I, Flag

You know it’s coming, but from election to election it’s hard to tell what form the protectionist panic will take. Will we fret over Japanese buying American property or selling us their cars? Will we worry about China’s economy eclipsing ours, about Indians taking our jobs, or Spaniards building our roads? Perhaps the ’08 election will bring us more of this this:

Minnesota has passed … a new law that goes into effect at year’s end requiring every Old Glory sold in state stores to be domestically produced. Violations are a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. In Arizona, schools and public colleges were required starting July 1 to outfit every classroom from junior high up with a made-in-the-USA flag. Tennessee requires all U.S. flags bought via state contract to be made here, and similar bills are moving forward in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

But how can concerned citizens be sure the flags they fly haven’t been made by foreign hands in faraway lands? Enter the Flag Manufacturers Association of America: “the association created a certification program two years ago that bestows a seal-of-approval to flags made with domestic fibers and labor. ” Leonard Read’s classic I, Pencil, is relevant yet again. And the essay should give consumers pause. Can the FMAA’s seal ensure that flags are really, truly “American”? Checking on the labor seems pretty easy, but what about the dyes, what about the machines and instruments used to make the flags? Related: i, Pod Related: Remember the Port Panic?