Listening to this currently. I've heard about some of this before. Will comment more when it's finished.
Unfortunately, I've read about the worker abuse in China at these factories.
Now I'm going to have to go to bed with a guilty feeling tonight...
An important thing to remember...
Even though there was a time when "MADE IN USA" meant you could still find devices, durable goods/appliances and other hardware like computers and TV sets for sale on retail shelves, our country allowed whole industries to pack up and move offshore. I'm not opposed to buying something made offshore, but shopping for computers, phones, cameras and other electronic goods pretty much leaves no choice. If you want to buy a new phone (any type, cellular or cordless), music player or TV, and you want to screen out Pacific Rim suppliers, how many realistic choices will you have? Who is responsible for this development? Should each of us individually look in the mirror? Should we judge ourselves collectively for making this choice to allow these industries to leave without question in the name of so-called "free trade"? Or should we judge our political leaders for not questioning these decisions in the national interest on our behalf?
The last time I heard, Canada has laws that prohibit industrial mills from closing in one province to move to another. Yet mills in the US often shift from state to state to pursue lower wages and weaker worker protections. And with the "Citizens United" decision from the U.S. Supreme Court opening the flood gates not just to unlimited business financing of political campaigns but also to the unlimited flow of foreign money as well, what is the immediate likelihood of legislation passing that would change this situation?
Is all this Apple's responsibility? It doesn't seem that long ago that computers and other devices were being manufactured on these shores. I don't hold Apple responsible, nor do I hold the computer industry or the larger electronics industry responsible. They're just going with the flow. But what good does it do to complain about the effects of unrestrained free trade if we can't/won't/don't have a plan to do anything about it?
I agree with just about everything you're saying. Unfortunately, there is no real alternative when it comes to tech goodies. The only things I can feel fairly certain about not being manufactured in the same sort of factories would be my pro-grade lenses for my camera (albeit I'm not sure about the components that go into them.)
I guess the only real thing we could do, is to make sure that other people know about the conditions that people are in for the products we purchase.
I think we should focus on trade. We need to see our trade deficit closed and we need to have more reasonable trade deals with other countries. And we need to stop exporting heavy industry.
This loosely connects with what I posted before.
Kodak to exit the digital camera market
Kodak, who recently filed for bankruptcy protection, has announced that they will cease production of digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and digital picture frames in the first half of this year. It's expected to save the company $100 million dollars per year, but the move will result in "significant" job losses in Rochester. Kodak intends to focus on online, retail, and home photo printing, as well as brand licensing. More details can be found in this Reuters article.
Update: Retraction | This American Life
Thank you for that, Katy!
I'm an avid listener of This American Life--if I don't catch it on the radio, I listen to the podcast so I never miss a week. And this past week's episode was painful to listen to. Mike Daisy has responded publically to the airing of the show, talking about how his replies were distilled from a 5-hour grilling. He basically said Ira Glass was just as theatrical in purposefully inserting the longest pauses Daisy had in the 5-hour interview.
I actually agree to some extent with Daisy's assertion. I don't really agree with the way Ira Glass has taken to this retraction, to be honest. Daisy's monologue was a semi-stand-up monologue. Nobody believes that everything stand-up comics says in their monologue is 100% true.
I fault Glass for not communicating to Daisy the importance of the fact that everything had to be journalistically credible and literal... so that when Daisy says, "I met a man whose hand was balled up into a claw from exposure to Hexane," Daisy needed to have actually spoken to the man, NOT read about it in a news article somewhere, or not heard about the story from someone else at Foxconn. The issue is that those things have been reported on, and they are apparently true. The only difference here is that Daisy chose to weave them into his monologue as if HE personally experienced all of these interviews and encounters in person.
All Glass had to do at the beginning of the piece was SAY, "The stories we air here on This American Life are always true, in a journalistic sense. So if we say we talked to a woman who had to share her room with 10 other people, or that she was underage, or that a man could no longer speak because his vocal chords had been injured in an accident, it means we actually talked to these people. This next piece, which we think is worth devoting a whole hour to, is a special monologue written by Mike Daisy. He's been performing this monologue around the country, and it talks about the problems with working conditions at one of Apple's chief manufacturers. The thing is, Daisy isn't a journalist. He's a stand-up... so what this means is that some of the things he says he did, might have happened... but not necessarily to him. So after you hear his monologue here on our show today, we're we're going to take the last segment of our show and talk with Daisy and go over some of the things that he included in his monologue, but that he might not have experienced firsthand."
THAT's what should have happened. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. But the way Glass totally dissed him afterwards is really kind of shameful. That Daisy has a different style of presentation doesn't make what he did wrong or bad.
I think the reason Glass was SO humiliating to Daisy in that follow-up is because Glass probably felt like he'd been duped. But you know what? That's not really Daisy's fault, as I see it. Their wires were crossed, and once Daisy was cornered, he probably wanted to save face and just painted himself into an even smaller corner.
The worst part about all this is a lot of people are just going to know ABOUT this incident, and assume "Guy did a big expose on Apple and it turned out he made it all up" -- which winds up poo-pooing the important points he made.
So... I encourage everyone to listen to both of those two shows so you can at least hear the original airings.
Hey guys, this is a great discussion and I'm as involved and political as the next guy - maybe even more so. I don't think it's happening here but just be careful the forums don't turn into a foodfight!
What Daisey did was not journalism but marketing—of himself. John Gruber (Daring Fireball) has a bunch of posts on him, starting Friday, 16 March (a little more than halfway down the page right now). Devastating. He slandered a company that was aware of the problems and actually doing something about them—which, so far as I know, is more than can be said of the other electronics manufacturers using Foxconn.
By the way, Foxconn is planning to move to another area in China and replace a lot of the workers with robots.
I found more articles about the Retraction.
Daisey revelations sad, but not surprising | Macworld
Apple updates report on supplier working conditions | TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog
The bottom line is:
That factory makes devices for many other electronics distributors, some of them with less than ethical practices in the U.S.
He choose to bad mouth Apple at a very very vulnerable time, not because of its market share but because of the recent loss of its leader, which, in every mammal society, including human's, brings great distress.
Virtually kicking Apple's employees and fans, when they are in a vulnerable state, for the sole purpose of self promotion is unethical.
The Law of Unintended Consequences? From commenters at http://allthingsd.com/20120318/the-f...nd-the-media/:
For the past year I have been writing in comments on this very site and several others that the vast majority of "facts" in this issue are distorted or outfit fabrication. At last the truth is starting to come out.
Arik, could you please, please, please look into the actual statistics around the purported "suicide cluster" and low pay conditions that have featured so highly in the coverage of this topic.
All I have been able to find is that there were 17 suicides over 5 years up till early 2010 out of 1.2 million workers. This compares with the average suicide rate in the rest of China of 220 suicides PER YEAR out of every million people. The rate in the USA is 110 suicides per million per year and the rate amongst MIT undergrad students was the equivalent of 180 suicides per million per year.
This demonstrates that Foxconn's suicide rate is actually unbelievably LOW particularly since assembly-line workers are at a particularly high risk of suicide and the 18-35 age range is also a high risk category.
In addition, the pay rate for Foxconn production workers at $6,000 p.a. is 50% higher than for other production workers in the rest of China. . . .
If true, more interesting, and weirder, than propaganda.Quote:
The suicide rates are actually interesting.
For most of the 5 year period, suicides at Foxconn were very rare. But then Foxconn instituted a policy of paying a substantial amount (something like 5 years of salary) to the families of people who killed themselves. Not surprisingly in a country where so many people are dirt poor, the suicide rate skyrocketed. When Foxconn stopped the policy of paying for suicides, the rates dropped back down.
But at no time did the suicide rate at Foxconn reach even the average for China.
From my superficial acquaintance with Buddhism, the worst thing is lying, because it destroys the lied-to person's footing in reality.
PS to management: Italics are hard to read, and unnecessary with block quotes. Could the formatting be changed to roman? Thanks.
FWIW, the bottom line for me remains (1: the direction of U.S.-China relations and its impact on our economy, and (2: the impact of our trade policies with other countries, especially Asia-Pacific Rim area.
So long as we export jobs with abandon and don't have a serious discussion about it, issues like this will continue to crop up.
I'll stop boring y'all now!