I think the current outrage directed against U.S.-based clothing manufacturer Ralph Lauren is pretty interesting. If you’re not familiar with the story, here’s a quick summary. On July 27, the U.S. Olympic team will march in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London — in uniforms manufactured in China. When word recently hit the media about this turn of events, members of Congress erupted — roundly chastizing Ralph Lauren for outsourcing more jobs to China, and the U.S. Olympic Committee for allowing our athletes to wear uniforms made outside the United States. Typical was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comment that the Olympic Committee should “burn them and start all over again.”
What I find particularly interesting about the story is that our politicians — from both sides of the aisle, Democrat and Republican alike — have created a flashpoint around the uniforms to be worn by our athletes in the opening ceremonies, but (as usual) they ignore the bigger picture. As the Washington Post pointed out, "Congress has not yet suggested burning Spalding basketballs, Adidas leotards, Nike shoes or the Acer computers that the Olympic Committee will be using courtesy of their sponsors, all of whose products are manufactured abroad."
Okay. I understand that it’s an election year, and both sides are trying to score some easy political points with the voting public. However, what does it really gain us as a nation to use free trade as a punching bag? Not much in my estimation.
For it’s part, Ralph Lauren has promised to manufacture the U.S. Olympic team uniforms for the 2014 Olympic Games opening ceremony in the United States. Now, can we move on to more important issues? Like reining in government spending and paying down our national debt?
Oh right, I forgot. That’s one race our current Congress isn’t up for.