But let me start even more broadly, with a trend in charity organizations that many in my field of studies rally against. Recently, it's become common for groups to sell merchandise or specialized products to provide aid for certain causes. Those wary of commercial culture, commodity fetishism, and conspicuous consumption (buying stuff to show off social status and economic power) dislike the use of products to promote causes, for a variety reasons.
the TOMS campaign...misses the fundamental point that not having a pair of shoes (or a shirt, christmas toy, etc.) is not a problem about not having shoes. It’s a problem of poverty. Shoelessness, such as it is, is a symptom of a much bigger and more complex problem. And while donating a pair of shoes helps shoelessness, it does not help poverty.... on a big-picture level, TOMS (and other buy-my-product-and-donate companies) are busy building the exploitative global structure that produces economic inequality, while on the other hand pretending that supporting them actually does something to fix it.