Hypocritical Outrage

Buy American has always been a rallying point in tough economic times especially when you consider that only 63.8% of age eligible workers are working and our unemployment rate is officially reported at a bogus 8.2%.  If everyone that says ‘Buy American’ actually did, our labor participation rate would be much higher and the real unemployment rate substantially lower.  The outsourcing of manufacturing jobs over the past 30 plus years and our insatiable appetite for foreign made goods makes it nearly impossible to own most things that are truly made in America.

The latest outrage being sounded revolves around the United States Olympic Committee and the uniforms our athletes will wear at the upcoming Olympic Games.  The uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, were in fact (ghast!) made in China.  How can this be when the iconic American designer and sponsor of our Olympic team used the best efforts of his company to outfit our team?  It’s not so unbelievable when you consider the fact that 98% of the clothing purchased in this country is made overseas.  Look at the labels of everything you wear and you’ll find some was made in places you never heard of.  From south of the border to Asia, the outsourcing of garment manufacturing has left little in the way of what is truly made in America.

In 2009, HBO aired a documentary entitled ‘Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags’ which highlighted the downfall of the garment industry in the United States.  In the 40 years leading up to this documentary, American clothing actually made in America went from 95% all the way down to 5%.  Although there are still pockets of garment manufacturing remaining, the 5% we had left is shrinking still.  Of course people would love to buy American made clothes, but the loosening of import and export regulations and free trade agreements have pushed more than just the garment industry overseas.  The tradeoff has to a degree been cheaper prices at the expense of employment and entire industries.  Too late to turn back that clock.

Sure garment manufacturing has suffered greatly, but hasn’t the automobile industry been adversely affected by the fact that over 30% of the cars purchased in this country are foreign?  Should it bother you that whenever you call a computer helpline you’re connected to someone named Sean in India?  If we as a nation were that concerned with made in America maybe our trade deficit wouldn’t have been $500 billion in 2010 and $558 billion in 2011.  2012 is on pace for another record.  Should US airlines only buy Boeing jets?  And what about these congressmen and women expressing outrage at the Olympic garments being made in China?  Do they wear garments only made in America? Do they only drive American made cars?  I think not.

Everyone including myself would love to see the US Olympic Team wear their made in America uniforms proudly, and maybe it could have been done somehow, but don’t stand on the pulpit to preach when its next to impossible for everything to be homemade.  Are all the athletic uniforms, shoes, and equipment the team will use in competition made in America?

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