New Balance is lobbying the Pentagon to force members of the military to buy only New Balance shoes. The reason? Because New Balance assembles its shoes in America.
From the excellent blog The Consumerist:
Army and Air Force recruits get a stipend to buy their own footwear from any company they want, while the Navy requires recruits to only buy New Balance, which assembles its shoes in the U.S. New Balance wants every part of the military to be like the Navy, and has been lobbying the Pentagon, along with the American shoe industry, to change the rules for years.
New Balance points to a 1941 statute called the Berry Amendment, which requires the Pentagon to buy its food, clothing, and other items from U.S. producers.
This is ridiculous. The Pentagon isn’t buying the shoes, the service members are buying their shoes. The silly outdated 1941 law doesn’t apply. What’s next, will Coors try to get the Pentagon to stop service members from buying Guinness? Coors makes its crappy beer in Colorado, reportedly from John Elway’s used bath water. Guinness brews its beer in Ireland. If New Balance can misuse an old law like the Berry Amendment, then so can Coors.
New Balance is a terrible company. It sees a large group of young men and women who volunteered to serve their country in the armed forces, and instead of respecting their sacrifices, they hire lobbyists to take away their choice in running shoes. If service members aren’t buying your shoes, make better shoes.
When I joined the Air Force years ago, I was told to bring my own running shoes. I bought a good pair of Nikes and I was glad a I did. Even though we only wore running shoes during physical training, I took the inserts out of my Nikes and put them in my combat boots. We marched everywhere we went, all day long. The boots they issued were really uncomfortable. As soon as I put my running shoe’s inserts in my boots, it didn’t hurt to march. So many people in my flight had foot problems, blisters and things. Not me. My size 15 feet were perfectly fine.
I’ll never buy a pair of New Balance again. I like some of their throwback retro shoes, but now that I know they are lobbying to take away a service member’s right to buy the running shoe that’s right for them, they’re dead to me.