I normally refrain from commenting on the domestic vs Asian manufacturing issue on this blog for two reasons;

  1. The focus here is on tech, not hard goods
  2. Given my ownership of a domestically manufacturing business I’m reluctant to whine

But this morning I can’t resist. I read Icebreaker, the former New Zealand manufacturer of merino clothing, has presented at a rural environmental conference talking up it’s own policies. Apparently it will only buy fibre from farmers that meet minimum standards of care for their sheep and farm dogs, minimum food levels and the like. This all sounded great (hey my own sheep are treated the same way sitting in a paddock about 100metres from where I type this), until I read the last paragraph;

He defended Icebreaker manufacturing its product in China, saying the technology there was far better than what was available in New Zealand for large-scale production.

So the way I see it, this is business prepared to be ethical in situations where it can coerce ethics out of its suppliers (and assumedly at no cost to themselves) but when that extends to manufacturing in a country without mass environmental and social abuse, that preparedness somehow dissipates.

I liken it to the legion of people who drive their 4litre SUVs down to the cafe just so they can order free-trade coffee.

It’s why this world is in the dire situation it currently is – utter self-interest and token gestures that do nothing but thrust our own responsibilities onto others.

Right – rant over – back to the tech….

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Well said – good rant.

  • dude thats so true – you should stop going on about geek stuff on your blog and keep ranting about stuff like this

    that jeremy moon guy needs to have his nuts removed and sent over to china to be turned into eco hacky sacs in an ethical factory

  • “He defended Icebreaker manufacturing its product in China, saying the technology there was far better than what was available in New Zealand for large-scale production.”

    Theres a good reason for why theres far better manufacturing infrastructure in China compared to here.

    Its because unlike the moronic cretins who dictate economic policy in New Zealand, the Chinese, like every country ahead of us in OECD rankings, they recognise that there are considerable benefits to cooperation between government and business, rather a conviction that the relationship must be hostile and adversial.

    What really annoys me about the neoliberals is that they deliberately use misrepresentative information in their economic arguments in order that they back up there claims.

    For example that they claim that low taxation is responsible for the economic growth of Ireland, whilst neglecting to mention that Ireland’s preferential access to the European market can hardly be construed as free trade (which was very attractive to transnational corporations, because it gave them tariff free access to other European countries), the development grants it received from other European nations on the basis that it had one of the least developed economies in the bloc when it joined, that it has a highly skilled and qualified workforce due to the fact it provides free tertiary education etc.

    I think those conditions would explain Ireland’s explosive economic growth a little better than mere low taxation, don’t you think?

    I wonder if they actually believe the BS they spout or do you think its politically motivated?

    Thats my rant.

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