Common Sense, Congress, and Congolese Gold

Whatever your political persuasion, you need to wake up and take notice of the recently enacted Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. More than that, you need to put your congressional representatives in the House and the Senate on notice that you are unhappy that this bill contains a section that will make your life more difficult. Section 1502 requires that manufacturers listed on American stock exchanges verify that the gold in their inventory does not come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The expression about the camel’s nose under the tent is appropriate here.

It is not hard to envision the entire retail and wholesale community being coerced into verifying that the gold in their inventories comes from sources that do not use Congolese gold or that it comes only from approved mines in the Congo.

The Politically Correct Crowd is doing it once again.

The objective of this section is the laudable goal of preventing gold and other materials mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from being used to finance conflicts, killing, and general mayhem on the African continent. However, in the absence of doing something effective, our responsive Congress has chosen once again to “help” the business community by enacting legislation under the guise of better controlling Wall Street. The legislation thus provides increased consumer protection. (Interestingly enough, the legislation leaves Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as they were at the beginning of the economic crisis that these two institutions significantly helped to cause.)

Both the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America and Jewelers of America recommended that members of the trade ask their congressional representatives to vote no on the bill. Unfortunately, section 1502 was a last-minute addition to the so-called reform bill; as a result, it was really too late for individuals to effectively communicate with their legislators in Washington—assuming, of course, they would be interested in hearing a common-sense perspective.

Even though the bill was signed into law by President Obama, perhaps your efforts may pay off if there is a concerted grassroots effort among all the members of the trade—manufacturing, wholesale, and retail—to remove this section of the bill from the law.

Standing in front of your television and yelling at your favorite senator, representative, or other member of the political class will make you feel better, but it will not get this section of the bill removed.

It is truly remarkable to think that such legislation can be proposed, included, and passed without some consultation with the industry that is directly affected by it! Or, failing that, how about some consultation with a high school chemistry teacher to figure out exactly how anyone can differentiate Congolese gold from any other country’s gold? Stupid doesn’t quite capture the flavor of this nonsense. Where do these proposals originate? Who are the people behind them? The desire for ultimate, perfect control over our lives seems to be insatiable for some in Washington.

The impact of such foolish legislation is hard to calculate. It clearly will mean more administrative burdens on the jewelry business, not to mention a focus on a new topic when attention should be put on other areas. It clearly will do nothing on the world stage to prevent conflict in the Congo or any other unstable country on that continent.

Some years ago there was a best-selling book, The Death of Common Sense, by Philip K. Howard. It described the foolishness of much of modern-day America in its subtitle: “How Law Is Suffocating America.” Section 1502 belongs in chapter 1 of an updated version!

Call. Write. Go online or go in person to your representatives and have this nonsensical provision thrown out of the bill. It is time to be mad as hell and not take it anymore.