Jul 082012

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation sends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations.

At a meeting with the state’s Small Business Commission I was once again reminded of Adam Smith’s words – that business owners will try to seek whatever opportunity they can to raise prices and whinge when they can’t.

Over the last few months I’ve heard business owners complain the government doesn’t do enough to protect the quality of their imports, give them more onstreet dining permits, stop their neighbours from having onstreet dining permits and, my favourite of all, regulating discounts offered on group buying websites.

Restauranteurs are complaining their customers don’t appreciate the cost of running a business – which is true, but it isn’t the customers problem.

A spectacular example is the anti-carbon tax propaganda where local businesses are displaying letters from a political party claiming their prices will go up and one franchise chain was dumb enough to even write down their plans to blame price rises on the new tax.

We also have the ongoing narrative that local councils – particularly those controlled by Green or Independent groups – are “anti-business” and killing commerce through unfairly enforcing parking rules and building bicycle lanes. Something that nicely fits the talking points of the Corporatist political parties that anyone who isn’t endorsed by a major party is “a dangerous radical”.

The best of all though is the ongoing campaign to eliminate the GST and import duties threshold for overseas purchases, which claims all the problems of the nation’s retailers would be solved if customers were forced to wait a week a pay a couple of hundred dollars in administrative fees.

Some of these gripes are fair – some councils are unreasonable (interestingly usually in areas where local government is seen as a stronghold a big party), the current tax rules are unfair and there are truly stupid people deeply discounting on group buying sites – but most of them are just excuses.

Business is always tough, if it wasn’t everybody would be doing it and taking it easy.

If all you can do is whinge about prices, your council, the government, your competitors, staff or your customers then maybe you should think about getting a job or at least taking a holiday.


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