With nothing better to do than challenge the patriotism of a private company, Congress members on both sides of the isle blasted Ralph Lauren and the US Olympic Committee for not creating uniforms made in the US.
Harry Reid said, “I am so upset. I think the Olympic Committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them and start all over again.”
Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York went further, “It is not just a label, it’s an economic solution. Today there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country and the Olympic Committee is out sourcing manufacturing of uniforms to China? That is not just outrageous, it’s just plan dumb.”
But hold the phone……is there a reason why companies are outsourcing to China?
Could it be that the American textiles mills are all but non-existent?
Could it be that thanks to NAFTA, CAFTA, and a host of preferential trade agreements with India, China, and a host of other countries, our own manufacturing industry has rendered what few facilities remain, financially impractical?
The NAFTA debacle has the blood of Republican and Democrat politicians alike. But Obama had campaigned on repealing the unpopular act. However, much like the vast majority of his campaign pledges, he has done nothing to rid us of trade agreements that destroy employment and industries in this country. I am certainly not blaming Obama for NAFTA, Clinton and Bush 2 own responsibility. But Obama did promise that repealing NAFTA was would a priority and has yet to even address it, after three years in office and staggering unemployment numbers.
Blaming Ralph Lauren or the Olympic Committee for manufacturing uniforms in China is hypicritical at best. Even had they been able to find a manufacturing facility in the US that would have been cost effective, the lack of textile mills would have meant that they still had to purchase fabric made abroad. And why should their standards be any higher than that of our own military? Military spending contracts, contracts that are voted upon and agreed up by Congress include the purchasing of fabrics and uniforms produced all over the world, including China.
Wait a minute! Aren’t our own military’s uniforms 100% American made? Many believe that the Berry Amendment, which was originally designed to insure that military supplies, including uniforms were made in the US of US materials, means that all military supplies are in fact made in the USA. However, loopholes, poor monitoring, and exceptions written into the Amendment mean that while some uniforms and supplies are 100% USA made from 100% USA sources, others aren’t. Some supplies are “finished” or constructed in the US, but the actual components, fabrics, etc are manufactured elsewhere.
When you start looking at uniforms and supplies used for the police, homeland security, and other government agents, the chance of “Made in the USA” being on the label is even more remote. Russian manufacturers supply US law enforcement with rifles, Chinese companies make police uniforms, and even when American companies offer competitive bids for jobs, foreign made still wins out thanks to cost, turn-around time, and lack of Union interference.
Of course now that Ralph Lauren has been revealed to be a major contributor to the DNC and a contributor to Obama himself, some of the Democrat “furor” has died down. Lauren, for his part has pledged to find a US producer for the 2014 uniforms, promoting some to ask why his company has the cornerstone on making Olympic uniforms in the first place.
If we truly want “Made in the USA” to be not only the preferred moniker in clothing, but an accurate assessment of an items origin, we can’t blame the companies looking at the bottom line. Instead, ending foreign policies that favor other countries products and support other economies would be a great start. If we don’t have textile mills and clothing factories, we can’t blame companies from going elsewhere. But, ending the treaties is just the beginning.
Getting the government out of the regulation and punishing business so that companies can operate in the US without tyrannical control, is an essential component.
Then you have to loosen the grip of Unions whose necessity has passed and who now simply another layer of crippling expense to the American economy.
And finally, recognize that there is honor in labor. Millions of Americans would benefit from trade schools and apprenticeships. One of the causes for the significant economic downturns in our society is the idea that all citizens should have a college education. By deeming trades and manual labor “beneath” Americans, we have created the unskilled and illegal immigration problem and our own dependency on the factories of other countries.
A “Made in the USA” label is a great idea, but until we can actually MAKE things in a cost effective manner in the USA, it’s all political hypocrisy.