Tag Archives: Mike Daisy

Jason DeRulo Talks Dirty to Me

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

Got sweatshops?

What I really enjoyed about the podcast was the contrasting approach that it took to the subject by showing the horrible conditions that workers are subjected to but also exploring opinions that on the whole, the situation is positive and constantly improving.

The imagery used to portray the factory horrified and awed me at the same time. The efficiency with which the factory was organised showed the absolute dedication that the management showed towards maximizing production. It also showed the large disconnect between the management and the workers. The workers were definitely not viewed as stakeholders in the organization, but as being expendable, showed by the very high turnover rate for employees.  The spartan conditions in which the workers were accommodated showed how only the bare minimum, and only if it increased productivity, was provided. (for example, no seating is provided since it was discovered that standing increases productivity, even if that meant the worker would be standing for as many as 18 hours).

These closely guarded conditions from the factory are clearly not hidden from the authorities, as the cooperation between the Labor Bureau and the corporations shows. The reporter mentions that audits from private companies and state agencies do happen, but many times the corporations are warned ahead of time in order to prepare. Companies for example, would move their oldest employees for example when there was a inspection that might have discovered underage workers. The speaker then mentions that it is incredible how no one has actually figured out what is happening. My suspicion is that even the government employees (at least the high level ones) are aware of what is happening at the factory, but choose to ignore the issue, in favor perhaps, of the general economic wellness of China.

This brings to the point of the opposing argument, that the sweatshop industries are helping both the country as a whole and even the workers whose children will have a better chance due to the sacrifice of their parents. The situation, however dire it may seem, is seen as better than life working the rice paddies, and time, worker conditions will improve. My opinion is that the truth is somewhere in the middle-it would be counterproductive even to the Chinese workers to force companies to adopt the exact work practices that are followed in the United States, to the point where corporations will simply choose to relocate in another country. On the other hand, it has been showed, even by Apple’s internal reports, that applying more pressure on corporations to improve their practices will show results and that as consumers and authorities become more and more aware of the issues, regulations and customer demand will lead to improved conditions for the workers.

Know Your Company Before You Consume

Apple is a company that uses any edge it can to outsell their competitors. Apple’s products are serene and full of life. They contain elements that may not seem logical from a simple marketing standpoint, but make all the difference in the mind of a consumer. For instance, the Siri App answers questions and tasks in a coy manner– the user asks where Siri was made, and Siri responds “I am not allowed to say”, almost with attitude. These little things separate an iPhone from a Samsung Galaxy, which may superficially function in the same manner, but users may prefer an iPhone even when they can’t exactly say why.

The technology market is extremely competitve, to say the least. It seems that as soon as you purchase your technology (such as an iPhone), there is a newer iPhone released in the next month. The aspects and working parts of technology are so critical because technology is so rapidly growing. Technology companies have the critical role of convincing consumers that every little bit of technology makes their product better than the next. Apple uses this philosophy as the cornerstone of their operations, with advertising all the way through the packaging on their products. Apple is the product king– they are the best in their field in a field which has the highest demand for the marketing of products.

However, with Mike Daisey’s compelling tale of Shenzhen, we must always be aware of the other side– Apple may seem like a perfect company with innovative products, but they are also exploiting workers in sweatshops in China. Apple’s secrecy helps them to retain brand equity and this aura of perfection among their products. By doing so, consumers are more likely to turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of workers. The author’s prose-like comical style is intriguing to say the least, but nonetheless is very informative about China’s role in the technology sphere. He gives life and tells personable, relatable stories about the factories and the people there. This is an enlightening story because these stories and situations are often hidden among the operations of the companies we buy products from. Our biggest flaw as humans is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and Mike Daisey creates empathy with the audience to learn about something very important when discussing technology and consuming electronics.



Do you really think Apple doesn’t know?

….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