Saturday 23rd January 2021
The average consumer is not usually a moral actor, when it comes to certain things, I myself am not a moral actor. Should i actively go out of my way to find out the specifics of where my clothes are produced? Maybe I very well should, however I, like most people, do not try to fill my time with getting angry about each instance of company overreach and modern slavery in the clothing industry. Perhaps that is an industry where I can take the time to look into it more, since its an essential industry that should be encouraged by the public to be more ethical, but thats neither here nor there. What I can do however, rather than worry about every industries individual problems, is apply my own principles into the initial purchasing decisions, or even further back, the decisions of where to even look, which in turn, will help me reach a more moral decision than i would otherwise default to.
For example, by purchasing clothes, books etc at a charity shop I can turn the purchasing of a jacket into a more morally good action. Whether or not the money goes to a worthy cause will depend on the specific charity, what you think of as a worthy cause, and so on and so forth. Regardless, I am still trying to turn a simple action that would not have a moral virtue, or even, have a negative moral value, aside from of course the usual decisions that go into a purchasing choice, say cost and convenience, and turn it into a decidedly more virtuous choice. Each person makes these micro decisions when it comes to purchases, at least those made outside of impulse purchases, with the ultimate caveat being that they consider the consequences of their actions, moral or otherwise, obviously weighing each choice against their financial decision or other incentives.
The British public does this, and has a history of doing so, due to a history of being moral actors and a strong sense of national pride. This can be seen in the two decade long push for british grown foods, where decent standards can be enforced and things like mistreatment of animals are "supposed" to be lower, whether the standards for lower are low enough are up to your personal values and are debateable. I can say anecdotally that most farmers i have met and know of are very decent people who care very much about the animals that they farm. This falls in line with the English cultural zeitgeist of the English animal lover, even if at the end of said animals life results in being food. I can say with certainty that a very decent chunk of the public try to be a moral good when it comes to their purchases, at least those involving animals, otherwise you wouldnt see so many companies advertising their British free range food.
Regardless of the Publics intent however, they cannot actively be a moral good if they arent allowed to participate organically in the market or have their options limited to only a select few.
The High Streets in the UK have been on decline for a good few years, even before the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Even in tourist towns, businesses were closing left and right, with only the largest and most prominent names standing, Only huge corps or very specialised smaller shops remain, others constantly teetering on the edge of bankcrupcy. This "pandemic" has only made it worse, with many businesses being entirely unable to operate, only the largest have managed to find the ability to exist in the modern climate. Even large companies like Argos have had to restructure, close the majority of their stores, letting a vast majority of their retail staff go, and moving to online based service, ie, delivery.
The smaller businesses? Left to rot, and the governments furlough scheme failing all except those with others to support them. All at the taxpayer expense, and the society nad cultures expense. The question has to be asked, who is benefiting from this?
We all know the answer, megacorporations like Amazon. The only people able to put their hands in every basket and scoop out all the eggs
Not only is the average person powerless to stop it, they are unable to do little but use said services, its not like we can just use someone else for some of these things. Thats not to say that there are no alternatives, luckily the market has been popping up with budding entrepaneurs setting up shop on places like Ebay and Etsy, this is good, however they tend to offer specialised things, rather than the core items that are essential to society. Many of the more medium companies do have their own sites and the smaller ones have been adapting as they can, these however can rarely match the prices or convenience of somewhere like Amazon, who have lower profit margins than more local offerings and can underprice their goods.
So what am I trying to suggest? I suggest we take the moral actions taht we, as the public, took and take with the consumption of certain meats or fair trade products. Rather than buy the acsolute cheapest or most convenient option, we go for something we know has a more direct benefit to our local communities, this however, will be tough in the current climate, as many of us are currently either on furlough or jobless, leaving ourselves with little choice in some purchases than in times of plenty. Assuming however, that we do re-open as we are lead to believe, then we should take steps and work extra hard to take every avenue of our lives into more local, less reliant alternatives. Be it anything, from where we buy our products, to how we consume others and regardless of the underhanded methods used to impose restrictions on our freedom, we can yet rebuild. If you are a good speaker, run for office at your local council, voice your concerns as a constituent, ask politicians what THEY are going to do in order to revitalise your areas.Most importantly, ask the conservatives why the are more concerned with concerving the pockets of Amazon than of the businesses of Britain, and no, because Kier Starmer said to isnt good enough.
They should know, and part of me thinks they do know, that fattening the pockets of Amazon and big tech whilst strangling the little guy only serves to weaken their power, our trust in them and not just their futures, their childrens futures too. It is all our futures in jeopardy.
We as the British public do have the power to make the change, we just need to voice our desire for it.