What's the Fuss About those Uniforms?
By Tibor Machan - July 23, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Reid expressed outrage about the fact that the uniforms American athletes were going to wear at the opening ceremonies for this summer's Olympics in London, UK, were manufactured in China. No, he wasn't complaining because the places where they were made employ minors or violate other standards of proper business. He was fussing about the fact that making the uniforms was outsourced. And now it appears commitments have come forth from Ralph Lauren, who has the contract to produce the uniforms, that outsourcing the task of making the uniforms will be stopped.

What insanity. Who makes such uniforms competently and least expensively? That is the question, not where they are made. Commerce isn't about nationalism but about cutting good deals. How many of us wear garments, use gadgets and devices, rely on various articles of clothing such as buttons and fabrics or accessories such as watches, glasses and so forth, made who knows where by who knows whom? Why is this important if it doesn't involve any kind of forced labor?

Dissing Mr. Lauren for finding a manufacturer of the requisite uniforms in China or anywhere else where a good deal could be struck is vile. That is just what he is supposed to do when he is contracted for a job like this one. When domestic politics focuses on such perverse issues, how far are we from instigating trade warfare? Senator Reid was sounding like the United States of America is at war with any nation in which there are firms that produce commodities that fulfill the needs of companies producing goods and services for American consumers. Next Senator Reid will call for declaring war on any country that doesn't fall in line with his standards of acceptable trading partnership. The Majority Leader went so far as to declare that the Olympic committee should "put [the uniforms] in a big pile and burn them." (And, by the way, this isn't a partisan issue – several Republicans joined Senator Reid in expressing hostility to freedom of trade, which made Mr. Lauren's decision possible.)

What kind of Neanderthals are these people who want to take this "buy only American" to such extremes? Not only is the idea absurd in the 21st century but it amounts to out and out bigotry. What is wrong with foreign working people who can produce perfectly acceptable uniforms for American Olympic athletes?

America is supposed to be a culture in which persons from every other culture are welcome to make contributions to science, athletics, fashion, etc., regardless of race or national origin. So what's with the Senate majority leader and other politicians who attempt to stir up bad blood based on an elementary cosmopolitan feature of commerce? Lay off the bigotry already! It is the source of the sentiments that used to lead to wars between countries.

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