Thursday, August 17, 2006

Buy New Zealand campaign - racism by another name

Is there anything more stupid than a Buy New Zealand Made campaign?
It is about as clever as the Invercargill City Council advertising “shag a Southlander”, or Manukau City advertising “Buy Manukau Made”. It is saying “it is good because it is made in New Zealand”, not because of quality of the product, after sales service or price.
So is something is more expensive but NZ made, then you should buy it because it is better to do that than buy something else with the money you wasted on nationalism. It is better to buy something inferior because of nationalism.
It is racist because it is saying that products made by NZers are better than those made by foreigners in one respect – their origin.
No, it is not about economics. The childish theory of keeping money in the country is sheer nonsense. It is better to maximise utility – better to buy 3 pairs of socks for $3 than buy 1 pair, or better to buy one pair for $1 and spend $2 on something else you want. That is how we are better off. It is a concept the Greens and NZ First don’t understand because they are both xenophobic at heart – both hating “foreign investment” and suspicious of “foreign made” goods. The Greens because they see blind children stitching shoes, and NZ First because they see hard working Asians staying up late in the sweatshop looking determinedly like they want to fight another war by working harder and destroying “our jobs”.
Imagine if there was a “hire a New Zealander” campaign, “donate to New Zealand charities” campaign or a “make phone calls to New Zealanders” campaign – all could be justified on the basis of “keeping money at ‘ome”.
You might like supporting a local business because the owner is friendly, the product is good and you can guarantee quality, or maybe you are always able to find someone who can help you. However, if you take this to its logical conclusion, you'll go to the most local shop to buy your groceries, because it is a "local person" living in "your community", and you should "support" them.
My advice is simple. Buy what you want from whoever sells you it for the best deal, wherever in the world that seller is. Judge products on overall quality and price - remember, odds are that the New Zealand business owner is as likely as you are to want to spend profits on buying an ipod, a holiday to Europe, a new car or new clothes. You don't benefit from shortchanging your choice by applying anti-foreign bigotry to it.


Sarah said...

Hi there,

We need some help! My daughters debating team are stuck! They are on the negative and the moot is "Buy N.Z made, we've got it made". We would so be grateful for anymore points you could offer!!!

libertyscott said...

Well off the top of my head:
1. Buying something because of where it is made, instead of price and quality means you are getting less for your money. You could have spent the difference on something else, giving YOU more utility and helping employ others.
2. People should reward whoever gives them the best deal, not whoever overcharges or delivers poorer quality. Why reward a local producer who is not as good as a foreign one? Do we want a world where second best is what we aim for?
3. National borders are artificial. Why not Buy North Island, Buy Auckland made, buy Takapuna made, buy Esmonde Rd made, or only consume what you make yourself? Well think about it, you COULD become self sufficient and not spend money on anything others make, but your standard of living would be low. People make money by focusing on what they are good doing, and some people make things better and cheaper outside NZ than within NZ.
4. The notion that buying NZ made creates jobs in NZ is vastly exagerrated. For example, the NZ producer may simply spend the proceeds on buying imports or on overseas travel. Good on them, but the money from buying NZ made does not necessarily circulate locally.
5. Trade makes the world a richer place. North Korea is the perfect example of a country that has as its official philosophy self sufficiency (called Juche). It is destitute, and only exports arms, drugs and some minerals. South Korea is trade oriented, open and the average South Korean has fifteen times the income of a North Korean. Can there be a more stark example of how economic nationalism fails?

Fundamentally "buy NZ made" is childish and naive, it ignores fundamental economics as outlined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations and David Ricardo, about comparative advantage. Some countries are good at producing some goods and services, others are good at others - they all are better off by specialising and producing what they are good at and trading. Anything different means you are wasting money buying something inferior because of nationalism, which is, fundamentally, racist.

Hope that helps!

Sarah said...

Hey! Thankyou so much!! I will print this out and pass it onto my daughter and her debate team. Great points!!! Thankyou for your time!!! and effort!