HIGHTOWER: Save the Wooden Clogs

As kids, we read about the "Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" and about "The Little Engine that Could." Well now, from Holland, comes "The Little Old Shoe that Could."I'm talking about the simple and sturdy Dutch Clog -- the long lasting, hardworking wooden shoe that's been around the Netherlands for at least six centuries. Ah, but now that the Netherlands and all of Europe have combined into the European Union, everything from currencies to shoes must conform to common standards.We're talking bureaucrats here. Bureaucrats who obviously never stepped foot in a Dutch work clog. According to an AP report, these conformity police were considering a decree that would declare clogs as substandard footwear, effectively outlawing them in the European workplace.Of course, Dutch clog-makers kicked-up a ruckus, demanding that the "Eurocrats," as they're known, kindly butt-out and leave 600 years of tradition alone. But an even more powerful force stepped forward in this footwear fray: the clog-wearers. Indeed, thousands of farmers, factory workers, fishermen, road repairmen and others prefer the venerable clogs to more modern work boots, and they did not want to switch.Yes, said the Eurocrats, but are clogs safe? To answer that question, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research was called forward to run a battery of tests on the old shoe. As reported by AP, lab technicians bashed these shoes with a mechanical 45-pound hammer, compressed them with 1-ton weights to simulate being run over by a car, pierced their soles with nails, submerged them in water, baked them in ovens at 300 degrees and froze them to minus 20 degrees.The result: The Little Old Shoe that Could matched or outperformed modern-day, steel-toe factory boots in every test [Hip-hip Hooray with cheers]!This is Jim Hightower saying ... I love a romantic ending!Source: "Dutch clogs get stamp of approval from EU." Associated Press: Nov. 14,1997.

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