The Olympics have gone smoothly despite -- gasp! -- America's team wearing clothing made in China at the opening ceremony.
"I'm so upset," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them. ... We have people in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs."
Here, Reid demonstrates economic cluelessness. It seems logical that Americans lose if American clothing is made overseas. But that's nonsense. First, it's no surprise the uniforms were made in China. Most clothing is. That's fine. It saves money. We invest the savings in other things, like the machines that Chinese factories buy and the trucks that ship the Olympic uniforms.
The Cato Institute's Daniel Ikenson's adds: "We design clothing here. We brand clothing here. We market and retail clothing. ... Chinese athletes arrived in London by U.S.-made aircraft, trained on U.S.-designed and -engineered equipment, wear U.S.-designed and -engineered footwear, having perfected their skills using U.S.-created technology." That's free trade. Trade makes us richer.
While making the clothes in America would employ some Americans, the excess cost would mean that the Olympic committee had less to spend on other products -- many of which are made in America.
Losing jobs like cutting, sewing and working on a loom is a sign of progress because working in factories is unpleasant. It's good for most Americans when factory jobs are replaced by engineering and design jobs. Art Carden, an economist from Samford University's Brock School of Business, explained that "one could argue that the American uniforms were not manufactured in China, but grown in the soybean field in Iowa. We export soybeans to China. Because we're incredibly productive in the soybean market, we get more uniforms at lower prices (and) the Chinese get more soybeans at lower prices. ... Everybody wins."
Contrary to protectionists like Sen. Reid, if we insisted that everything be made in America, we'd be poor.
There is so much that we think we know -- that is not so.
We're told that "overpopulation" is why countries are poor. But that's nonsense, too.
"The problem is not that there are too many people," Carden said. "The problem is that for the most part they don't have free markets."
Right. They have bad governments, kleptocracies that steal people's resources.