My New Shoes

By Carolyn Westmoreland

I went shopping yesterday. Usually, I buy used things to replace the worn out items I need. Important too is to try not to buy new items that indicate by tags or markings the outsourcing of jobs from the US. Anyway, my list was short, shoes and some food items. Pretty simple right?

While looking for shoes, I toured four different shops. On every pair I picked up to examine I found a mark, or tag, that said, "Made in China." In the fourth shop I found a pair I liked and after inspecting them and not finding any tag or stamp on them telling me where they were made, except for the soles, I bought them. When I got home I looked again, and inside I found a little tag listing the materials used and one microscopic line saying that they were made in China. I had to get out a magnifying glass to read it. I thought about returning them, and then realized that I had already spent precious gas and time in order to buy them. Returning them would simply add to the enormous expense that these shoes already represent. The soles of these shoes have a mark on them saying that they were made in the US. That means the soles of these shoes were shipped to China to be attached. The shoes, with the soles attached, then made another long journey back to the US, using polluting fuel, and the people who labored in making them were probably not paid a living wage.

That tag, "Made in China" always tells me that thousands of people here in the US no longer have employment making whatever the tag is attached to, whether shoes, clothes, electronic goods, etc., other than selling or distributing whatever that item might be. .

OK, I realize that these shoes may be a real bore to read about and I know that my small purchase will not make much difference one way or another, but did I tell you that they only cost ten dollars plus tax? A real bargain? When I consider what went into making these shoes, the energy consumed by unnecessary transportation, the domestic jobs lost, and the inhuman social system being supported, the fact remains that they are the most expensive pair of shoes I have ever owned.

What I am concerned about is the fact that this kind of business-as-usual should not be happening and cannot be sustained. We are destroying both our society and our planet. The corporate media does not keep us informed about the slave labor or the pollution that corporations leaves in their wake, all to satisfy corporate greed. We are told that we must think in terms of a global economy. While I agree that sharing information, music, art, and science on a global basis is one of the best things to happen for all of us, that is where globalization stops for me. Using the resources and the cheap labor of other countries while becoming a consumer-only economy here in the US will not work. Oil holds our economy up, and with a scarcity of oil on our horizon we must come to terms with providing for ourselves in our own communities, using our own talents, and our own resources.

Does anyone out there make shoes? It would be a pleasure to hear from you!

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