Rebuttal Argument – Brent Adkins

Shoes: The Ultimate Gift?

Feet allow humans to travel from one place to another.  Without feet, we require assistance in getting anywhere, whether it is through crutches, wheelchairs, or any other form of help.  So, when someone loses use of their feet, they become greatly impaired and lose many opportunities to advance in life.  This is even more true in impoverished areas where both walking and foot disease are more common.

In Africa, a disease called “podoconiosis” affects “hundreds of thousands of people,” as stated by Blake MyCoskie.  This disease comes from the silicone left in the soil by volcanic activity, seeping into the skin of the foot and breaking down the lymphatic system.  The disease resembles elephantiasis, swelling the feet greatly, immobilizing the affected.  The only way to prevent this is by wearing shoes, which means that shoes are the greatest gift you could give an African.

Shoes help prevent cuts and infections on the children’s feet, as well as let them attend school as shoes are required.  These are major steps towards a successful future for an African child.  So when African children receive shoes, they are given an opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their family members as well.  With this in mind, Blake MyCoskie founded TOMS.

TOMS shoes donates one pair of shoes, for every pair they sell, to a child in need in an impoverished area.  The shoes, however, are extremely flimsy and prone to falling apart within a matter of a few months.  They have thin soles which leave the wearers feet close to the ground, prone to get wet and stay wet along with the layer of canvas upper encasing their feet.  This leaves the user prone to water-borne foot diseases, and the low profile leaves part of the foot still prone to podoconiosis.  Consequently, this means that TOMS can cause just as much harm as no shoes at all.  TOMS could attempt to help the Africans in a better way though.

Foreign aid has left Africa with a weaker economy, dependent on donor assistance, and less promising for investors.  Al Jazeera’s The Stream, states that approximately one trillion dollars have been donated to Africa from wealthy countries through foreign aid, yet Africa’s real-capita income is lower than in the 1970’s.  TOMS contributes to this undermining, but could actually help the continent by relocating its factories to the continent.  Africa needs jobs, not charity, in order to lift itself out of poverty and stay that way, so if TOMS were to provide jobs to impoverished Africans, they could afford to buy their own things, including shoes, creating a perpetual cycle of progress.  TOMS is currently just a vehicle for “whites in shining armor,” but could become a real helping hand if it turned good intentions into successful aid.

Works Cited

“The Stream.” Stream.aljazeera.com. The Stream, 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.

MyCoskie, Blake. “Our Goal.” Toms.com. TOMS, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013.

Zimmerman, Mike. “The Business of Giving: TOMS Shoes.” Success.com. Success, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.

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2 Responses to Rebuttal Argument – Brent Adkins

  1. adkins70 says:

    Grade and feedback please.

  2. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Brent!
    P1. I enjoy that you made me contemplate humans without feet. Thank you for that. The language stumbles a little, if you’ll allow me the pun (what choice do you have?), getting assistance through crutches. Can you rephrase radically to eliminate this problem?

    Fails for grammar Rule 4.

    I wonder if this is the right approach at all, Brent. The “without feet” premise is odd. If you want, and you seem to, to focus our attention on the difference between our privilege and the deprivation of those who walk because they have no choice, why not just open with “For those of us who rarely take ten steps we can avoid . . . shoes are more fashion statement than mode of transportation . . . ” Like that?

    P2. I appreciate the citation, but I don’t think you need the quotation marks here, Brent. Whether you use them or not, we understand MyCoskie was not very specific about his numbers.

    An easy way to avoid failing for grammar Rule 12, the Banned 2nd Person, is to go passive: “the greatest gift an African can receive.”

    P3. For one child, you might say, “the child’s foot,” but since you haven’t named any group of children yet, it’s not right to say “the” children’s feet.

    It’s difficult to blend the grammar of a positive and a negative into one smooth series, Brent. Prevent cuts (negative) and Let attend (positive) are at war. I assume shoes are required by the schools to prevent spreading foot infections, right? Saying it that way makes it clear that shoes do both, prevent cuts and promote attendance.

    “Major steps,” really? Do they hit the ground running?

    You’ve handled your singulars and plurals nicely here.

    This is very mature argument here, Brent. Giving MyCoskie his due is critical to establishing your fairness and appreciation for an effort that you criticize elsewhere as flawed and even harmful. Good move.

    P4. wearers needs to be both plural and possessive.
    Too many “prone to”s
    This sounds suspiciously fast, Brent, as if you’re making too big a case of too little. That’s all the advice I have.

    P5. This huge claim would have to be supported by better evidence than the observation that income is lower despite aid. “has left” is not just a coincidental claim: it’s consequential. It means you’re saying the lower incomes are the result of foreign aid. I’m completely willing to believe that can be proved, but you still need to prove it.

    Your solution is certainly a good one. However, think how many companies, particularly apparel companies, have failed to truly improve the local economies where their clothes are made, in Bangladesh, for example, the world’s sewing center, where hundreds recently died in a sweatshop collapse after years of being overworked and underpaid in unsafe conditions.

    I’m not saying the good cannot be done, but TOMS would have a hard time selling its philanthropic message against world opinion that western clothiers continually exploit foreign labor.

    You’ve gained a lot of skills in these few weeks, Brent. No amount of improvement, though, will stop me from critiquing.
    Grade recorded.

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