Oh Kristin. Kristin, Kristin, Kristin. Bless your shy little soul.
You are browsing the archive for February2012
I yoinked this from the always spectacular Danger Guerrero, whose words I need not add to or alter, because they are perfect.
The importance of the following sentence cannot be overstated: This is the best commercial on television right now, and the guy in the blue shirt at the 0:19 mark is a national treasure.
There has been so much talk lately of Foxconn and the well-being of its employees. Are they being mistreated? Taken advantage of? Are they making fair wages under good conditions? Foxconn, after all, is the biggest manufacturer of Apple products, and both companies are doing exceptionally well these days. Apple just reported the biggest quarterly profit of a tech company ever. Foxconn is riding that wave of lusted-after products to record profits itself. With a little over a million employees, they are a huge operation.
In the last year or so, there have been numerous reports about employees committing suicide by jumping off the high buildings at the Foxconn plants. Nets have been put in place to prevent such things from happening, but the continual sight of those, I imagine to be not too cheery. Other reports of underage workers, long hours, harsh and dangerous conditions continued to come in and be picked up by larger news outlets, sensationalizing it as seem fit. It all culminated last night with Nightline, the what’s what of old people fear-mongering, doing a special investigative report.
Workers, on average, make $1.78 an hour. They are almost all under 30 years old. They pay for their own food, which is about $.70 a day. They pay for their dorms, where they sleep six to eight a room. Their rent is $17.50 a month. They work 12 hour shifts with a two hour lunch break.
And when a new manufacturing contract comes in, people will line up 10,000 deep to try to get a job there.
There are a lot of people who are calling on Apple to step in and change things. Most of these people have no idea what they’re talking about. They say that Apple has the money and clout to make a difference, which I admit, is true. While Foxconn is used by virtually every other big tech company to make their products, Apple is their darling.
The issue I have with people getting their panties in a twist over Foxconn’s factory working conditions is that they have no perspective. They are projecting their image of poverty and related conditions onto those of the Chinese. $1.78 does not go very far in the United States. There are candy bars that cost more than that at 7-11. But $1.78 is what many farmer’s families, who these young people usually belong to, make in a day in rural China. These factories are a way to propel themselves forward—to make money to save for schooling or a family. There is a quote by John Adams, I believe, that goes: I am a revolutionary so my son can be a farmer so his son can be a poet.
Personal health and well-being is completely relative to the conditions from whence you came. I would not be happy working at a factory. I have a college degree and was raised in an upper middle class family by parents who were raised by blue-collar workers who were raised by farmers. These are steps communities need to take. You don’t go from Shenzhen to Malibu over night.
Please don’t mistake this argument for one that implies that Foxconn and Apple don’t need to take any heat. People should always be treated as human beings. Factory work can be hard and stressful. Apple needs to make sure that its partners do well in their treatment of their employees. They are doing the right thing by making all these third party audits and inspections public. In the 90s, Nike was the company under fire for its use of sweat shops. While Foxconn is no sweatshop in that sense, they can always do better in the way of worker health and happiness. Capitalism is the best system we have, and while it technically allows anyone to be successful, it also relies heavily on the honor system—for those that are in power to not abuse it.
Companies will always look for ways to streamline their business. All the manufacturing used to be done stateside. It was cheaper and better. Now, with transportation being fast and less expensive and our workforce becoming more educated, those jobs have been shipped across the sea. President Obama asked Steve Jobs during a Whitehouse visit about what it would take to get iPhones made in the USA. The late Apple founder replied that those jobs are not coming back. They’re better at it and more willing to do it than we are. It’s not a matter of setting up factories here. All the parts to make the products are made in China. The minerals to make the parts are from China. We are no longer a manufacturing nation. We passed that rung on the ladder long ago. In the GOP debates this year, there has been mention of getting Apple to make its products stateside again. It’s a wonderful sentiment but it will never happen. It’s an ignorant talking point to get some applause from the ‘Murica dopes. Manufacturing is not the future of America. Software is. But I digress.
As stated earlier, Apple and Foxconn do have a responsibility in all of this. The workers who make these pretty things are not robots. They are human and need rest and distraction. Children should never work. Perhaps shortening the shifts and having top notch fitness centers and dormitories would help the monotony of putting together iPad camera modules all day—something along the lines of what Google or Facebook do with their complexes. Those companies don’t pay the best, but they make your situation comfortable and make up for it in the long run. Unfortunately, there is nothing to fix the immense boredom that factory line work entails.
Hopefully, those that are working in this way have children and those children are able to go on and get an education so that they don’t have to resort to factory work. Raising the pay to something of what we westerners would deem acceptable would be the equivalent of suddenly paying a McDonalds employee $100,00 a year to take your order. Their pay is relative to where they are and what they’re used to. China’s economy is booming and in time, their minimum wage jobs will be similar to ours in compensation. There will always be somebody more desperate and more willing to do a job for cheaper. If and when the Chinese won’t do these jobs, they will most likely pass on to Indonesia and India.
The suicides at the plants are terrible but not out of the ordinary statistically. The factories’ high towers seem to cater to a dramatic way to end one’s life. Personally, I believe those to be of individual issues and not derivative of the work. I hope that, anyways.
Ideally, I wish that these workers could live a life as comfortable as ours, and that we could in turn pay a premium for these products they make. Unfortunately, the world is not ideal, and the Chinese—and in this case, Foxconn—are the best solution.
My buddy sent me this today and now I’m not the same person.
I wish I had a kid so that I had an excuse to watch this on the reg. So adorably well done.
I’ve never seen anyone fringe a ring like that before.