Manufacturing in China (laying aside for a moment its abysmal human-rights record) seems to say one of two things: 1) America is so inept we can't produce quality apparel, or 2) America is so poor we can't pay for what it would cost to have it Made in America.
Both are absolutely untrue. Americans can do it, and at a reasonable cost. An occasional series on Diane Sawyer's "World News" has been proving that for months.
An unreported sidelight: Although USOC and Ralph Lauren have been carpetbombed for the ceremonial attire, the ugly truth is that almost every piece of sporting goods worn by American athletes — shorts, shirts, shoes — is also produced overseas.
I called the USOC, which produced a statement that evaded the issue I raised. That apparel could be made in the USA and probably for about the same as it would cost to manufacture abroad. (Late Friday, the USOC announced apparel for the 2014 Olympics would be produced domestically.)
And if Made in USA does cost a little more — so what? I'm willing to spend a little more to keep my neighbors employed and to keep U.S. greenbacks here.
Does that make me a nativist? A xenophobe?
China's economic growth rate is triple ours, and we owe China too much money to count. I don't want to add to the trade imbalance. Do you?
Since where to manufacture was a Ralph Lauren decision, I contacted the company, got no response, but elsewhere found a cheesily generic statement that evaded the issue of outsourcing our national pride.
I am surprised because Ralph Lauren could almost be my twin — well, older brother, anyway. We were both born in the Bronx and moved up from there. (He was born Ralph Lipschitz. I kept my unpronounceable last name.) We're both Jewish, descended from hardworking immigrants from czarist or communist Russia, a/k/a hell. We both played stickball and rode the subways. We attended high schools that were archrivals. We attended free-tuition New York City colleges before they evolved into the City University. He's worth about $6 billion, I'm … OK, we are not identical, but Ralph is a Bronx guy, and I wonder how he could be so wrong.
How could he not get it — that manufacturing Team USA in a country that half owns us and has wrecked the domestic-garment industry would be like choking on a chicken bone? There's something like 600,000 American textile workers looking for jobs.
I don't know if it's too late to reverse the decision — I asked both the USOC and Lauren that question and got no reply. I have enough confidence in American manufacturers to think we could get it done in a week. Am I a flag-waver? Yes, and I want even that flag to be made in the USA.
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