Charlotte Hays

Although Ralph Lauren got rich selling the American Wasp image, Mr. Lauren’s vaguely creepy uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team are more suggestive of Paris's Left Bank Maoists than hearty American athletes. The berets were a huge mistake, Ralph.

The girls’ uniforms are even worse, shrieking, as they do, Lolita and looking as if they were designed for nubile stalking of Jean-Paul Sartre.

Still, has there ever been a more phony controversy than the current one over the Olympic team uniforms? The duds, as you can’t help knowing by now, were manufactured in China. The outrage was manufactured on Capitol Hill and in the opinion precincts. Usually, the opinion crowd likes sophisticated, foreign garb, but this being an election year, all bets are off.

Leading the charge against the Olympic uniforms, Senator Harry Reid, no stranger to burning American money, is so outraged that the top Democrat wants to stack the offending uniforms in a pile and light a match to them. Unfortunately, in this Keynesian approach to Olympic uniforms, Mr. Reid may have inadvertently revealed the shaky core of his economic philosophy. Senator Reid, it might further be noted, hasn't called for the destruction of the made-in-Canada bus behemoth in which the president tours the country.

Here’s what the outraged politicians and opiners need to understand: people decide whether to purchase a particular product based on a combination of price and quality. It is probably very easy to forget this in an economy that has become as phony as the outrage over the uniforms, with bailouts, regulations, and other government interventions that affect the price of a product so drastically that it is no longer a reliable source of information about its actual cost.

People who regard a Chevy Volt as a good investment of taxpayer money are probably sufficiently divorced from reality that it doesn’t occur to them that buyers of the Olympic uniforms might have been moved to ask, “How much is this going to cost me?”

The Olympic uniforms were bought from private contributions, and the people who donated the money have every reason to be cost-conscious. Taxpayers have a right to be cost-conscious, too, of course, but with money burners like Mr. Reid makingdecisions in Washington, we are more helpless than the committee that bought the Olympic uniforms.

Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.