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Aussies mull ethical market signal

Written By: - Date published: 11:25 am, June 27th, 2010 - 10 comments
Categories: Environment, workers' rights - Tags:

The Aussies are currently investigating the creation of an ethical quality mark which would be provided to products from supply chains free of labour, environment and animal exploitation.

The recommendation is:

A new Australian Ethical Quality Mark should be devised, with a budget allocation of $8 million, to reflect the incorporation of defined ethical standards relating to labour conditions, animal welfare and environmental sustainability in TCF production and supply chains. This will enhance consumer choice and confer competitive advantage on firms that achieve certification.

Of course nobody ever shopped their way to a revolution but any move that helps ameliorate the impact of capitalism on the vulnerable is a good idea.

It’s also an idea that New Zealand should adopt when (if?) the Australians do because, while environmentally friendly products are getting easier to find, it’s becoming harder and harder to find labour-friendly stuff – especially since the demise of the superb No Sweat store.

10 comments on “Aussies mull ethical market signal ”

  1. hellonearthis 1

    Nice, that would help hi-light product that our 40c/hr prisoners are making.

  2. Croc 2

    Interesting that Australian Ethical Investment screens out 90% of the Australian market. It really goes to show how bad the situation is.

    I would of course support a new labeling system as long as it is strict enough to maintain its credibility. Other “green” labeling systems such as MSC have become increasingly dubious over the years as they change the rules to include products that are very clearly not “green” or sweat shop free.

  3. Bill 3

    Maybe a label that signifies ‘less’ (not ‘no’) exploitation of labour and the environment and animals is a good thing for the conscience of the ‘better off’ shopper.

    But who gets to administer the regime that determines the eligibility of a particular product or service?

    And how would it square with the likes of child labour in India where the alternative is utter destitution?

    And why should capitalism get to save face and middle class consumers get to feel good about themselves? What exactly is there that is ethical about capitalism? Whatisface’s film…Moore…’Capitalism: A Love Story’.

    Hated the analysis, despised the conclusion although I can see how it might appeal better to a less politicised, less engaged audience than a straight up class/gender/race analysis.

    Anyway, according to Moore, capitalism is evil.

    And it would seem that the ethical label thingy might agree with that take on matters while it seeks to suggest that ‘No. Capitalism is not necessarily evil. Capitalism can be a force for good with happy workers and smiling animals and twittering birds in the breeze and…a veritable Wonka chocolate factory fantasy.

    Why not get down to basics and legislate that goods must be of a grade and standard that eliminates inbuilt obsolescence?

    That way, all workers are potentially exploited less as consumer goods cease having to be endlessly remanufactured…(fewer working hours, more leisure time?) : the environment gets less of a hammering as it becomes unnecessary to continually mine, drill, fell or slaughter it for new raw materials for industrial processes that merely satisfy a manufactured consumer demand. And I’m not suggesting such a move would be ethical, just bloody good for all concerned….except the share holder and the socio-pathic seeker of profit. But then, we’re not too concerned about them, are we?

    • A Post With Me In It 3.1

      Anyway, according to Moore, capitalism is evil
      I would say his position would be more along the lines of “unchecked capatalism leads almost always to evil”.
      To which I would whole heartedly agree and there are so many examples of this that it does not even beg mentioning.
      In the US that is effectively what they have more or less so of course things will be skewed towards the evil side. In NZ it would be less so.

      But straw men burn better….

      • Bill 3.1.1

        Whatever you might think his position is, he states again and again that Capitalism is evil. Not that the management of it leads to unfortunate, unintended and evil consequences.

        All that aside. What’s with the ‘straw men burn better’ nonsense?

        Moore’s ‘evil’ prognosis is only brought up by me in relation to this idea of ‘ethical’ consumerism. Doesn’t ‘ethical’ signpost an acceptance of a good/evil dichotomy?

        That I don’t buy into the ‘evil’ argument ’cause it’s inadequate as an analysis and disempowering with regards citizens looking to do something about this fucking mess we’re in, means that the window dressing of ‘ethical’ consumption should be challenged, seen for what it is and something more effective and meaningful proposed.

        Which is what I tried to do.

        • A Post With Me In It

          I think trying to resolve anything complex to absolutes is stupid. Most of the time the people doing this are simply trying to make a problem/topic simple enough for pea brains to handle without steam coming out their ears, rather than actually believing it is that simple.

          MM does this quite often and I agree that he does tend to use hyperbole a lot. I have yet to find anyone that does not believe that capitalism is useful in certain circumstances. I am sure they exist but I have not met one. I very much doubt he is one of these.

          The philosophy of ethics covers the concept of morality and thus is related to good and evil. It also includes (in)justice and being humane. Of course they are related but they are not the same.
          You may be undergoing inhumane testing on animals but for an overall greater good. This is an ethical dilemma and has little to do with good vs evil although someone like PETA may invoke the words a lot when discussing it.

          At any rate. Evil is an terribly emotive word and is unfit for rational public discussion. It is also not true in the case of capitalism. It is ignorance, selfishness and arrogance that cause the harm, not evil.

          There are evil capitalists, but capitalism is not inherently evil. 🙂

  4. MrSmith 4

    This is a great idea, I like many am sick of buying cheap crap made in China, so I now buy anything but, most goods made in Germany last and you can have them repaired mostly.

    Remember there used to be businesses everywhere employing people repairing and reconditioning things, you can hardly even get your shoes repaired these days , now all we do is use it once and then off to the dump,landfill,incinerator with it “what a waste”.

    So yes this could fly, good regulation is good for everybody, set a standard, instead of whoring ourselves to China and the like, as we have been doing for to long.

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