Dick Smith Foods is at risk of closing down.
The not quite-iconic Australian brand has seen sales halve and its future is cloudy. But Aussies are voting with their feet. They are happy to buy from overseas.
Is this bad? Shouldn’t we buy Australian?
I say buy it if the quality or price is good. But not if you have to trade off price or quality. I think this is an example of how global markets are actually a powerful force for good. Let me explain.
I like to think of myself as socially aware. But I take a Rawlsian approach to social justice. I think support is wasted unless it is aimed at the worst off. The very rich giving money to the merely rich is not really charity, in my view.
This is why I support the charity rating system Givewell. And also why I support global trade.
Trade with poor countries helps people who might otherwise live on $1 day, while buying Australian might be the difference between someone driving a car and catching the bus. Trade has helped 1 billion people move out of poverty in the last 20 years. Those people aren’t under our nose, so its easy to forget about them when you’re considering whether to buy jeans made in China or jeans made in Australia.
The only reason to value the welfare of Australians above those of foreigners is unexamined subconscious bias. I think that bias should be brought into the open and tested for how it impacts our actions and how our actions impact the lives of others.
Here’s a little argument I got involved in online today, in response to someone noting that their crumbed fish fillets had been caught in NZ, crumbed in China and sold in Australia.:
A: Apparently that is cheaper than just doing everything in the same country
B: Oh nooooo, that would be more jobs for our people, and we’d have to pay them gasp!
Me: “our people”
There will come a time when economic nationalism will seem as racist as traditional nationalism. To my eyes, Buy Australian is about as sensible as Fuck Off We’re Full.
Why? Because trade is extremely beneficial. Trade has lifted more people out of poverty in the last 30 years (China, I’m talking about) than all aid programs ever.
I’m sorry if this sounds rude and you’re probably not the most deserving target for this rant, but I feel like it needs to be said more.
C: Get back to us on this when you’re a gen Y uni graduate with no job, work experience or any connections.
Me: Get back to us on this when you’re the first ever literate person born to a former farming family in Shandong province. Put another way, does our empathy stretch beyond our race? Beyond our national borders? And if not, why not?
So, Do you buy Australian? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.