[Merged] Mike Daisey Foxconn Visit / This American Life Segment

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Sydde, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #1
    On NPR, during fund drives, they speak of the "driveway moment", where you sit in the car listening to a show because you want to hear all of it. So it was yesterday, when This American Life did a story on Apple fanboy Mike Daisey's visit to Foxconn in Shenzhen Guangdong China, just across the water from Hong Kong.

    MP3 link

    The tale he tells is pretty brutal. The factories are eerily quiet because human labor is more economical than machinery. The people work ridiculous hours, develop insurmountable RSIs by their mid-to-late 20s or crippling tremors from the chemicals, and, like broken machinery, get tossed out when they can no longer produce. China may once have been communist-ish, but today workers get blacklisted if they join a real labor union.

    Yet, some say that the grim reality of sweatshops is a step up from the grim reality of rice paddies. That the people's lives have been improved by globalist capitalism. It is a vexing issue. I find it difficult to accept that the western market ethos is so vastly superior to all the alternatives that it ought to be blindly exported to the rest of the world in this way.

    After all, in US, most of the people can barely function outside the bounds of the consumer culture. If the grocery stores ran out of food, what would we do to cope? If the gas pumps ran dry, how would we get from here to there? If the internet went dark, would we be able to communicate with people or retain information (wait, let me check wikipedia on that).

    Already, our society has drawn terribly close to the unstable edge, and we want to export that? I perceive that some sort of sea change is due, but how would we make things better, more stable, more sustainable?
     
  2. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #2
    In dialogue with President Obama, Steve Jobs stated that the reason Apple manufactures in China is because they need 30 000 engineers to oversee production, a resource Apple was unable to acquire in the US. He criticized the poor state of America's education as the cause.

    If true, it forces some interesting questions, least of all whether that has any bearing outside of his reality distortion field…
     
  3. Sydde thread starter macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #3
    Anyone in that kind of position can afford to hire a full-time excuse writer – I guess sometimes excuses do pay the rent.
     
  4. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #4
    Complete and utter nonsense. The US graduates 3-4x that number per year. I also saw an article regarding this and the reason China's engineering numbers are inflated is because they include many more professions (ie motorcycle technician might be considered an engineer).

    Apple is a greedy corporation just like all the others.
     
  5. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030

    Big-TDI-Guy

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    #5
    Listening to it right now... blown away. Having seen many documentaries about this subject, I'm still stunned at what my ears are taking in at this moment...
     
  6. Sydde thread starter macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #6
    Listen to all of it, there are some caveats in the last ten minutes or so.
     
  7. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    #7
    I guess I feel a little better since I don't buy Apple or any Foxconn hardware but I doubt some of the electronics I use are from factories that are any better. :(
     
  8. Happybunny, Jan 8, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Happybunny macrumors 68000

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    #8
    Everything you wrote is true, but seen through the eyes of the young. Shopping with a conscience is one of those ideas, that only works in a perfect world.
    The youth sees the world in black and white, in middle age in shades of grey, and the old, like me, well we are just lucky if we see at all.
     
  9. CalWizrd Suspended

    CalWizrd

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    #9
    This could be one of the best lines I've ever encountered in this forum!
     
  10. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #10
    What would the million or so Foxconn employees be doing if apple wasn't there?
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #11
    I think there are other complex questions associated, e.g., is one's HTC or Motorola or Nokia phone (and its parts) built under better working conditions?

    My feeling is that at least part of the calculus of this question depends on evidence of whether China's growth is in the long term producing better living conditions for its people (alongside the question of what its living conditions are now, and what will be the cost/feasibility of correcting environmental harm produced along the way, etc.). Although not on this scale, the US and UK certainly had poor working conditions during their industrial births.

    I think Apple's claim that engineering talent is the primary driver for manufacturing in China is hogwash. The existence of electronics fab/assembly infrastructure, maybe, though. Like tooling up advanced LCD production in the US is a lot easier said than done at this point.
     
  12. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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    #12
    Sorry to go off topic but if you don't buy any Apple products why on earth are you a member of an Apple-centric forum ?

    Just curious mind you. :)

    /off-topic
     
  13. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #13
    There have been several notable members who frequent only the PRSI Forum and who don't use Macs. DesertRat is (was?) one of them. BTW, what has happened to 'Rat, anyone know? :confused:
     
  14. maril1111 macrumors 68000

    maril1111

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    #14
    Just out of curiosity, than what are you doing on a mac forum?


    To the O.P. this is some really interesting information, but a bit shocking as-well.
     
  15. samiwas macrumors 65816

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    #15
    They should just get other jobs.
     
  16. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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    #16
    They would be building Thinkpads and HP Laptops like they do now.

    Foxconn isn't exclusive to Apple,Inc.
     
  17. renewed, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    renewed macrumors 68040

    renewed

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    #17
    I highly doubt the same amount would be employed, however. The needed work force would significantly decrease if Apple was to pull out.
     
  18. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    #18
    For those who decry unions in the U.S., it seems the quality of life for a manufacturing line worker in modern-day China is equivalent to an American at the dawn of the 20th century. Reminiscent of Sinclair's The Jungle or the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Meat-packing...clothing...electronic gadget manufacturing...different products, same story.

    China needs to have its own workers movement (as well as an environmental movement). And Western companies need to all bind together in unity to pressure the Chinese government. This is not just an Apple problem. And we all need to expect to pay more for our gadgets if they are manufactured under conditions acceptable to Western workers.
     
  19. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #19
    Following this line of reasoning, we all need to also agree to settle for less consumption, as there just isn't enough money in most peoples' personal budgets to replace all their foreign-bought goods with the same goods bought at American or European wages throughout the supply chain. (I'm not saying that we should or shouldn't do this, or that this is a reason to stop asking for reasonable workers' conditions -- I just mean that, if you take all the labor discounts out of the goods and goods-dependent services that the average person in the US or UK buys, then that person doesn't have the 10s (or 100s) of thousands of dollars/pounds/euros to still buy all that stuff at "true" cost.)
     
  20. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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    #20
    The only flaw in that reasoning is the assumption that gadget makers MUST maintain their huge profit margins.
     
  21. jeremy h macrumors 6502

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    #21
    It always surprises me when people are surprised by bad conditions in factories making 'cheap' (to buy - not quality) consumer goods.

    When I was growing up (in the 70's and 80's) a TV was a massive purchase - I remember the sheer excitement of getting a new one. (To replace the exisiting one - not as an additional one). The thing is those TVs were pretty much all made in the UK, they cost a lot because we had to pay people a lot to make them. Right up to the 90's consumer electronics etc cost lots! Then we off shored everything and everything got cheaper. We can all afford a TV in every room now if we want.

    I'm as guilty as anyone of buying lots of stuff, I recently bought a Phone for £15 (new with a £10 credit on) - I'd be amazed if that was made under the sort of conditions a Western worker would expect.

    As the others have just said - I'm going to have to make do with less stuff in the future - which might not be such a bad thing.
     
  22. Sydde thread starter macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #22
    Wow, here I thought we were only exporting our culture – we are evidently exporting our past as well. Perhaps the Chinese cannot afford the fee for learning from our mistakes.
     
  23. elistan macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    What an excellent episode. I'm glad I managed to hear it, at random, over the weekend.
     
  24. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #24
    Apple does have a very large margin, admittedly (not everyone else does), but even if this were taken into account, I think we would still have to seriously downgrade the amount of stuff (and it's really not just gadgets, but a wide variety of non-durable manufactured products, as well even as many parts of our durable goods) we buy as a consequence of the kind of change you describe. The bottom line is that the benefit we derive from low wages in China (and elsewhere) is pervasive in how we live our lives. So many of our clothes and textiles, household / kitchen goods, and so on are made in low wage countries. There are consumers who more stringently than others avoid contributing to this problem, but I don't think there are many who completely avoid it, and the cost is pretty high.
     
  25. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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    #25
    So what you're saying basically is the United States and most of Europe is getting fat off the backs of the poor of the world.
     

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