and to the extraordinary efforts of our people trying to keep the business running when our raw materials were seized without notice.

The government hopes to convict someone, keep our raw materials from us, send someone to jail and fine us severely.  For the huge cost, what would be the purpose of this outcome?

There are some very real and very serious problems facing us.  As the global population increases the natural resources of this world are being depleted.  Very often, the natural resources are in countries which have unstable with corrupt governments where there are truly bad actors acting to enrich themselves as opposed to the social good.  There are very few consumer products that are not touched by such issues, wood products being among them.

Prohibition all Over Again

Can passing a law, stop these wrongs?   In the early nineteenth century reformers took on alcohol and used the same prescription, let’s pass a law with onerous consequences and that would surely eradicate the problem.  How did that work out?

These problems are deeply rooted, involving consumer tastes, political currents in developing countries, global political chess with nation-states, poverty, lack of education and health infrastructure, etc.  These problems are not solved by a law.  It will take thoughtful leadership using both the carrot and the stick and a plan to get from here to there.  It needs many shoulders at a very messy and difficult wheel, all with good intent, not slave labor under the duress of the Justice Department sword.

Leadership is not the Rule of the Day

It seems to me that it is not the law itself, but the thoughtful application of the law that will achieve difficult but necessary social results.  Businesses, including Gibson should certainly be held accountable, but we can be part of the solution if anyone had the character to discuss an issue with us.  One of the most successful large scale government programs was the Marshall Plan that instead of punishing our World War II enemies embraced them and helped rebuild their nations.  The ensuing prosperity generated allies and trading partners to this day.

But this sort of leadership is not easy in this polarized hateful climate where success is measured by who and what you destroy, and not the social good you build.  It is about self-centered constituencies who see things as war, as opposed to having a sense of social good for all, for the planet.  It is about big business verses the poor, the religiously devout verses the secular, the republicans verses the democrats, and on it goes.  Who has the courage to stand for all?  Who can say that all need to prosper and the world needs to be better off?

My Fantasy – A Leader that Embraces All

One great aspect of being human is one has a capacity to dream.  One can dream on how things can be, perhaps how they should be.  In my dream there are leaders, more than one, that can stand up for principal and the common good, with realistic plans to change the world that are not built on the latest polls.  These leaders have a clear constant unwavering vision for real beneficial change.  They know how to use the stick but they have both compassion and respect for all constituencies.

It would have been great to have someone call us and tell us they thought we were doing something wrong and sit down in a mutually respectful environment, instead of being treated like a criminal or terrorist for two years without a single true discussion.  It would have been so much more energizing to work towards a better world by investing in solving problems and working towards a common goal.  It would be so great if there was someone you can call at an Executive level that can thoughtfully review a situation and make it right and fair.

But I woke up today, the dream evaporated and I am facing the nightmare of the way it really is.

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