[CS-FSLUG] Why Apple gadgets can’t be made in the U.S.

Marco Tedaldi marco.tedaldi at gmail.com
Fri Jan 27 12:09:57 CST 2012

Hi Josiah

On 26.01.2012 15:24, Josiah Ritchie wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 1:10 AM, Marco Tedaldi <marco.tedaldi at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Somehow I get the feeling that they regrett, that slavery has been
>> outlawed in the Western world. As a positive point for producing in Asia
>> they tell this story: (Free from my mind)
>> "We had made a mistake and had a last minute change. The make this
>> change for us, the producer woke up 8000 workers, gave them a little
>> snack and set them to work..." and "this would not have been possible in
>> the US".
>> Thanx god it is not possible there! The times of owning slaves should be
>> over by now! So basically, apple supports slavery like working
>> conditions. Great!
> If you are really interested in the working conditions in Chinese
> factories, "This American Life" did a very interesting piece on
> exactly this topic that managed to go directly to the sources from
> several different directions. It is almost an hour, but extremely well
> told and worth it:
> http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/454/mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory
Thanx. I'll take a look at it.

> Indulge me to rock the boat a bit, but is it really slavery if they
> choose that work?

It really depends how "free" this desicion is. And what the alternatives
are. It is always about the alternatives.

> I agree that promoting improved working conditions
> is appropriate, but if these conditions are chosen because their other
> options are deemed worse and they can leave for those conditions when
> they desire, then they are meeting obligations they have signed
> themselves up for. 

Again. I don't know what the alternatives for these people are. But when
workers choose suicide instead of quitting the job, this tells something.

> To equate this to slavery is to water down the word
> when used to describe people who have been taken from their homes
> against their will or even sold by their own parents into unpaid
> labor. This does not describe the conditions while working, but the
> conditions under which one is reimbursed for the work. In fact, during
> biblical times we have examples of slaves that were very comfortable
> in their condition of slavery (Joseph before he was sent to jail) and
> examples of those who were not happy. I'm sure we could find people on
> this list who are very unsatisfied with the treatment of their boss,
> but remain because of various reasons that don't outweigh their desire
> to leave. 

Right. Because the alternative seems less favorable. It always depends
on the scale.

> The point is that Foxconn's employees have a choice. 

I'm not really sure there.
Ok, the do HAVE a choice. But than you can say, that every slave also
has a choice. He can do what his master wants or he can face the
consequences. The same is true for foxcon workers. I think, they won't
be beaten to death if the leave... but I'm quite sure the prospects
won't be good.

> There
> are those in our world who do not have a choice. To redefine this term
> so loosely is to do a disservice to those in even worse conditions.

So what is your definition of slavery? Is it slavery when mexicans are
forced to work in shops 16hr a day to pay off the debt to the people
that "helped" them cross the border? They had signed up for this as free

> Additionally, are we promoting families starving because they can't
> get jobs that sometimes include being woken up in the middle of the
> night to work for pay? (This sounds a bit like a sys admin job when a
> server goes bump in the night, except the sys admin isn't paid extra.)
The sys admin has generally a bit better working conditions... normally.

And is the alternative really starving families? Or would the
alternative be that some exec would have a bit less income? Apple has
had a record result last year. The record was at least in part a result
of people that got not the pay they deserved.
Sure, the company is american and thus good. And the people that have
not been paid are communists, but does it make it better? (sorry for the
sarcasm here)

> Not to defend Foxconn, but they are among the top ranking employers in
> that country in that market in terms of appropriate care of employees.
> That isn't to say they are great, but they are hardly the worst and so
> pointing to them as the hallmark of failure is inaccurate. They have
> made changes as the result of pressure from the US and others.

I'm not pointing at foxcon. but I'm pointing at western companies that
make huge profits out of the miserable working conditions of the people.
And just as a sidenote: by letting foxcon produce the products instead
of producing them in factories in the US a lot of know how is transfered
there (and away from the US). Also, these are several thousand jobs that
have been outsourced.

So apple is the big winner
Several thousand americans don't have a job, they loose
People in china have to work under really bad conditions, they loose as
well... (ok, at least they have a job until they kill themselves because
they cannot handle the pressure anymore).

> Not to defend Apple, but they are hardly the only one using Foxconn
> and worse factories to assemble their gadgetry. Really, Apple is one
> of the few Foxconn customers at least making the appearance of pushing
> for improvement.
Yeah. It's true. Quite a big part of the electronic gadgets we use today
went trough foxcons factories (like Microsoft Mices and other stuff).
And apple only pushes for better working conditions because they are
under public pressure. When they outsourced the production to foxcon,
they knew how foxcon worked. Why did they not push for improvement from
the beginning?

> So when I look at all those issues, I'm left to assume that there is
> something more here than the press is delivering. The spin on the
> story is high and broad. The targets are very precise. It makes it
> look like someone is out to smear Apple and Foxconn specifically even
> though there are weaker targets in both those markets in the areas
> being attacked. 

Apple has a quite hight profile. It is a company almost everyone knows.
And apple has had a good name until now. Microsoft for example is
considered "evil" since a long time, so there is not much to win by
trying to smear them :-)

> Our beef needs to be with more than just Foxconn and
> Apple, but with Chinese working conditions in all of manufacturing of
> gadget and likely other things and with all companies using Chinese
> labor at those standards.
Our beef should be with all these companies that outsourced the labor to
"optimize" the profit or to be cheaper than the competition.
Our beef should also be with ourselves for being "cheap" by just looking
at the price tag and wanting all these gadgets.
The gadgets would be more expensive and many of us could not afford to
buy many of these gadgets if not for cheap chinese labor.

> What's the real story? Are we getting played?
Sure. We are being played all the time. We believe in people that call
themselves patriots that only want to "optimize" tax for millionaires.
We believe the people when they say that the love the country, but on
the other hand they outsource labor overseas and kill a lot of jobs on
the way.

So yes, we are played. And I think everyone here knows, who's behind
that all and what the solution is. Let's ask jesus, I know, he's not
playing me!



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