While it may seem odd to think the American flags flown over government buildings could be made anywhere but the U.S., about $4 million in star-spangled banners were imported from overseas in 2013, according to the Flag Manufacturers Association of America (FMAA).
The figure for American flag imports may soon change, however, as Florida’s House of Representatives recently passed HB 225 that, if also passed by Florida’s Senate, would mandate that flags purchased by the state’s governmental entities would need to be 100 percent domestic.
Under the bill, appropriately named the All-American Flag Act, all U.S. and state flags purchased by state, county or municipality government bodies must be made in the U.S. with materials that are “grown, produced, and manufactured in the United States.”
While current federal law demands that 50 percent of an American flag’s materials must be made in the U.S., and, according to the Huffington Post, legislation banned flags made in China from the U.S. military in 2014, no federal law has been successfully passed that requires the stars and stripes to be manufactured completely in the U.S.
The fact that a flag representing the U.S. or one of its states could be produced in another country is strange for a number of reasons. Above all else, flying a foreign-made U.S. flag above an institution of the U.S. government, of all places, could be seen as rather unpatriotic and even ironic, especially considering the combination of red, white and blue is arguably one of the most powerful symbols of the nation.
Importing Old Glory from other countries is also an odd decision economically. While the two Florida representatives who voted against the bill argued it was anti-capitalistic and a “wasteful spending of tax dollars,” according to a Tampa Bay Times article, spending money on domestic flags might be a better long-term decision.
Flags made in the country are generally more expensive than ones bought overseas, but how much money is being spent on flags may not be the most important issue. The representatives’ argument fails to consider where the money is being spent.
As reported by the FMAA in the same 2013 report, the dollar value of U.S. flags exported to other countries was $781,222, while the U.S. imported about $4 million in flags. This created a difference of over $3 million, which added to the nation’s ever-growing trade deficit.
Instead of spending so much on foreign trade, this money could have been spent buying domestic flags to secure jobs for American flag-making businesses and keeping more money in the nation’s economy.
Hopefully, Florida’s Senate will vote positively on the bill, which will add Florida to a list of states, including Minnesota and Tennessee, helping to preserve the American flag in its role as a great symbol of the nation and keeping American flags made in America.
Russell Nay is a freshman majoring in mass communications.