Friday, July 13, 2012

Condemning Olympic Apparel Made in China: Another Tempest in a Teapot Brewed by Congress

Congress is tackling yet another crisis of gargantuan proportions. They are upset that the spiffy outfits the American Olympic team will wear at the opening ceremony while designed by Ralph Lauren are (gasp) made in China.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was outraged and declared that all the uniforms should be burned and just let the athletes wear singlets with hand painted logo of USA. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle jumped in to castigate the Olympic Committee for failing to buy American.

A representative of the American garment industry pointed out that at about $1500 to outfit each athlete, the committee could easily have sourced the apparel from US makers.

What the person did not point out was that a made-in-the-USA outfit would have taken out the entire margin of the opening wear--a margin that the committee undoubtedly intended as part of their fund raising effort.

Just go on to the official website of the US Olympic Committee and one can see all kinds of “official” souvenir gear from berets to shirts and blazers available for fans to purchase. If the apparel were made in the USA and still affordably priced to sell, the committee would not raise much money, if any.

Unlike some countries, such as China, where Olympic participation enjoys state financial support, the US Olympians will go to London through donations and private sector fund raising efforts.

The US government, even if it wanted to, does not have the money to finance the Olympians. Members of Congress surely know all this.

Since much of what Americans wear are made in China, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. But when it became known that the Olympian garb was also from China, it was a no risk, no cost, no downside, and no brainer opportunity to take a pot shot at the Olympic Committee and vilify once again things made in China.

In the meantime, disaster looms as America hurtles towards the “fiscal cliff” at yearend. That’s when tax cuts expire and mandated government spending cuts begin.

While all the economists and pundits are certain that such a combination will result in the next economic disaster for the US, they are also certain that no one in Washington has the political courage or vision to enact anything meaningful that would stop the runaway train.

Such has the state of our democracy become: Terrifically adept at jumping into petty minutia but cowardly absent when it comes to tackling real issues confronting the future well-being of this country.

To conform to Senator Reid’s wishes, the standard bearer leading the US delegation into the opening ceremony in London should wear nothing (made in China), just a G-string with a made-in-USA label emblazoned to the extent possible.

Such a spectacle will convey several concurrent messages to the worldwide viewers: Washington kingmakers have no clothes and no statesmanship, and America is a poor country in more ways than one. 

See another version in New America Media. The LA Times carried the astonished view of the controversy from China.

1 comment:

Roger Dong said...

Thanks George, this another example of exaggerated nationalism that doesn't make business sense. If people wanted to fight the Made in China trend, they better stop shopping in all our major companies, including Costco, Macy's, Crate and Barrel, etc, etc. Oops, did I forget Walmart?

The low cost of products made in China are helping many Americans in these dark economic times.

Many also forget that manufacturing in China helps many companies stay profitable. For that great American firm GM, they have been making $$ in the sale of GM cars in China while its sales in America have been in the red in the past decade. I also noticed in the last few years that the design of many of our American vehicles have started to look a lot like Japanese designed vehicles. This will be challenged by red necks, but look at the design of our vehicles ten years ago, and look at them now. If a person did not know the name of some of our cars, they could easily misidentify them as Japanese made cars.