Thursday, July 05, 2007

Americans fly the flag for July 4, as long as it’s not made in China

Americans fly the flag for July 4, as long as it’s not made in China
Tom Baldwin in Washington
From The Times
July 5, 2007

Stars and Stripes and the Statue of Liberty

This article provides a sobering insight into what is wrong with many Americans' understanding of America's values, especially on the Fourth of July, a day on which America's values ought to be more clearly understood than any.

If America stands for anything, it stands for the rights of the individual.

What are those rights?

Those rights are explicitly enumerated in many of the state constitutions. They are the right to "life, liberty, and property."

Rhode Island was the very first state to declare independence from the British Empire. As Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island, puts it:

"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property... "

A flag is a piece of colored fabric.

Americans fly these pieces of colored fabric on the Fourth of July to celebrate their hard-won right to life, liberty, and property.

If Americans do not have the right to use their own hard-earned money to purchase a piece of colored fabric, then hang that piece of fabric on a pole in their own front yard, then what has happened to those precious rights?

If Americans can be thrown in jail for 90 days or fined US$1,000,
merely because a piece of fabric that they purchased with their own money, and displayed in their own front yard, met with the disapproval of their "public servants," then what has happened to the very rights all those fluttering flags were meant to celebrate?

I can't be the only person who has noticed the irony, can I?

From The Times
July 5, 2007
Americans fly the flag for July 4, as long as it’s not made in China
Tom Baldwin in Washington

As if raising and waving millions of Stars and Stripes was not patriotic enough at Independence Day celebrations yesterday, the flags now have to be made in the US.

The state of Minnesota has taken the most draconian action, requiring all US flags sold in the state to be of American manufacture. Violations of the law, which comes into force at the end of the year, will be punished by a $1,000 (£495) fine or 90 days in jail.

From this month, schools and colleges in Arizona are being forced to equip every classroom with a US-made Stars and Stripes – sometimes known as “Old Glory”.

Tennessee state law already stipulates that any US flag bought with public money cannot be imported from another country, while similar Bills are being considered by legislators in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Such measures chime with the protectionist mood sweeping America. The Democrats, in particular, have become increasingly concerned about preserving manufacturing jobs that they believe are being destroyed by free trade and cheap foreign imports.

In this cause Old Glory has, as ever, emerged as a potent symbol. Last year Republicans failed by a single vote to get the two-thirds majority they needed in the US Senate for a constitutional amendment banning the burning of the flag.

The sponsor of the Minnesota legislation, the Democratic state congressman Tom Rukavina, said that his Bill was inspired by seeing flags made overseas during a memorial service for the victims of September 11, 2001.

Yesterday he was handing out 1,000 miniature flags – presumably US-made – at Independence Day parades in his district. “The biggest honour that you can give the flag is that it be made by American workers in the United States of America,” he said.

“Nothing is more embarrassing to me than a plastic flag made in China. This replica of freedom we so respect should be made in this country . . . I think this Bill is about jobs, jobs for Americans.”

His proposal was backed by fellow congressman Larry Howes, a descendant of Betsy Ross, the Revolutionary War seamstress who, according to American mythology, was instructed by George Washington to sew the first Stars and Stripes on to a piece of cloth. “It’s time to bring the flag home,” Mr Howes said.

Not surprisingly, the series of new laws is supported by the Flag Manufacturers’ Association of America. It has complained about a flood of US flags, valued at $5.3 million, imported mostly from China last year.

The Chinese, whose high-speed response to market demands has made US industry look leaden-footed in recent years, appear to have spotted a gap in the market after the 9/11 attacks. In 2000 America imported $748,000 of US flags, mostly from Taiwan [the Taiwan region of China]. In 2001, however, that figure rose to $51.7 million – mostly from China
[the mainland region of China].

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