Are Crocs the next great American export? John McCain suggested as much at a town hall meeting in Denver yesterday, according to Christopher Beam's blog at

Beam writes: "McCain highlighted the American footwear company Crocs—you know, the colorful rubber shoes with holes in them—as an example of how free trade benefits American business."

"This former small business now employs 600 people in Colorado alone, and sells over 50 percent of its products in 90 countries around the world," McCain said. "Building barriers to Crocs or any American company's access to foreign markets will have a devastating effect on our economy and jobs, and the prosperity of American families."

But as Beam notes, trade is a two-way street, and that's where things get complicated. In fact, Crocs itself has forcefully used trade barriers based on intellectual property law to keep rivals out of the U.S. market. Two years ago, the company successfully blocked imports of Crocs-like shoes made in China and Canada.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But instead of showing how simple matters of trade are, McCain's selection of Crocs as a poster-child actually seems to underscore the fact that we, as a society, want free trade—but with some important conditions imposed.

Related reading: To learn more about Crocs, check out "My First Million: The Sale That Changed It All" from the May issue of the magazine. Here's the link.