“A Fascist [company] run by thugs”

When I think about the number of people I see walking around with their iPhone in hand everywhere I go, I am both astounded and disgusted by the fact that a Chinese factory worker had to individually test each and every cameras on those phones, and wipe down each and every screen, before putting them in boxes and shipping them out. And then I think about all the millions, maybe even billions, of people around the world with iPhones, that were also tested and wiped down prior to leaving the factory.

Whenever I see “handmade” written on a tag, I am willing to pay a higher price for it, because I expect it to be a better quality. I think about the person that sat somewhere for days sewing the sweater I have on. I assume that my sweater is unique because it is handmade, unlike most things nowadays. Like Daisey, I never thought in depth about where computers were made. I assumed that each specific tiny part that went in to my MacBook Pro, in to my iPhone, and in to my iPad, had been mass produced somewhere in a Chinese factory full of machines. I assumed that there had to have been workers present in these factories to ensure that the parts were being produced correctly. I had no idea that so many workers were present during the production of technology, and that their tasks were so extensive and meticulous.

As an accounting major, I interned in the audit department of a larger firm this past summer. While I enjoyed what I did, this internship helped me realize that I will not be working on just audits for the rest of my life. After a few years, people generally begin to move up the corporate chain to a more managerial-based position, and will have more variety in their positions, rather than just working on audits. After reading this article, I have come to realize that even the audit tasks that I expect will be repetitive and monotonous after a few months, will still vary amongst different clients. I reflect on the employees in these factories who get their first job at the age of twelve or thirteen, and who do the exact same monotonous job of wiping a screen, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, and I gain a new appreciation for the work I will do after graduation. The next time someone asks me “isn’t accounting so boring,?” I will say, “no, not as boring as wiping down screens in a crammed, underpaid, no benefits job, where management has no concern for you or your well being.”

Will any of us actually get rid of our Apple products or do anything to revolt against the multibillion dollar corporation after knowing more details about Chinese factories, the mistreatment of workers, and the conditions under which Apple products are manufactured? Even if everyone protested against Apple, think of all the other companies who have parts manufactured in the same exact factories that. Should the answer to this problem be to boycott technology as a whole? What is your suggestion to this problem? I, for one, have zero suggestions, but know that I will wake up tomorrow willing to buy more Apple products, even after knowing these unethical facts.


8 thoughts on ““A Fascist [company] run by thugs””

  1. I think it is amazing that we can read and hear about terrible, terrible factory conditions sanctioned by Apple, and still be totally okay with buying and using their products. We live in a dual world- the rose colored world of iPhones and MacBooks, and the less exciting (though equally essential) world of brutal and dangerous working conditions. It’s interesting how the idea of ‘handmade’ products has been twisted in this light to be a detriment rather than a value-adding quality. Handmade for the masses demands a specific kind of labor force, but it’s success lies in the cloaked truth about production.


  2. I really loved your last paragraph, questioning the significance and the future action steps of the article. I agree with you in that as long as Apple continues to come out with sleek innovative products, it will be difficult to find motivation to strike out against Apple.


  3. I really enjoyed reading your post and how you made the personal connection to your internship this summer. You raise a great point. It is very often that we complain about doing simple tasks in our everyday lives meanwhile we are so fortunate to have some kind of flexibility in ours days. As college students it is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out, but it is crucial that I remember how lucky I am to be receiving an education and know that my future is up to me. I found it very upsetting listening to the podcast and especially the parts about how young these workers are and the terrible conditions that they live in-going to bed knowing that they will only repeat the same tasks as the day before. I absolutely lost respect for Apple as a company and find it crazy that they consider themselves a transparent company when they wouldn’t even come on the show to speak about the issues that were being raised.


  4. Your writing is incredibly powerful, both because of your language and the personal experiences you drew upon. The point of having something handmade and the quality we associate with it was both an interesting point in Daisey’s podcast and your blog. Handmade makes me think of quality, a master making a product that he/she has been making all of his/her professional life. However, this is not the case, children make up the majority of workers because by the time people are 26 they are “ruined and can no longer perform the operations because their bodies have been ruined from completing the task so many times.” I will never think of handmade the same way after hearing the podcast and reading these blogs.


  5. I thought it was interesting how you brought up how thankful you would be in an accounting job rather than a factory job in Shenzhen. I don’t think as consumers being brought up in a 1st world country we are thankful for the things that we are given. There was an indian philosopher that I had learned about in a past class (who I am blanking on the name) who argued that we view positive and negative experiences based on our past experience. In this way he justified a hierarchical class system where kings would be losing if reduced to the average mans standard of living and vice versa. Anyway, I am curious if you think that we can accurately assume these conditions to be “horrific” for these workers in a society where this may be closer to the norm. Can Apple realistically try to preserve the longterm ethical working conditions of FOXCONN if the competition in its market opposes it?


  6. Slightly off topic, but this passage stuck out to me:

    “The next time asks me ‘isn’t accounting so boring,?’ I will say, ‘no, not as boring as wiping down screens in a crammed, underpaid, no benefits job, where management has no concern for you or your well being.'”

    Regardless of if we can come up with a solution to the inhuman work conditions in sweatshops, I think that Daisey’s story should at least lead to a personal evaluation of how lucky we are to live in the United States and attend a school like Bucknell. As a senior looking for a job myself I often find myself dreading doing something that I won’t end up liking, but when put in the perspective of what these Chinese workers go through it becomes a lot easier to truly appreciate the situation I am in.


  7. According to the case, through 2009, about 33 million iPhones had been sold. That was only the beginning of their cycle. It may easily be 200-300 million sold now. Probably not billions.


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