On Veterans Day, many Americans drape the Stars and Stripes around their neighborhoods, businesses promote U.S. flags alongside their holiday discounts, and officials display them in government buildings.
The holiday started off as a day to honor those who fought in the “war to end all wars” and marked the armistice that ended hostilities on Nov. 11 exactly a century ago. And today Americans wave flags to commemorate all veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces.
Recently, while walking by a VFW Post dutifully displaying a U.S. flag, I read a newspaper headline about the president’s latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods. The juxtaposition of seeing the flag and the headline made me wonder, how many of those star-spangled banners actually come from China? And if so, are they being hit with the tariffs too?
You may be surprised at the answers – I certainly was.
Made in China
Every shipment of imports brought into the U.S includes a detailed invoice that shows the price, quantity and category of goods being imported, as well as any tariff that’s been applied. The national flag of the United States even gets its own code: 6307909825.
The invoices show that in 2017 the U.S. imported 10 million American flags. Of those, all but 50,000 came from China.
These imports represent just a tiny fraction of the estimated 150 million U.S. flags Americans buy each year. Nevertheless, 10 million is still a large number for a national symbol.
The typical flag made in China is not the giant banner waving over car dealerships, town halls and fast-food restaurants. Instead, they’re the small ones you and your friends might wave at a Veterans Day parade. The average imported Chinese flag costs the importer only 56 cents, without including any tariffs, and weighs about two and a half ounces.
An ‘all-American’ flag
That so many Americans flags come from China seems incongruous to some, suggesting that this fact somehow undermines its patriotic symbolism.
As a result, a long list of bipartisan members of the House introduced the “All-American Flag Act” in June 2017. The bill would require all flags purchased by the federal government to be manufactured entirely in the United States using only raw materials that were grown, produced and manufactured domestically.
While the legislation did not make it out of committee, it is not from lack of trying. Similar bills have been introduced in every Congress since 2003.
Since the legislation only affects federal purchases – estimated at over 100,000 a year – there would likely be little impact on the number of flags imported.
But given President Donald Trump’s efforts to get more citizens to buy American products, I thought it would be only natural that he would include the national flag on the list of Chinese imports being hit with tariffs.
The tariffs are 10 percent as of Sept. 24 and will rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1. The full list of items subject to tariff contains thousands of product categories, from anchovies to zinc products.
What the list doesn’t include is American flags.
A way to make the tariffs less painful
I am an economist and generally favor free trade because of the benefits I and many other parts of society receive.
The tariffs have divided Americans and businesses about whether they’re a good thing. While some support them, others are suffering because of the rising costs of raw materials or the higher prices at the cash register.
I have a simple suggestion. Instead of putting punitive tariffs on a very large list of products, let’s instead put the tariffs on a much smaller list of important items, such as steel, which China is accused of dumping. Let’s also put tariffs on items tied to national defense, plus a few symbolic goods, like flags.
This would ensure most of the benefits of free trade are maintained, while the president is able to conduct a policy that doesn’t hurt as many U.S. businesses yet telegraphs to China and other countries that they’ll have to change their behavior.
As a result, the act of waving a flag on Veterans Day to honor the men and women who keep the U.S. free will be doubly patriotic.
Trump has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace RBG on the Supreme Court: NYT
President Donald Trump is to announce on Saturday that he will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.
"President Trump has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the favorite candidate of conservatives, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and will try to force Senate confirmation before Election Day in a move that would significantly alter the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court for years," New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker reported Friday.
"Mr. Trump plans to announce on Saturday that she is his choice, according to people close to the process who asked not to be identified disclosing the decision in advance. The president met with Judge Barrett at the White House this week and came away impressed with a jurist that leading conservatives told him would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice who died in 2016 and for whom Judge Barrett clerked," the newspaper explained.
Lincoln Project drops new ad targeting ‘hypocritical Republican Senators’ pushing Trump’s SCOTUS pick
The anti-Trump Republican PAC Lincoln Project dropped a new ad this Friday, this time targeting President Trump's upcoming announcement of his pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the "hypocritical Republican Senators who have vowed to push Trump’s nomination through the Senate before the next president can be sworn in."
"The 60-second ad 'The Choice' condemns Republican Senators for tearing the country apart in their unending quest for power and position. It admonishes their unchecked power in their attempt to remake America in Trump’s image," the group said on its website.
Trump argues BLM protests are ‘destroying many Black lives’: ‘It’s really hurting the black community’
Speaking before a "Black Voices for Trump Coalition" rally in Atlanta, President Donald Trump lashed out at Americans who have protested police violence against Black Americans.
"Many of those who are spreading violence in our cities are supporters of an organization called Black Lives Matter or BLM," Trump said, despite the fact Black Lives Matter is not an organization, just the ideology that police shouldn't murder Black people.
The crowd at the "Black Voices for Trump Coalition" booed at the mention of BLM.
"It's really hurting the Black community," Trump said of protests against police killing Black citizens.