Dick Smith has complained yet again that something he produced has been “”“”“banned”“”“”.
The man knows how to cause a ruckus.
What’s on your mind?
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When you walk into the Commonwealth Bank you don’t see advertisements on the walls attacking banks for paying obscene salaries to their executives. McDonalds would refuse to place banners outside its stores stating that Big Macs are rubbish and the Whopper is a superior burger. In a similar vein, News Limited, the publisher of this website, has taken the unremarkable commercial decision not to use its products as a vehicle to trash its reputation.
The person in question is Dick Smith and the material is a 28-page magazine he has written called Dick Smith’s Magazine of Forbidden Ideas That You Won’t Read About in the Mainstream Media.
As a businessman, Smith has harnessed the concept of martyrdom – be it real or imagined – as his preferred marketing technique. He has made millions presenting himself as a nuggetty Aussie battler taking on the big guys, despite being bigger than most in Australian business.
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Dick Smith, the former electronics giant, is a household name, an Australian icon. A former Australian of the Year, he was awarded an Order of Australia in 1999 “as a benefactor to charitable organisations”.
By any measure, he has earned the right to vent his opinion in public. His recent argument in favour of naming and shaming Australia’s mega-rich who do not give philanthropy garnered headlines nationwide and would have raised eyebrows – and probably voices – at the top end of town.
But we should be grateful for his candour. Few people have such courage, fortitude and leadership. And whether you loved or loathed his comments, he has done an important service in kick-starting a critically important conversation.
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Legendary philanthropists are often also legendary tight-arses.
Oil man John Paul Getty, whose now multi-billion dollar trust and art collection underpin the J. Paul Getty Museums in California, had a payphone installed in his London mansion Sutton Place.
“The guests won’t mind paying for their calls,” he said, “and as for the deadbeats, I couldn’t care less.”
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