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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Flying Old Glory In Ohio: Retailers Could Be Jailed For Selling Foreign-Made U.S. Flags

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Five female state senators have filed a bill that makes it a crime to sell foreign-made U.S. and Ohio flags in the state. The lawmakers are following in the footsteps of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who introduced the "Genuine American Flag Act" in June 2003 while serving as an Ohio congressman. His bill went nowhere. Under the proposed state law, violators would face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for selling a flag made in a foreign factory. The measure declares it a misdemeanor of the third degree "to sell or offer for sale the United States flag or the state of Ohio flag unless the flag is manufactured in the United States."

Sen. Joy Padgett, R-Coshocton, is the sponsor of SB 316, the foreign flag ban. Her cosponsors are: Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard; Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo; Shirley Smith, D-Cleveland, and Sue Morano, D-Lorain. The Flag Manufacturers Association of America has ban supporting similar legislation for years. It is a trade group that considers it unpatriotic to fly U.S. flags imported from other nations, including China. The Ohio bill doesn't mention China. But it clearly seems pointed at that nation, which is resented in Midwest manufacturing states for gobbling up the region's factory jobs and undermining the economy. Last year, Minnesota adopted a measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tom Rukavina that prohibits the sale of imported U.S. flags in that state. Rukavina told reporters:

"The biggest honor that you can give the flag is that it be made by American workers in the United States of America. Nothing is more embarrassing to me that than a plastic flag made in China. This replica of freedom we so respect should be made in this country."

Tennessee requires that state-purchased flags be U.S. made, and Arizona says flags in its school classrooms must be domestically manufactured. The debate over foreign-made flags has been around since soon after 9/11 when Americans began flying flags after the terrorists attacks and flag sales moved into record territory. Some $52 million worth of U.S. flags were imported.

Salon, the online magazine, said in 2001 that many of the flags came from overseas sweatshops:

"But what, exactly, are we supporting when we buy flags? Well, for starters, a repressive communist regime intent on denying its own citizens the freedom for which the American flag supposedly stands. America's flags, until now, have been made largely at home by the kind of ma-and-pa industry that makes the nation great. Most are family businesses that have stitched Old Glory with care since the Civil War."


  1. I see the principle behind the idea, but where would it stop?

  2. Ben --

    Great question. No answer. One person I know just suggested that the Ohio Senate bill be amended to require the burning of all foreign-made U.S. flags. Hmmm . . . By the way, federal law already mandates that imported flags be labeled with their nation of origin. Thus, a flag made in China says that it was manufactured in China. I think there are flags on sale in the Statehouse gift shop. Wonder where they are made? And the flags that fly over the Capitol and Statehouse - where do they come from? Does anybody have any idea?

  3. Ridiculous. Don't get me wrong I'd like them to be made in the U.S. However, it is BS for some elected fools to make it illegal to buy one made somewhere else. More evidence for my argument that they (legislators) should have normal full time jobs and meet as little as possible. Because they have turned a representative position into a full time job they come up with BS like this to prove they are earning their excessive salary. This is a problem at the state and federal level.

  4. It's an absurdity against any last precept of capitalism we have. Arizona's law is reasonable -- as the state does have the right to govern what it buys for its property -- but, really? This is absurd. The sale of American flags is not illegal, nor is it governed by federal law, and, though increasing rules and regulations against foreign imports seems to be the norm these days, I think that this particular move seems to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. Don't we want American flags around the world? Or, is there, perhaps, a concern that these people in low paying jobs in foreign countries may develop a resentment against the country they are making flags for but is barely paying them???

    Also, Mr. Bellwether, what is the significance of it being "five female senators?"

  5. I don't see anything wrong with this proposal. My hometown makes US flags right here in Ohio.
    It's about time we stopped shipping everything manufactured out of the country and letting everyone and their brother into this country. Keep jobs in America and keep AMERICANS employed.
    What I find absurd is having to "press 1 for English" when calling a company or having to choose English at an ATM.