This post is inspired by a stint of research into what Apple executives’ reaction was to the “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. Even though on a corporate communications level, Apple has responded to the conditions portrayed by Mike Daisey, Apple’s executives shied away from making public statements about Mike Daisey’s allegations…until today… Continue reading Epic Showdown: Tim Cook vs Mike Daisey (with a guest star as well)
I actually got to meet Jason DeRulo after the concert last week– we talked ethics for a hot sec.
Do you think your goal as an artist is to be the most profitable tour or to express yourself and bring the most joy to your fans? Continue reading Jason DeRulo Talks Dirty to Me
In our third time around with the Mike Daisey and Apple story, I am left with three main thoughts, being both novel and recurring.
The first, and most prominent to me, was the question that I have not been fully able to answer across all three blogs: If this wasn’t all about Apple, would we really have cared? Did Mike Daisey’s story of Foxconn, beit true or false, only catch our attention because it was about a Man and a Company so revered by us that we couldn’t dare imagine Apple as being anything but the most ethical, the most innovative, and most popular company. But what if Mike Daisey had chosen to highlight Foxconn’s conditions under the context of Samsung, or Nokia? Would TAL have given it airtime? Would he have been asked to come to speak at tech/no? The answer I tend to believe is no, Continue reading So Why Did We Care?
…Literally, all this talk is driving me to insanity.
I get it.
I get that there is corruption within apple. I get that Steve Jobs is an innovative genius. I love the insights about how important innovation is in the technological realm. I really do. But I’m tired of reading everyone’s similar blog posts about the role of transparency and stakeholders. Most significantly, I am tired of analyzing apple as a company, so this blog post will be different. Continue reading I Get It
In the excerpt The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike Daisey provides a stimulating examination of the exploitation of Chinese employees of the FOXCONN manufacturing plant. The extensive and vivid podcast of Daisey not only demonstrates the harsh working conditions of the Chinese employees, but also provides a distinct perspective of Apple products. In America, each individual is a participant of our consumerist society. Due to this fact, I believe we fail to recognize certain negative aspects that tend to go unnoticed that are unveiled in this podcast such as: where our products are made and whom they are made by.
The first negative aspect of production that I will discuss is where our products are made. In the podcast, reporter Mike Daisey shares his experience of when he traveled to China to visit the massive manufacturing plant FOXCONN. This Chinese plant employs 430,000 employees varying in many ages. I have been in many football stadiums numerous times with massive capacities of 80,000-90,000 people, but just the thought of picturing 430,000 people working in one place is unimaginable. In addition to the large size of this plant, employees must also take breaks and eat lunch in cafeterias that are only fit to hold about 4,000 people at a time. This is simply unreasonable and not sanitary. Although these employees do voluntarily come to work here and make a living, they are asked to work illogical hours and in rigorous conditions, which we simply never think about because we are distracted by our precious iPhones.
The second issue is, whom our products are made by. I would want to elaborate on why I say our products. In the podcast, Daisey explains how many of the employees have never even see the finished product. Ironically, although hundreds of thousands of employees work on the products, they hardly ever get to hold one afterwards. Additionally, not only do employees work extensive hours on these products, but many of them are also are physically impaired and are young teenagers. Essentially, many of the employees who make our precious Apple products should not be working in this factory.
There are various aspects of the podcast that I liked, but most of all I enjoyed how the podcast made me think of things we Apple consumers do not usually think of. In our consumerist society we tend to ignore where and who makes our products, as long as we have our product. This normative thinking has resulted in unethical working conditions for such employees at FOXCONN, but mostly importantly, ignorance from us consumers to recognize what is actually going on before we receive our finished products.
….that would require someone to care.
The sheer enormity of the experience working in the factory zone is incomprehensible to me. The claim that cafeterias exist to even serve 10,000 people, (let alone they only seat a couple THOUSAND), is just a little too close to Big Brother control for comfort. When was the last time you had lunch with a couple hundred of your closest friends? Thousands of people have lost their subjectivity to become a cog in the machine. And not just a couple people here and there, but literal thousands of people. Nameless, faceless, laborers working mindless 16 Chinese-hour shifts.
Do you really think Apple doesn’t know?
Even as a business major, I sometimes forget that people are still required to make stuff. I picture completely automated factories just churning out iPhones, with maybe a few workers on hand just to make sure everything runs smoothly. Who knew the many thousands of people that are required to make just this singular product. And that they are working relentless hours doing mind numbingly simple tasks, over and over. In my political science class, we talked about how a majority of the world lives on the ‘cross diagonal’ from China to South America. I’m having a minor existential crisis over here trying to wrap my mind around all of the people who live on this earth- and how many nameless people in that cross diagonal work in Factory Zones.
With all of the people affected by this system, why hasn’t anything changed? It’s a simple enough question. Like when Mike Daisy asked the workers what changes they would make, and it had never even crossed their minds that change was an option. How is that even possible? I am reminded of the privileges afforded to me as an American citizen to question those in authority. We, the everyday users of Apple products, only enter into the system as consumers, buying phones from chic modern Apple stores in America. As citizens of a capitalism society, we are not taught to question the supply chain. Because each and every willing customer of Apple knows deep down that asking questions will lead to answers we don’t want to hear. Statements like, “Now I’ve cleaned it twice” that prick at our guilt and cause us to question the morality of owning and using the products.
It never even crossed my mind that Apple would know. Apple is great. I love Apple and I love my Mac and my iPhone. Apple is perfection to a fault. However, it is becoming clear that perfection is a fault- when you tie it to achieving it by any means necessary. My jaw actually dropped when I listened to the part of the podcast where the Daisy explains that the cleaning alcohol was replaced with a POTENT NEUROTOXIN because it sped up the process. And that there is an easy fix to just rotate people out of this job to avoid the damage (which I am skeptical about, but it would be an improvement). Let’s just think about this for a quick second: someone somewhere in management made a deliberate, and- I assume -informed, decision to start using a new cleaning chemical, despite the fact that it is will cause serious damaged to those who use it. All to beef up the bottom line. Apple sell’s itself as a company that does it right. It gives off an air of environmental and social responsibility, while on the ground factory conditions scream otherwise. And the scary part is that Apple knows exactly what it’s doing.
This blog, despite being mostly shocked and angry at Apple, isn’t a call to arms. I’m typing this on my MacBook Pro. My iPhone is sitting on the table next to me. I’m not going to stop using my phone or computer. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. At the end of the podcast, someone questioned the idea that “sweatshops are bad, but we should feel okay about it”. Am I complicit in supporting sweatshops? Unfortunately, yes. Because it’s really hard to not buy into them. Your most every possession is made in China or a place like it. It’s true that I could just go out of my way to buy fair trade products for everything in my life. But that’s missing the point. This is a huge, system wide problem that won’t be solved on an individual level. Apple has to step in. Get other companies on board. Make changes. Enforce the changes. And I’ll still have an iPhone at the end of the day.
According only 32% of the companies they audited complied with the standards about labor laws.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Sweatshops are bad, but we should feel okay about it