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What a flub

Jul 13, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

How is it that the USA's Olympic outfits are being made in China?

The nominations for Dimwit Move of the Year have been announced, and there is an early favorite for the prize.

Who, in heaven's name, was the genius who decided that the uniforms the United State of America's Olympic team will wear later this month at the London games would have a "Made in China" tag on them?

Your eyes do not deceive. Team USA's Olympic uniforms are being made in China.

What, there wasn't a factory in Malaysia that could do the job? Were Singapore's textile shops all booked up?

Everyone knows that American manufacturing has taken a beating over the past 30 years as factories have been shuttered and jobs outsourced overseas, where there are still plenty of workers who'll sign on for $7 a day with no bathroom breaks. Most of the manufactured goods we Americans consume at our world-leading rate come from shops in other countries.

But our Olympic uniforms? As first reported Thursday, the beret, dark blazer, white shirt, dark necktie and white pants that will be worn by Riverton's Brett Newlin and the other American team members during the opening ceremonies in London will be designed by Ralph Lauren, an American company, but made in a Chinese factory.

Olympic officials quickly tried to justify the public-relations disaster by praising Ralph Lauren's sponsorship of the Olympics and noting how much more expensive the clothing would have been had it been manufactured in the United States.

Wrong answer on both counts. No one is criticizing Ralph Lauren for being an Olympic sponsor. It's wonderful. But this is not about sponsorship. It's about using American workers and equipment to makes America's Olympic outfits, no matter who is sponsoring the team.

Similarly, the cost of the clothing, which is worn by a relatively small group of people once every four years is a non-issue. Want to cut costs while still using U.S. manufacturing? Negotiate a lower prices with Ralph Lauren, or the factory. Or eliminate the necktie. Surely there was a way to avoid the embarrassment.

This is not the end of the world. Sometimes too much can be made of symbolic flag-waving, or the lack of it, for political gain. There are times when it seems that the primary qualifier for national office is which candidate is the fastest to put hand over heart or who has the biggest flag lapel pin. This election year will be full of that stuff.But even if the superficial patriotism gets overplayed sometimes, it doesn't seem too much to assume -- and require -- that once every four years the Team USA Olympic garb at least be made on our shores.

Ralph Lauren is free to make money from lower-cost production in China if it so desires. The celebrated "global economy" sees cross-border buying, selling, hiring and manufacturing all the time. In most cases consumers neither know nor care.

But this is different. If the U.S. Olympic committee doesn't know that, then it deserves the gold medal for intellectual denseness, or perhaps a simpler synonym for it.

Wear red for CBT

The memorial service for venerable Ranger news staffer Carolyn B. Tyler is at 10 a.m. Monday, July 16, in the big sanctuary at Riverton's United Methodist Church.

Those in attendance are encouraged to wear something red.Regular readers of CBT's column know of her devotion to the University of Nebraska football team. Carolyn was a Nebraska graduate with a degree in journalism. She was a strong supporter of the Wyoming Cowboys as well, but at funeral time it's the Cornhuskers who will be the focus, at least in terms of the color theme.

It needn't be a bright red dress or crimson polyester slacks, but even a tie, a scarf, a shirt or a hair band in her favorite color would show kind concern to her loved ones, who have made the request.

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