An Economic Riddle

Okay, I need an answer.

I noticed the other day at the bike shop where I work that most of the bicycle tires we sell are made in Taiwan. A few more expensive, well-made tires are made in France. A cheap bicycle tire — a Taiwanese one — sells for $15, while a French-made tire might sell for $30 (or even $60).

(These are the tires I put on my bike, also fairly expensive, but not made in Germany. Made in China or South Korea, I think, according to the German company’s specifications. They rock as far as bicycle tires go.)

Granted, the per-capita GDPs of France and Taiwan are fairly close — $30,000 and $26,000 respectively — while per-capita GDP in the US is roughly $42,000. (Do you make that?) But isn’t France supposed to be all, like, uncompetitive, unproductive, the stuff of modern economic evil, a dustbin-bound nation of lazy workers attached to their summer holidays and their socialized medicine? And yet, why can something as simple as a bicycle tire still get manufactured in France but not here in the United States?