Remember my water bottle dilemma? My over-thinking is back, but this time with shoes.
(Update on the water bottle dilemma: I did get a new klean kanteen, I’ve been using my old sigg as a night stand caraffe, cause I figure a couple sips of bpa-laden water at night won’t kill me, one bottle has been turned into an car emergency kit, one has gone to Goodwill, and I will see my sister next week to return her bottle.)
I have a pair of Sperry loafers which I absolutely love. They are so comfortable, easy to slip on, look half-way decent with anything.
Mine don’t quite look like that anymore, and multiple comments from friends and family have led me to believe that my beloved Sperrys are past their prime. They’ve survived a good four (five? I forget), three states, and many adventures. Unfortunately, they look like they have too. So before people start refusing to be seen with me in public while wearing them, I’ve decided it’s time to look for a new summer slip on shoe.
This doesn’t mean I’ll be relinquishing my Sperrys. In fact, even just writing this makes me want to buy another pair. But they ain’t cheap. So, I’ve had my eye on another shoe recently.
TOMS shoes, in fact.
They are about half the price of Sperrys, and reviews from my sister ensure me that they are also super comfortable and durable (though I’ve heard mixed reviews from people on the latter front.
So here we have pros: 1) Have zoo animals on the inside, 2) comfortable, 3) cheaper than Sperrys, 4) slip ons that maybe you should, but don’t have to, wear socks with, 5) TOMS donates one pair of shoes for every one sold to children in disadvantaged countries.
Cons: 1) I hate buying stuff, 2) questionable attractiveness, 3) I would be inching ever closer to hipster-dom, 4) They aren’t free (though what is?) 5) TOMS donates one pair of shoes for every one sold to children in disadvantaged countries.
Wait what??? # 5 is is a pro AND a con? How can that be?
I have this ongoing debate with international aid, be it medical aid, food aid, or shoe aid. Is it helping or is it really hurting?
In my little anthropological circle, people tend to be big fans of talking about how international aid actually hurts developing countries. One example is of how USAid rice shipped to Haiti not only has put local rice farmers out of business, but is also a contributor to diabetes. Some suggest that foreign aid is really a more modern form of colonialism, giving money, exerting control over how it is spent, and promoting reliance on the developed country.
I get all this, but truthfully, I just don’t like it.
It’s like that little parable about how one day all these babies started floating down a river in baskets (like Moses.) The whole town came out to fish babies out of the river. But no one ever suggested going upstream to see where these babies were coming from in the first place.
My problem with this is – if everyone goes to help stop the flow of babies (yeah weird, I didn’t come up with it), then a bunch of babies are gonna get lost in the meantime. I feel the same way about aid. If we decide to take a hands off approach, let countries develop their own economies, then a lot of people are gonna suffer in the meantime.
So buying a pair of TOMS, and then sending a pair to a child in a developing country would mean that the local shoe market might be damaged. If that kiddo doesn’t get a pair of shoes, they might not buy one from that local shoemaker, and go without, thereby increasing their chances of injury or catching an infectious disease.
Maybe a hands-off approach would help economies develop without being artificially propped up, but on the other hand, many countries are in their situation in the first place due to the economic and political policies of western countries.
Do we owe it to developed countries to help make things right? Or should we just stop getting involved? I don’t know. I’m still conflicted, but buying a pair of shoes from any other company wouldn’t do much good either. I’m gonna end up buying a new pair of shoes from some where, so hopefully this will be the lesser of evils. (The other evil be the profits just go to some greedy corporation who is making shoes in a sweatshop). I’ll probably buy the shoes, and pray that they help a kid out.
What are your feelings on international aid? Do you have a pair of TOMS? What do you think of them?