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From Catherine B.

by on February 7, 2013

From Catherine B.

This is only about 20 minutes, so worth the time and provides a decent critique or at least a reason to further think through the ecological modernization theory and the role of corporations in promoting social causes. Thanks Catherine!

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  1. There is an interesting contradiction with the owner of Tom’s ethos behind the company. In the podcast, the owner is quoted when he mentions that when you wear Toms it’s a sort of personal expression and one gets to tell a story about the good they have done when they wear them. However, in the bible (as I learned in my Catholic middle school), it also states that when you do a good deed you should not flaunt it. The passage is in Matthew and it stresses that you should never flaunt your good deeds because you are just looking for praise from others but God already knows the deed that you have done.
    Furthermore, beyond this concern over image, this podcast also brings to light a very central flaw in thinking when people deal with world problems. Many “solutions” to natural disasters or other problems like economic disparity tend to temporarily put a band-aid on the situation and not deal with the root of the problem. Toms can actually hurt local economies where shoes can be bought or make the people dependant on outside donors instead of helping to mitigate the root problem of people not having shoes (i.e. poverty).
    This is a classic problem when the donors work for and not with the people who need the receiving. This issue reminded me of something we spoke about in class. After Katrina, celebrities like Brad Pitt came in and offered solutions they saw fit. Brad Pitt, like others, never gave the people who needed help the chance to verbalize what they really need.

  2. Going off of Danny’s point, I noticed that in Blake’s statement about why people wear his shoes, he seemed to reveal a central issue behind his company. People wear his shoes, he says, in order to portray that they care about helping others that are less fortunate than themselves. So instead of buying the product in order to donatie to a cause that actually helps people, consumers buy a product that they can physically flaunt to demonstrate how “humanitarian” they are. I think this is dangerous because as long as that product is trending in fashion, people will buy and “donate” without being completely informed about what the company is actually doing for these people. This can be seen in Tom’s Shoes, as these kids often don’t need or want the shoes that are given to them. Shouldn’t the money go to something more useful for these children?

    Honestly, I know I fell victim to the enchantment of the “buy one give one” concept. Initially when the article was describing the company, I was excited. I kept thinking that this was a great thing: somebody was making capitalism work for charity. I kept thinking, “Hey, if he was on Ellen, he must be legitimate, right?” However, the article quickly revealed the many flaws in the company’s model, including lack of sustainability and the “white knight” issue, and I realized how easily I was convinced by the supposed mission statement of the company. I guess its a lesson learned from this experience.

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