Dick by name….

Australia is home to a gentleman called Dick Smith. He owns an eponymous chain of electronics’ stores where one can purchase all manner of flat screen TVs, music systems, white goods and other devices.

To the best of our knowledge, practically none of these devices are manufactured domestically. Like most western economies, Australia used to manufacture TVs and radios but the availability of cheaper and better quality imports from its northern neighbours in Asia hastened the decline of the industry.

Dick Smith has personally benefited greatly from this destruction of the local industry.

Imagine our surprise therefore that he feels the need to berate an overseas supermarket chain from copying his successful model but in the grocery sector.

Apparently, the management of Aldi are morally reprehensible for providing good quality imported food products at a lower price than can be produced domestically.

Ponder that for a moment. Now look at the brand of phone, tablet or PC on which you are reading this. Where was it made? Korea?

Now look at the label in your shirt or dress. Was it tailored domestically? Unlikely.

What should be done about this?

Bill’s Opinion

Dick Smith is typical of most Australian “entrepreneurs” in as much that, once he has made his fortune, he sees no reason to feel shame about lobbying and making public statements to pull the ladder up and prevent others from following his example.

His competitor, Gerry Harvey, is another example of this syndrome, campaigning for the federal government to impose the 10% General Sales Tax on low value overseas internet purchases, despite the fact that this will incur a net cost to the taxpayer.

“Capitalism” is a much maligned noun these days but consider whether there really is that much of it about. Certainly the people who often are pointed at as being “capitalist” are no such thing. Dick and Gerry have more in common with the mercantilists of the 16th century than Adam Smith or Ayn Rand.

6 Replies to “Dick by name….”

  1. ” He owns an eponymous chain of electronics’ stores where one can purchase all manner of flat screen TVs, music systems, white goods and other devices.”

    Sorry Dick Smith hasn’t owned an eponymous chain of electronic’s stores since 1982. Back then they weren’t selling all manner of flat screen TVs, music systems and white goods. Most of his ventures since that time have been mostly philanthropic in nature. Other than that, I do agree that he doth protest a little too much about Aldi.

    1. Ah, thanks for the correction.

      Presumably he made his fortune selling Stylophones and telephone answering machines then!

  2. I worked on a smelter with a metallurgist named Richard Head. For some reason his first name was never abbreviated.

    1. Something about metal workers? My school metalwork teacher (I’m sure there’s a modern name for that subject) was James Riddle.

  3. Further to Graham’s comment above, I have very positive memories of learning electronics from Dick’s little kits in the late 70’s and I guess the early 80’s. Made all sorts of interesting stuff. Him selling out was big news at the time and he was always like the strange uncle at the party after that – supporting jingoistic causes etc. But generally harmless and mostly with his own money.

    I do suspect that most of the kit components were imported, but wasn’t really paying attention at the time given I was under 10, so his current stance may be hypocritical. I think he was into CB radios and similar stuff when that was big, but it all fell away quickly.

    Funnily enough I was part of a team that had a fair bit to do with the business under the Anchorage ownership (from a safe distance) before it collapsed into a cloud of supplier rebates for their purchasing team. Happily, we got out with only a small loss.

    1. A similar-aged relative of mine built a retro arcade machine recently using a Raspberry Pi and components off the Internet. He only went to a physical shop for the little parts he had us planned ahead for.
      Great fun smashing my previous high score on Galaga without having to shovel coins in!

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