GENTRY Not too long ago, I broke down and went into a local farm store to buy a new pair of work boots. I really didn't want to spend the money, but my old ones had holes in the soles and it was just unavoidable - they had been good boots and had carried me through rain and snow for more than a year and I had worn them just about every day.
Anyway, I went in and looked at all the boots and found a pair that I really liked, and they even fit well.
I just hate buying a pair of boots and then suffering for days while you get them broken in, so I wanted to buy a pair that felt comfortable from the start.
Well, I found a pair and was about as sure as a fellow can get about new boots that they would work out well. The fact that they were of the same brand and style as my old worn-out boots was a good indicator, I thought.
But then I looked at the little tag sowed there on the inside of the boot just to make sure I had a match - you know, two boots, a right and a left, of the same size - and I was shocked at what I saw.
Those cowboy boots with a nice-sounding and genuine American name were made in China!
That gave me second thoughts about my intended purchase. You see, I like to buy American-made goods whenever I can. I just hate to see my fellow Americans without work, and I don't want to contribute to our country's evergrowing trade deficit.
Who knows? If I buy foreign-made boots, some poor American might have to wear shoes with holes in the soles because I didn't buy American-made boots. I'd hate to do that to one of my own countrymen!
Anyway, thinking about the fact they were not made in America, I decided to put those new boots back in the box and put my old boots back on. I'd just have to stick to my good old American-made boots even if they were worn out and very thin in the soles - perhaps they could be resoled. But then I saw that little tag in my old boots - something I guess I had never looked at before. They were made in China, too!
I couldn't believe it. My cowboy boots were named after a town in Colorado. How could they be made in China?
Well, I did a little more research and found out that shoe companies, just like many other American companies can get their products made so much cheaper overseas or across our borders because of low labor costs that they ship the materials there and have the Chinese and other foreign nationals put them together and then ship them back here to sell to us. You might even say that American shoe companies have sold their soles to China and then bought them back again to sell to us.
Now, lest you get the idea that I don't like foreigners, I'll tell you that I bought the boots. I couldn't even find any other similar-style boots at my favorite farm store that were made in America!
I don't have anything against the Chinese people who made my boots. They need jobs and money to feed their families, too. I don't know if they even wear work boots or cowboy boots, but I don't want them to have holes in their soles either.
I don't really like the way their government keeps so much of the money they earn, and I hate to support such a regime. But then our government taxes us to death, too, and its getting harder and harder to feel good about supporting our own government and its ridiculous programs.
If it was our government's taxes and labor laws that caused the shoe companies to have their boots assembled in China - and I think it was - it doesn't appear anybody's learned anything from their mistakes.
Our government sold our soles to China, but our leaders haven't learned. They continue selling more and more of America to China and other foreign investors. In fact, when you look at all that's been sold to China as a result of our government's mismanagement of our tax dollars and its "fix-all" legislation, I suspect we've sold not only our soles to China, but our souls.
Given a little time and a little more financial leverage in America, countries like China may one day begin to out-source their low-paying jobs here.
I wonder if it could happen that cowboy boots sold in China one day have a tag inside that says made in America?
Opinion, Pages 4 on 09/30/2009