A group of senators has taken the anger over Team USA's preppy ceremonial uniforms for the London Olympics to a whole new level. Politicians from both parties flew into a rage last week after learning that the outfits — even the jaunty berets — were made in China. (A similar controversy erupted in 2008.) The U.S. Olympic Committee and Ralph Lauren, maker of the outfits, responded by promising to use domestic factories for the 2014 Winter Olympics uniforms. Now, six Senate Democrats say they plan to introduce a bill requiring that Team USA's uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies of all future Olympics be produced at home to safeguard U.S. jobs and demonstrate pride in American labor. Is this silly political grandstanding, or do the senators have a valid point?
This phony patriotism is pathetic: These Senate Democrats are confusing protectionism with patriotism, says Erika Johnsen at Hot Air. "Petty big-government interference" in a privately-funded effort like our Olympic team is the kind of thing that hurts the economy. Ralph Lauren manufactured these uniforms in China for the same reason Americans get 98 percent of their clothes from overseas — it's more efficient, and, therefore, better for economic growth. So please, can the "faux populist outrage."
"Senate Dems introducing the 'Team USA Made in America Act of 2012.' Seriously"
But it's critical that these uniforms be made at home: Outsourcing something as symbolically important as our Olympic uniforms is "100 percent wrong," Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) tells PoliticsPA. These are hard times, and millions of Americans are unemployed. Manufacturing our official Olympic apparel at home would have sent the message that the nation has pride in its labor force. It also would have "directly assisted American textile workers," instead of their competitors abroad.
"Casey calls for American-made Olympic uniforms"
These uniforms are American: There's nothing "un-American" about these uniforms, says Daniel Ikenson at CNN. Yes, the low-wage laborers who stitched the garments together were in China. But, like most of the rest of the foreign-made apparel filling our closets, these outfits were designed and branded by an American company, and they'll be marketed to cost-conscious American consumers. Trade is "not a win-lose proposition. Politicians should butt out and let the 'competition' play out in the pools, tracks and playing fields."
"Why not make Olympic uniforms in China?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How I lost all my money
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- The best books we read in 2014
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
Subscribe to the Week