Legend has it that a group of Native Americans agreed to sell the entire island of Manhattan in exchange for nothing more than 24 dollars worth of beads. I don’t know if that legend is true, but I do know that a U.S. Senator from New York is repeating the legend’s folly, selling out American jobs for the sake of nothing more than baubles.
Last week, Senator Charles Schumer introduced two bills, S. 2454 and S. 2455, to reduce the import fees on imitation jewelry eearings, necklaces and bracelets. The lowered import fees will result in lost American jobs, because imitation jewelry made cheaply in foreign sweatshops where working conditions are unsafe, pay is absurdly low, and environmental regulations are nonexistent or ignored, can easily undercut made-in-the-USA costume jewelry manufactured under ethical conditions. Senator Schumer’s bills reward corporations that outsource jobs to abusive factories set up under autocratic regimes.
The usual justification for legislation of this type is economic necessity. We’re told that the imported items are vital for the economic security of our nation.
I can’t imagine anyone making that kind of case for costume jewelry. There’s no overarching national interest that is served by having gaudy fake gems available at low low prices on earings, necklaces and bracelets. If Americans had to pay a little more money for imitation jewelry, because import loopholes were closed, there would be no great crisis. If anything, people might dress themselves a little more tastefully.
Senator Schumer loves to talk about the need to pass legislation that will create American jobs, but here he is, introducing legislation that discourages American manufacturing – for the sake of glittery false gemstones. He ought to be ashamed of himself, and he ought to tell the voters of New York what corporate interest group encouraged him to bring this ridiculous legislation to the floor of the U.S. Senate.