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.


  1. I agree with this blog

    I think Gerry Harvey has such a weird voice he should seek a speach pathologist, should be able to afford that.

    Mr Harvey and the like are these fabulouse Aust. baby boomers that have shafted the next generations.

  2. Well argued rational post.

    It is no doubt going to change, I can not see traditional bricks and mortar retails stores surviving. Not with overseas retailers able to compete and good luck trying to slap a GST on every incoming good. Customs can check less than 2% of container for clear and present dangers. You think they are going to get the resources to check for my copy of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare.

    And for me its not about the money. I'd be willing to pay extra to buy online from retail here, but you just don't carry the stuff I want.

    Instead of paying these corporate genius big wads of folding for coming up with the brilliant 'lets get the government to slap a big tax on it, that they can never enforce" why don't you pay mega buck to people who can come up with an idea how to reconfigure the way retail and distribution works in this country.

  3. All true. These were the desperate Learesque rantings of a man who can't comprehend that his archaic business model, now rejected by the people, can't then be enforced upon them. GST would not make the most marginal difference to most peoples' online purchasing habits. Particularly if it cost the govt more to implement and collect than it'd gain, which appears pretty clear. Harvey and friends have had 10 years to see the change in the wind and get their online shite sorted and they've failed dismally. I ain't paying for their lack of business nous.

  4. Well said. From my little outpost of Devonport, I have to buy online if I want anything of quality or variety.

  5. Hear hear sir! Funny how, as I write, Gerry has decided to back out of his loud and shrill calls for GST on goods bought online....funny that.

    Oh, you will be pleased to know that one of my correspondents (whom I should meet in the next while) is a distant relative of Gerry's. He is also an ex-serviceman, infantry to be precise, and can be an angry man. He intends to tear strips off Gerry when next their paths cross. Verbally if he is sober, more physically if he has had a few fizzy drinks.


  7. Thank you for the clear headed and rational blog, unlike most of us, when thinking about this little sad man most of the population tend to become somewhat passionate shall we say?
    I believe he has probably done more damage to in-house retail in Australia than anything else in it's history. His reputation will forever be tarnished with his comments from this time, I hope he can deal with the fact that no matter what else he has done in his life, all he will be remembered for is a few dark days when the majority of Australia disliked him to such an extent.

  8. Well, amen to that.

    I grew up a small-town Midwesterner here in Seppoland. And a lot of what you described as 'an indelible part of the Australian cultural heritage' is the same here. Used to be, nearly every town had some industry, and a guy could make, if not a great living, at least a decent one, working at the local factory or store. Now a lot of those places are gone, and I rather doubt they're coming back.

    I do have to say something to defend a sector of business owners that I think get overlooked-the small business owner. The guy who has a business that employs anywhere from 5-50 people, and the backbone of our economy in good times.

    I've always worked at small companies, where you know the owner and the people running the place. They don't live way above the level of their employees. They aren't afraid to jump in when a job needs to get done, and they work late when the rest of us go home.

    Entrepreneurs that start companies should get enough of a break in taxes and regulations so they can confidently expand and hire people and grow their markets. As a benefit, those newly hired workers will help grow the local economies.

    Unfortunately, I think enterprising people get the pincer squash by government and big globals, neither of which have leaders who could do a good job running a hot dog stand at a World Series game.

    Too often I read people who should know better rail on 'evil business' when a lot of businesspeople get the shaft nearly as bad as Joe Average.

    Well. That didn't have much to do with your topic-but I feel better for the rant. I shall now fold up my soapbox and leave it for everyone else to debate what appears to be a local issue.

  9. Nicely put.
    I seem to remember that a couple of the big retailers did try selling via the web a few years ago and failed. Probably because they couldn't figure out what sort of muzak to play on their login windows. When I first heard Harvey's rant on the radio I turned a few shades of red and yelled at the radio. The hypocrisy is astounding. None of us really give a flying fuck about his cry baby pleas, he's drowning in an economic tar pit which he once thought was a swimming pool built only for he and his friends.

  10. Damn straight. This guy is repulsive. I really like Ruslan Kogan (although ultimately a self interested Capitalist himself, he at least has a new twist on things). I came across when I was trying to find a netbook with Linux pre-installed. Kogan is one of the largest (or at least the most aggressive) of the dogs biting Gerry Harvey on his grotesquely over-paid arse.

  11. Yeah - Fk him. I don't recall anyone feeling sorry for me when Australian publishing industry got sucked up by a handful of global ubergreedheads leaving me no margin and no where to sell small run lit fic to.

    SO, if you do run into him, pass on a few fruity comments form me too.

  12. Eloquently put,

    FK THE TOOL and his archaic fkn muppet headed ideas, talk about a stone age businessman.

    THEN!...THEN we get to his fkn REAL ARSE FKD , I really cannot stand dick head cohort. SOLLY BABY.

    Thats in the BOND cat as far as I am concerned, I would not trust that fkr as far as I could throw the prick. THATS actually one you would punch in the head..assuming it was not illegal. Its a corporate rapist, in the sense of FKING OVER JOE PUBLIC.

    Think TESNA, ETIKIT and YANNON, now lets add GST1K to this pair of fkn muppets too!.

  13. Cat D - you have my sympathies... even though Devonport is practically the Big Apple compared to my place! I know what you mean.

    YD: I'm as sympathetic as you to the small guy, and at least where I live, they have something to offer me -- they are HERE. Doing their best. If I can buy a thing from one of my local small retailers for a reasonable price, I will do so.

    But you know the funny thing about my local small businesses? If they haven't got what I need, and I explain to them what I'm after, they will do their damnedest to help me get it. Between that and the after-sales assistance, I believe the extra margins are well and truly justified.

    Gerry Harvey's got nuthin'. Except an overgrown sense of entitlement.