Uniform Nonsense

by Don Boudreaux on July 16, 2012

in Adam Smith, Trade

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

You eloquently expose the silliness of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s attempt to force U.S. Olympic uniforms to be stitched together in America (“The Imports of Patriots,” July 16).  I write “stitched together in America” rather than “made in America” for a reason.  As you suggest, the 2012 U.S. Olympic uniforms are labeled “Made in China” simply because workers in China supplied the relatively low-valued-added service of stitching together inputs from all over the globe – including from America – into their final form as Olympic sportswear.  The unfortunate convention of identifying the country of final assembly as the country in which a good is “Made in” masks the fact that nearly all goods today are “Made Everywhere on Earth.”*

More to the point, Adam Smith long ago warned against absurd martinets such as Sen. Schumer: “The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”**

Shame on anyone foolish enough to fall for Sen. Schumer’s demagoguery.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* See the important 2009 study by Dan Ikenson, “Made on Earth.

** Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), Book IV, Chapter 2, paragraph 10.

The always-eloquent Scott Lincicome chimes in here.

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