Yes, it’s true. The uniforms the athletes will be wearing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London to represent the United States of America were manufactured in China. This fact is causing a huge outcry across the nation, and it didn’t go unnoticed by Congress. Harry Reid has already called for all of the uniforms to be gathered up and burnt. But is this a sign of the times for America?
The outsourcing of work to China has long been a rallying point for the “Made in the USA” movement. After all, we are a nation with a bit of an unemployment problem, and a huge percentage of jobs that were lost were in the manufacturing industry. Companies finding that they can save money by contracting out the work to China have left many Americans with a bad taste in their mouth and a hole in their wallets. Now, this latest revelation may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
So who made this decision? Well, the committee that decides such things gave Ralph Lauren the contract to create the Olympic uniforms for Team USA. We would like to think that this would be an honor and a privilege to be the company that is tasked with creating the articles of clothing our athletes don to compete on the world’s grandest stage. But for Ralph Lauren, business is business. They found that they could save money by having the uniforms made in China, and they did not hesitate to make the move. Now, they may have a little egg on their face, and the Olympic Committee is taking major fire for their role in letting this happen.
The argument is simple, at first glance. American home-grown athletes will compete in the Olympics, and it makes sense that their uniforms, which will no doubt be iconic in their own right, should be home-grown as well. However, let’s play the other side of the fence for a moment. This is America, the nation of capitalism. Ralph Lauren made a business decision to save money and increase profits. Isn’t that the American way? Or are there some instances where profitability should take a backseat to reverence to the nation and its people?
The Senate is already banding together to introduce a bill next week that will require Olympic garments in the future to be made in America, no matter what company gets the contract to create them. But even this has the stink of hypocrisy (yes, I know we love that word around here). Think about all of the laws that get stalled out for months. Think of all the unemployment problems, the deficit, the budget. These things take YEARS to pass even one part of Congress, and yet, as we have said many times before at Common Sense Conspiracy, when they really want to do something, they can do it fast.
The law, which is almost certain to pass, won’t really come into play for two more years when the Winter Olympics are held. However, Congress is leaning hard on the Olympic Committee to “do the right thing” and get the uniforms made in the USA for this round anyway. But now the opening ceremonies are so close that it might be a stretch to think they could pull this off even if they wanted to. Maybe they could double-time it by getting some unemployed Americans to help out.
For the record, the Olympic Committee has said that it stands behind its contract with Ralph Lauren, which it pointed out is an American company. It also referenced the fact that the Olympics are privately funded in America. This means that corporate sponsors foot the bill, not taxpayers. Many other countries earmark taxpayer money to finance their participation, but America, the home of capitalism, relies on private donations from companies in exchange for the noblest of advertising.
So, what do you think? Is this a travesty, or just “the American way” at work? We want to hear what you think.