Dispatches from the Creation Wars

I Always Wondered Where Those Things Went

For every big sporting event, like the Super Bowl and the NCAA championship, both teams have their championship t-shirts and hats and such printed up in advance so they can haul them out immediately after their victory. But what happens to the championship gear for the losing team? Turns out they’re giving them to the impoverished in the third world. That’s great for them, they get clothing they badly need. But it’s kinda weird that we’re creating little alternate realities all around the world. Millions of children around the world will grow up thinking that the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2008, that Ohio State won the last two BCS championships and that Lebron James won his first NBA title in 2007.


  1. #1 Timothy Sandefur
    February 18, 2008

    The free clothing is called salaula, (http://books.google.com/books?id=x_OMXECLeDgC&pg=PP1&dq=salaula&sig=VIQfivgZ26f8mFqVHmN_XkI-Ufo) and it’s actually rather controversial.

    A few years ago, African econmist James Shikwati urged westerners to stop sending such aid to Africa because it deters economic development: (http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,363663,00.html)

    Normally, I would reject such arguments for reasons expressed here (http://www.mises.org/story/1543) but there is something to be said for it: that is, if the African clothing market is flooded, that will require local tailors to learn new trades, and that’s often easier said than done. And given the awful trade barriers that separate African countries, that’s particularly the case. (Only something like 10 percent of trade in Africa is within Africa.) Ideally, Africans could shift their attention to producing something else instead, but that isn’t always so easy. Free stuff is almost always a good thing, but there can be some downsides to it.

    Be that as it may, Shikwati was absolutely right to say “Africa, however, must take the first steps into modernity on its own. There must be a change in mentality. We have to stop perceiving ourselves as beggars.”

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