Thursday, January 6, 2011
Dear Gerry Harvey
Dear Gerry Harvey
It's really quite simple.
During the Keating era, and then at length through the pain of the Howard governments, we came to accept that the Australian manufacturing industry was going to be restructured. That with our rates of pay, we really weren't competitive with China, Taiwan, Thailand, and other countries where people are prepared to work a 12 hour day for two cups of rice and a handful of bean shoots.
We didn't like it, but we have learned to live with it.
We fell back on mining, and on agri-business. The latter is a bit of a bummer, by the way. Big corporate farms that sell to bigger processing corporations which deal with truly enormous distribution firms leave no room for the family-owned farms that are indelibly part of the Australian cultural image. And frankly, mining has always been a hard, hard business for the people who actually dig stuff up and process it.
But we did it. And we accepted it. We accepted it because we were told again and again and again that we were part of a global market, that we had to reduce protectionism, that we had to compete with other producers around the world.
Of course, the other side of that painful coin is the pay-off: the reasonably priced merchandise sourced from all those countries around the world which have a surplus of skilled labor. Cheap-ass televisions and DVDs and phones and computers from China, and Thailand, and Taiwan and so forth. That's the quid pro quo. That's the payback. As consumers, we get access to those goodies because we accepted the pain, and allowed our manufacturing industries to outsource the living hell out of everyone and everything.
So... near as I can tell, Gerry, you and your rich-ass corporate vendor buddies are trying to say something like: "Dear me, no. Of course you can't buy things cheaply! That would undercut our traditional Australin retail model, and deny me and my fat-bastard friends our traditional corporate retail profits!"
Please do feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, Gerry. But from what I can see, a whole lot of people I know and value had to change their lives drastically so this country could 'compete' in the 'global marketplace'. And the 'reward' for that lies, in theory, in our capacity to access cheaply made and moderately priced goods from this selfsame 'global marketplace'.
Only you want us to suck it up, keep paying you and your rich-prick buddies a superpremium because... uhh... because... uhh... well, just because you deserve it!
You know what, Gerry? I live out in the country. If I stick to local vendors, I can't get interesting DVDs. Or interesting music. Or interesting books. If I want to buy furniture or electrical shit from your nearest store, I've got over an hour's driving to do first. And then, of course, I have to pay your people a delivery fee to ship it here.
Even then, you never carry the things I want. Computer with Linux pre-installed? From Harvey Norman? You're joking, right? The staff at HN can't even spell Linux, because they're NOT ALLOWED.
So, to sum up: you want me to go on living out here in the boonies, contributing materially to the support and ongoing welfare of this nation in the various ways that I do. You want me to live in this town where globalisation has killed the vegetable processing plant and both goddam sawmills. You want me to watch people pack up and leave homes their families have held for generations because the global market forces have taken their jobs away... but at the same time, you expect me to keep paying anywhere up to five times the going market value for the kind of stuff that you sell -- and you expect me to purchase only the limited range of crap that you have for sale?
(And meanwhile, you don't give to charities because they only encourage the no-hopers, right? Yeah, Gerry, I read that one too.)
I have some words for you, Gerry Harvey. They're not nice ones at all, and I'll reserve them for now. But if you and I should ever encounter one another in person, I promise to deliver those words to you in clear and painstaking detail.
Count on it, you miserable, tight-fisted, un-Australian piece of crap.