Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm sorry, but it does matter where the poppies are made.

Ok, I totally get the RSA position. They have a limited income that is effectively fixed,

The more cost they can take out of the organisation, the more money there is available for providing benefits to their members.

If this were a case of, say, staff flying Jetstar to save money, we'd all be applauding.

But some decisions have a hidden cost, and a moral dimension.

Imagine a continuum with one end highly moral and satisfactory, like making the poppies in a sheltered workshop in earthquake ravaged Christchurch. It would be difficult to think of a more worthy supplier.

Using the cost justification argument means that next year the poppies could be made by slave labour in North Korea.

If the RSA executives are not prepared to do that, then they are saying that there are considerations that override cost saving.

So what we are discussing is how far we are prepared to go down that slippery slope before we cry off.

Making the poppies in China goes too far along that scale for me, and apparently for a bunch of people in Queenstown .

What's really interesting in that article is that the RSA president criticises the public because these weren't actually Chinese poppies, they were left over stock from last year.

I'm unhappy that the RSA has put me in the position where donating endorses the decision and boycotting hurts the wrong people.

I am donating this year but I won't take a physical poppy.

1 comment:

  1. Not quite sure that your argument stacks up there...

    While it's true that your examples of purchasing the poppies from China and making them here in New Zealand exist on some sort of continuum; it's not true that your North Korean example sits anywhere on that continuum.

    I hope that most people wouldn't consider purchasing poppies from a supplier to be immoral solely due to that supplier being located in China. On the other hand, hopefully everyone thinks it's immoral to purchase them from a supplier that uses slave labour (be they in North Korea or anywhere else).

    Having established that, the decision about where on the China-Christchurch continuum to locate production surely comes down to the purpose of the poppies in the first place. If you think they're principally about some sort of national pride, then surely it's best that they be made in New Zealand. If you think they're all about fundraising, then it's certainly better that they be made in China.

    Or if, like me, you think they're about remembrance and respect for both the dead and those who remain, then it probably doesn't matter too much. In an ideal world the RSA would chose to do a bit of social good by making them here, but their decision to buy them from China instead doesn't stop me buying one.