July 4th special: Does China own Independence Day?

Americans are happy to spend as we mark the patriotic day, but it's not necessarily U.S. companies that should be celebrating.

By Minyanville.com Jul 1, 2013 4:48PM

Image: Close-up of a burning sparkler © IMAGEMORE Co., Ltd., Imagemore, Getty ImagesYou have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.
-- Erma Bombeck

As humorist Erma Bombeck mused in that quote, the way we’ve expressed national pride on the Fourth of July has morphed over the years from ceremonious shows of military might on Pennsylvania Avenue to casual barbeques in the backyard. But whether we chose to honor this 237th birthday in a martial or merry way  -- with the exception of the potato salad and the flies -- little is left of the holiday that’s authentically American.

Much like the other 364 days of the year, July 4 finds the American dollar going to products and goods made in China. But what adds a special sting to this particular day is its ironic dependence on a foreign country to commemorate our autonomy.

Starting with the very hallmark of the holiday -- the emblem of our freedom, the subject of our national anthem, that gallantly streaming symbol to which we pledge our allegiance, an object so sacred that its public desecration is a misdemeanor offense -- the American flag, well...isn’t.

Of the $3.6 million worth of stars and stripes imported every year to the US, $3.3 million worth comes from China. They flutter, not just over our front porches, but over our government buildings -- even the federal ones. The farming out of our flags has become so pervasive that the House of Representatives is trying to pass a law requiring the feds to keep purchases strictly domestic.

Going down the holiday shopping list, those disposable dishes, utensils, cups, napkins, and tablecloths are largely outsourced to China -- squaring with the U.S. trade deficit totaling $62 billion in paper, plastic, and wood products to the country. And if Congress allows the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, Inc. (SFD), to be purchased by Shuanghui International, the Chinese will be processing our hot dogs for next year’s Independence Day cookout -- right atop our Chinese-made outdoor grills.

For some Fourth of July fun, American families will no doubt participate in one of our favorite national pastimes, but playing catch with a Rawlings (JAH) minor league or consumer baseball is another home run for Chinese manufacturing. Tossing the Frisbee? That American cultural touchstone -- along with the Hula-Hoop, Silly String, and the Slip 'N Slide -- hasn’t belonged to Wham-O since the iconic toy company was bought out by Hong Kong group Cornerstone Overseas Investments Ltd. in 2006.

When the sun goes down, our "great anniversary Festival," as John Adams called it, is capped off with "Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” Macy’s (M) annual televised extravaganza is still homegrown by California-based Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, but fireworks from China -- despite their failure to pass U.S. safety controls -- are making record profits for the country’s manufacturers. In 2011, Chinese pyrotechnics were the overwhelming majority of all American-imported fireworks at $223.6 million out of a total of $232.5 million.

Perhaps we should return to celebrating the Declaration of Independence with the pomp of military parades. Well, not only are Chinese factories churning out our service members’ uniforms, but defense contractors like Raytheon (RTN), L-3 Communications (LLL), Boeing (BA), and Lockheed Martin (LMT) are making our weapons with Chinese parts -- and counterfeit ones at that.

And when the U.S. markets open the morning after, it might be events in China that will determine how well our S&P 500 (SPX) performs -- as recent history has taught us.

If we don’t like it, we can always go cry to our George Washington bobble-heads -- courtesy of you-know-who.

More from Minyanville

Jul 1, 2013 5:36PM
I don't plan to celebrate July 4, 2013 in any special way other than maybe eating a watermelon.  The fourth of July is just the day between the third and the fifth.  Happens every month.  Independence Day has become so commercialized, like Christmas.  I don't plan to buy any fireworks, stay up late to watch fireworks or go anyplace away to spend money.  I do not feel we, as citizens, are "free" nor "independent."  I don''t see the government as being protective of its' citizens anymore.  I see the government now as being the new Washinton Taliban.  The 7 Billion dollars promised Africa would stretch around the earth 26 times or stack to 474 miles.  And, we had no say! All this while FEMA denies aid to Americans suffering losses.  Nothing to celebrate this year for me!
Independence Day? Sounds like the US, is dependent on China, and far from independent. Thanks for nothing, to the corrupt politicians that let this happen.
Jul 1, 2013 5:58PM
yes, it is very sad that the spineless cowards in Washington care more for illegals and votes and any way to line their pockets than they do for this once great country. my father and 400,000 other brave souls that died in WWII are turning over in their graves,because of what we have allowed to happen
Jul 1, 2013 6:04PM

Thanks DC and corporations for selling out America. Though until we stand together again as a people and cast aside these small trivial matters and focus on the big picture nothing will change. We can make a difference and still have time but only if we truly want to. Start holding those in office accountable again and make sure they know who it is they really work for and you will see real change. Sure times change and I wouldn't expect us to go back to the days were everything is 100% made here, won't happen, but we certainly can and should do better. No reason we can't have more choices when we purchase something to choose between America or China.

I think its time

Jul 1, 2013 6:58PM
Its our fault the people of the USA to let China own us.  Wal-Mart was a big push to out source to China or companies were forced to buy it as cheap as they could.  Our government sat back and watched and Fat CEO's look for big profits to line their pockets. China will buy up every thing they can and want because they have our money to do it with.  Then cheap labor from Mexico and other South American  countries took what was left.  We will never have unemployment below 7%.  There is just not any jobs to go around. The so called clean energy jobs that has been promised will never happen. We are no longer a strong economic country third world country... not yet but going in that direction. In the end times the USA is not even a player.
Jul 1, 2013 8:03PM
The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and “Thou shalt not lie” in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.
Jul 1, 2013 6:30PM
your smithfield foods hot dogs are going to be cut with dog and horse meat you can bet.  if I know something is made in or by china I don't buy it - especially food.  filthy creatures. 

when I can't get around it (computers, electronics, etc.) I at least go years and years before I break down and buy them.  you can bet there will be no smithfield "food" products in my house.  I only buy from my butcher so I know what I'm getting.
Jul 1, 2013 6:40PM
I had to smile when I saw a red, white and blue decoration labeled a "patriotic bow" at Walgreen's. That's right...in much smaller print, it said Made in China.
Jul 1, 2013 7:19PM
I don't wave a flag made by communist china, that is why I don't fly and American flag and won't until we get our country back! This country is not the country I was born in or was raised in nothing about this country is part of the moral fabric of the 50's and 60's.  They can take that communist made flag and stick it where the sun don't shine.
Jul 1, 2013 8:08PM
Best stop bad mouthing the Chinese, they may foreclose on the white house and all the other US properties they own.
Jul 1, 2013 7:37PM
It all started when the crook Nixon opened up China for all the greedy American Corps. and it snowballed into this mess were in today. Most of the politicians from both parties sold there own country down the river by allowing all the manufacturing jobs go overseas! Yet the politicians are the first ones too wave that Chinese made flag if something bad happens that threatens there big business buddies interests. They just send our poor and ever so shrinking middle class kids off to protect the rich guys  company's around the world. Can you say term limits!!!!

Apparently, we have a foreigner promoting more Communist giveaways and demise of us dba the USA! 

4th of July if you know American history was by Real Americans--not elevated TRAITORS nor writers to insult US Citizens of Generations and our dead.

  Blow yourself up...on a faulty rocket!

Jul 1, 2013 7:54PM
If someone was to make fireworks to sell for the 4th of July in this country, they would most likely get arrested!
Jul 1, 2013 9:17PM
We have a president that spending 100 million on vacation, congress does not seem to be doing much about bringing jobs back from china, I always look on the product to see where its made, most of the time its made in china, but sometimes things are still made here.
Jul 1, 2013 7:44PM
Funny how we still have an embaro with Cuba, yet we embrace China with open arms.....
Jul 1, 2013 7:28PM
i have been saying all along  -  we are going to he** in a handbasket -  the US is financially bound to another power (at least). The good old USA, protector of freedom and steadfast in our commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is gone - too bad, at least we had a taste of true independence for a couple hundred years or so     today is ?????? 
Jul 1, 2013 11:25PM

After reading a lot of this, I just want to roll up in a ball like a Pill bug and die.


Yes many American Flags are still made in America..***

And some places still make fireworks, or some people do; You have to be licensed as such..

***edited***for Olympus Flag and Banner; Milwaukee,WI.

"Serving The Industry Since 1893"

Jul 1, 2013 7:01PM
The Republicans couldn't wait to sell the country to the highest bidder.
Jul 2, 2013 8:21AM
Don't like your taxes? VOTE!  
Don't like who is running the country? VOTE!  
Don't like the way the country is being run? VOTE!  
Want your job back from China?  VOTE!  
Want something done about all the illegals taking the jobs? VOTE!
If you don't VOTE, you have NO room to complain
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