Apple and the Moral question

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by nobody13, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. nobody13 macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2011
    1) Would you (we) be willing to pay higher prices for Apple products if they employed US labor exclusively?
    2) Would you support lowering the minimum wage in order to make American labor more competitive?
    3) Would you support forcing companies doing business with the US to negotiate "living wage" agreements with the countries whose labor force they use?
    "living wage" = equivalent to US minimum wage
  2. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    No, yes, no. If people think it's a problem the way that Apple and every other major manufacturer exploits cheap labor, don't buy their products.
  4. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    1) No. I don't live in the USA. I would not pay more to support a different economy outside of my home country. I might be willing to pay more if they were made in the UK but as it would be final assembly most of the money would be going offshore anyway

    2) I absolutely don't care. As above I don't live in the USA

    3) This is absolutely meaningless. A living wage does not mean the equivalent to the US minimum wage. If the cost of living in country X is 1/10 what it is in the USA you would expect labour there to be 1/10 the cost.

    I would point out that over 50% of Apple's revenue in the last quarter came from outside the USA (I think it was 60%) and this proportion is growing. Asking that 60% and growing to pay more to have stuff built in the USA is never going to work.
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    These types of questions always ignore that the US will undercut other countries where it has a cost advantage (eg corn production). And... every country does this - they try to undercut everyone else where they have an advantage.

    So picking on one aspect of an economy is not very useful.

    It also should be remembered that many of the countries that are currently undercutting US manufacturing, were pressured into trading by the US - sometimes by force. The US initially wanted to open up those foreign markets to its own products. It took a few decades (or longer), but once the trade barriers were broken down due to American pressure, some of those countries ended up out-competing the US. Ironic, eh?
  6. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    How did this post get moved into the PRSI forum? Usually when the OP is unable to participate the mods close the thread.
  7. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    1) Would you (we) be willing to pay higher prices for Apple products if they employed US labor exclusively? No.

    2) Would you support lowering the minimum wage in order to make American labor more competitive? No.

    3) Would you support forcing companies doing business with the US to negotiate "living wage" agreements with the countries whose labor force they use? No.
  8. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    We may be inconsistent on this at times, but if there is a valid discussion, we move it here so that eligible members can continue it (we might be more likely to close it if it's on a topic already in the PRSI, there are no replies from PRSI eligible members, etc.)

    Anyways, I would (possibly) pay more for a product made in compliance with some kind of fair wage law (I don't think the US minimum wage is any sensible way to define this, though -- it's not enough to live on in the US, and it is far more than is required to live in many developing countries). But I think the OP (who isn't around to reply, as noted) misunderstand's how much Apple's assembly labor makes up in terms of the creation of a product. It probably wouldn't be completely insane to assemble a product like the iPad in the US, although it would employ a lot less people here than it does in a Foxconn plant (albeit under better conditions).

    I'm a little pragmatic and callous, but my thinking is that, in the long term, the presence of these jobs in the developing world is leading to a rapid expansion of welfare, even if work conditions are not ideal. Much of the factory labor sector in China is experiencing 15-20% annual wage increases, in comparison to the two-tier system at auto plants in the US dropping wages by 30-50%. With any luck as China develops, other developing countries with lower labor costs than them will get the chance to benefit from this opportunity, too. Meanwhile, Americans haven't shown that much interest in doing back-breaking work for the current minimum wage, let alone an even lower one.

    To really build an iPad here, on the other hand, would require billions and billions in supply chain investment, as there isn't that much inside an iPad that we're competent to manufacture inside the US in volume at anywhere near a sensible cost.
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    This covers my view as well.
  10. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
  11. Gelfin macrumors 68020


    Sep 18, 2001
    Denver, CO
    I would pay, say, 20% more for a product made domestically (which is about the current gap as I understand it -- manufacturing cost in China has gone up, while the US has come down). No to the other two.
  12. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
  13. SwiftLives macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2001
    Charleston, SC
    So...hypothetically, if Apple's products were made in the much more would they cost? Some of the labor costs would be offset by not having to ship, but still, I think we'd see a very large increase. I just wonder how much.
  14. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    They are out competing in manufacturing because that was the whole purpose of outsourcing in the first place. Our companies went over there and provided them the tools to do manufacturing at a reduced cost. The advantage is mostly in cost, if labor was cheap in the US we would be more competitive because we are simply outsourcing what we need (labor).
  15. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    1) No - I'm not American so why would I? Apart from that, Apple is a public company with a primary responsibility to its shareholders, not to sort out America's labour problems

    2) Seems like a bad idea - presumably the minimum wage is set at a level that is required to live in the USA so lowering it would mean more people would be pushed below the poverty line

    3) That's a crazy idea - some countries have a higher cost of living than the USA and some have a lower one. A "Living wage" in the USA could be a fortune in a foreign country
  16. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States

    The American economy is very competitive and we don't need to bring low-tech manufacturing jobs back to the US, ever.

    10% unemployment as a result of technological advances and manufacturing techniques here in the US is the new reality. Change career fields, wake up, and adjust to reality.

    A company like Apple is able to make so much money because they are at both ends of the U curve. At the bottom of the curve is China, with the lowest margins. Apple makes the most money because they are able to design the product and sell it, without having to worry about manufacturing it.

    Design, engineering, and advanced technical fields are the only jobs that will make any decent money in the US ever again. With the exception of localized industries that produce here in the US because of the sheer fact that it can be cheaper to assemble a product and distribute it here (see Toyota, Honda of America, BMW in Tennessee, etc) than to built it and ship it over.
  17. Abyssgh0st macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2009
    1. No.
    2. No.
    3. No. "Living Wage" is not universal.
  18. quagmire macrumors 603


    Apr 19, 2004
    1) It depends how much higher the price would go up.

    2) No. The cost of living is going up. Gas prices, food, etc. Minimum wage is barely if at all keeping up with the increased costs. Lowering it would create havoc. In one of my classes we did a price comparison of gas and the minimum wage back in the 1960's I believe it was and today. Gas has gone up 1500% while the minimum wage increased by 400%( again all by memory). If anything, minimum wage should increase as the cost of necessities go up.

    3) No. While I believe in giving companies incentives to keep jobs in the US, we can't force them to provide a higher wage for workers in another country being employed by another company.
  19. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    The free-trade agreements that were made dropped the tariffs on imported goods. Initially, the US was exporting way more so it was good for American manufacturers. Many local companies succumbed because they couldn't compete with the imported goods made in the modern American industrial plants. However, some companies also learned and created plants specifically to export back into the American market, which had also dropped its tariffs in order to gain access to the foreign market in the 1st place. So, the world gets American fast food and colas, and the US gets manufactured goods. It kinda balances out, eh?

    The US has gone through isolationist periods before.... between the two World Wars, iirc - I wonder whether we are entering one of those periods now? If so, and if China can keep itself from balkanizing, the US may not be able to re-emerge as the power it has been in the last few decades. What many people forget is that China had been a dominant global power for thousands of years, until a couple of centuries ago. Is it permanently off that perch? Or was it a temporary blip? I'm thinking temporary, personally. Luckily Canada is starting to move more of it's trade towards Asia and Europe. We are positioning ourselves for an non-American dominant world.
  20. samiwas macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    1) Yes, I would pay more for a product that I knew was US-based (because I live in the US and want to support it). I do wonder how much higher the price would have to be. Let's say they hired 40,000 workers at $12 an hour for 8 hour days, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. That comes out to $960 million, or less than 4% of their current NET profits, and less than 1% of revenue. With a current profit margin of about 23%, they've got the room to spare. Other companies don't have quite this margin, so that would be harder.

    2) No way.

    3) Forcing a country like China to pay a US living wage doesn't make sense. When I spent several weeks just outside of Shenzhen, I could buy a large bottle of beer (like a 40) from the bar across the street for under 25 cents US. Dinners would cost no more than a few dollars at most. At that kind of cost of living, even the US minimum wage is a windfall. Same thing in the Philippines. I took $200 there years ago, was there for six weeks, lived like a king, and brought most of that back...after giving some of my workers a few extra bucks. When I gave one a $10 bill out of my pocket to thank him for his hard work (they were paid by someone else, I was just giving him extra), he acted like I had just paid off his house.
  21. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008


    Don't care.

    *This depends on the price increase. $50? Sure. $100? Maybe. $100+. No.
  22. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    1. no

    2. no

    3. If you are requiring the "living wage" to be equivalent to US minimum wage then no. I wouldn't want to force it, but I would be willing to pay more if a company did negotiate with its suppliers so that workers were paid a living wage for whatever country they are working in.
  23. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2002
    Sarasota FL
  24. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    In a way, it's a pity that the OP is unable to comment on (and possibly refine) his or her initial post, as the questions asked are actually interesting.

    To question 1, as I am not a US citizen, I would offer a qualified "No". However, if the question was re-phrased to ask whether one would be willing to pay higher prices for a product that paid proper wages to those who made it (not necessarily solely in the US) then my answer would be a qualified "yes".

    Question 2 is a definite no. The race to the bottom in pursuit of corporate greed is not an attractive one, and I would not support the reduction of the minimum wage; by definition, the minimum wage is the least one can legally be paid. Nobody lives an obscene lifestyle on such, and most just manage to scrape by. To reduce it further, and add layers of further frustration and petty humiliation to people's lives seems to me an ill-judged and unfair policy.

    Question 3 is interesting. However, in its current form, I think it is somewhat misconceived. To ask Third World, or Second World, countries to pay US salaries is unrealistic, and I could not see how such a policy could be implemented, let alone sold to shareholders. So, no, as it stands. A better - and more topical - question on the same theme would be to ask whether one can force companies to pay a proper and appropriate living wage in third party countries - rather than turning a blind eye when they resort to the sort of horrible labour cost saving practices & short cuts (such as child labour) that some have used - citing spurious nonsense in their defence which suggests that such practices are not actually illegal in these countries. In that case, for me, it would be an overwhelming yes.

  25. Kestrel452 macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2008
    No, no, and hell no.

    Talk about being regressive. World trade is good stuff, keeps the peace and maximizes society's welfare.

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