It's not often we hear the rich talk honestly about the poor in public. We can only guess what goes on behind closed doors, but out in the open CEOs are supposed to stick to their PR script — squeaky clean and politically correct. Well, thanks to billionaire Gerry Harvey we don't have to guess anymore.
In a new book, Master CEOs, Harvey speaks about the wastefulness of charity. "You could go out and give a million dollars to a charity tomorrow to help the homeless. You could argue that it is just wasted. They are not putting anything back into the community", he says, according to the November 21 Sydney Morning Herald.
But it gets better. "You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community", he continues. No good reason? Jeez Gerry, tell us what you really think!
It would be funny if reality weren't so tragic. Poverty and homelessness in this country are serious problems that require serious resources. To make matters worse, these remarks were made by someone who is not only worth around $1.6 billion, but whose company contributes greatly to poverty and the situation facing the "no-hopers" he refers to.
It was reported earlier this year that Harvey Norman was ripping off its workers by continuing to use dodgy individual contracts months after they were banned by the government. The contract paid just $15.29 an hour with no penalty rates for evening or weekend work, and cut the worker's pay by up to $146 a week.
Is this what Harvey means by "putting something back into the community"?
Or what about all the people who are unable to repay Harvey Norman after signing up for one of their whiz-bang "no repayments, no interest" deals? When the time is up and the brutal interest rates kick in many people are locked into a debt burden spiralling out of control. How is Harvey's employee on $15.29 an hour going to pay off a new washing machine after rent, food, bills, travel costs etc. have been paid for?
The real no-hopers in this society are not the people struggling to make ends meet, they are the Gerry Harveys of this world, obsessed with their own wealth and privileges.
So this Christmas if you find yourself browsing amongst Gerry's over-priced crap, why not consider "wasting" some money on the struggle to improve conditions for the poor and homeless. Green Left Weekly campaigns all year round to change the conditions that create the divide between rich and poor.
So far this year we have raised an impressive $195,000, leaving us with $55,000 to raise to reach our target of $250,000. Gerry Harvey's charitable $1 million could keep operations going for four years, but we don't expect a cheque from him anytime soon!
Why not take out a subscription to GLW, ensuring that you receive this valuable resource every week. To our loyal supporters who already subscribe, why not take up our appeal for a $20 investment in the struggle? Half of it can be used for a seven-issue introductory gift subscription for a friend. Or for a really meaningful Christmas present, why not go further and buy a one-year subscription for a friend or relative?
If we reach our target GLW will be financially viable for yet another year. Please help this bunch of no-hopers survive for a verygood reason!
Send the details of the person you would like to give a subscription to, along with your $20 cheque or money order — or your donation —, to GLW, PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, phone it through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).