Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Mar 2012 19:47 UTC
In the News "This American Life has retracted an episode that focused on working conditions inside a Foxconn iPad factory, calling the source material 'partially fabricated'. The episode - the most popular in TAL history with nearly a million streams - was partially based on the work of artist Mike Daisey, who apparently lied to fact-checkers about his experiences visiting Foxconn's facility. Some of the lies were discovered during an interview with Daisey's Chinese translator, who disputed the facts presented in his show and on the air."
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Sadly this is only the tip of the issue.
by jefro on Fri 16th Mar 2012 19:56 UTC
jefro
Member since:
2007-04-13

Almost all the products produced in the Asian theater are at the cost of human suffering and environmental impact. While some countries have done an OK job at wages and benefits and environmental issues, we continue to purchase this stuff without regard to it's source. It is almost impossible to live in the modern world without being part of this global disaster. Hopefully these countries will be forced to modernize their practices.

I have lived and traveled in some very poor countries before and know first hand that life in a "rich" country is not the same as a poor country.

Edited 2012-03-16 19:57 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Dr.Mabuse Member since:
2009-05-19

... It is almost impossible to live in the modern world without being part of this global disaster. Hopefully these countries will be forced to modernize their practices.


Therein lies the rub. Why is so much manufacturing located in Asia anyway? Obviously because it's cheap and profitable for companies to do so.

The day they are forced to manufacture the same way the west does (I mean wages, conditions, etc.) is the day that "outsourcing" and "globalisation" ceases to make ANY sense. Will this be allowed to happen?

Short of a full-on revolution occuring and deciding this course of action, I wouldn't hold my breath for companies to suddenly "do the right thing."

Reply Score: 1

really?
by TechGeek on Sat 17th Mar 2012 02:09 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

While I can believe this guy lied, and I understand conditions are bad everywhere in China, sticking your head in the sand doesn't make it ok. There is absolutely NO reason why Apple couldn't pay their workers in that factory more. They are making a crap ton of profit, they don't have to treat people like slaves. Walmart does the same shit. Walmart actually had China devalue their currency just to get a better margin. Some of us ARE willing to pay more to prevent abuses like this.

Reply Score: 5

RE: really?
by Tony Swash on Sat 17th Mar 2012 11:04 UTC in reply to "really?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

While I can believe this guy lied, and I understand conditions are bad everywhere in China, sticking your head in the sand doesn't make it ok. There is absolutely NO reason why Apple couldn't pay their workers in that factory more. They are making a crap ton of profit, they don't have to treat people like slaves. Walmart does the same shit. Walmart actually had China devalue their currency just to get a better margin. Some of us ARE willing to pay more to prevent abuses like this.


Leaving aside the silly iPhobic hyperbole which has, it has now been confirmed, been whipped up by deliberate lies there is an underlying set of assumptions in your comment which is widespread which is that somehow the current situation in China and the other emerging economies is awful and can only be changed by changes in the developed economies. In reality the changes that will make a real difference can only occur inside the societies in question, the key is the development of democratic political institutions, a free civil society and in particular free trade unions. I think, and hope, those things will come in China and elsewhere but the road to them could be very bumpy.

We need to to locate the current situation in an historical context. For almost all of human history, and for almost everyone who has ever lived, life was, and and still is for countless millions, relentlessly short and nasty. Most have lived lives utterly constrained by poverty, disease, premature death and oppression. None of these this bad things need explaining, they are the default condition of humanity. What needs explaining is how those things get removed, how and under what circumstances the mass of people can come to live longer, better, freer lives. If one looks at those societies that have made a transition from the conditions of mass poverty and human indignity to one of material wealth, longer and better fed lives, personal freedoms and human rights the paths they have taken are remarkably similar. Away from peasant rural life and a move into cities (old saying 'city air makes you free'), away from agricultural work and a move to industrial production, a move from oppressive and dictatorial social systems to ones based on democracy and human rights. The journey almost always happens in that order. Building a democracy or ending poverty whilst being based on a subsistence peasant economy is almost impossible.

In the last couple of decades over a billion people have been lifted out of abject poverty. That is am amazing achievement. Global life expectancy is now an astonishing 60 years. Progress in my lifetime has achieved more to improve more people's lives than in all of prior history.

The journey from subsistence rural economies to modern urban industrial ones is difficult and inevitable involves wrenching changes for countless millions, disruption and confusion, exploitation and abuse. But it is a journey that must be made otherwise most of humanity will remain stuck in the dreadful default condition in which it has lived and suffered for all of history. It is a journey we should applaud.

We are living through a fantastic revolution in the human condition. By all means point out what can improved but don't miss the woods for the trees.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: really?
by razor on Sat 17th Mar 2012 19:07 UTC in reply to "RE: really?"
razor Member since:
2010-01-13

im chinese and i couldnt agree more.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: really?
by Jondice on Sun 18th Mar 2012 16:03 UTC in reply to "RE: really?"
Jondice Member since:
2006-09-20

This sounds very Hobbesian; I'm not sure that the introduction of say, the industrial revolution, improved many lives. I can be quite certain that it made many worse. Most of us are certainly better off now than then.

Hobbes made the mistake of assuming the suffering he saw around him was the default human condition. For most of human existence (which I do not call history since it was prehistory and pre-agricultural), humans existed as hunter gatherers. Food was everywhere, there was no competition, no need for agriculture, no Malthusian constraints. The default human condition is unfortunately one we cannot easily afford now.

Lately you can find many science books on how the rise of agriculture has negatively influenced aspects of our life, from psychology to sex to general health.

Edited 2012-03-18 16:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: really?
by Tony Swash on Sun 18th Mar 2012 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: really?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

This sounds very Hobbesian; I'm not sure that the introduction of say, the industrial revolution, improved many lives. I can be quite certain that it made many worse. Most of us are certainly better off now than then.

Hobbes made the mistake of assuming the suffering he saw around him was the default human condition. For most of human existence (which I do not call history since it was prehistory and pre-agricultural), humans existed as hunter gatherers. Food was everywhere, there was no competition, no need for agriculture, no Malthusian constraints. The default human condition is unfortunately one we cannot easily afford now.

Lately you can find many science books on how the rise of agriculture has negatively influenced aspects of our life, from psychology to sex to general health.



Back in the prehistorical period, when things were apparently so groovy, average life expectancy was around 30, most women could expect multiple pregnancies starting in their teens, most of their children would die in infancy, very few people made it past 50, toothache or a broken bone could kill you. There has never been a golden period of human history except the current one as it is enjoyed by those societies that have made the transition to modern, urban, industrialised and democratic states.

Moving from the default condition of humanity - subsistence peasant farming, grinding poverty, early death, oppressive and arbitrary political power - is not easy and has it costs but what is the alternative? Nobody, except a few pathetic, ignorant and privileged dreamers in the west, wants to live their lives as peasants. It's a horrible way to live. Everybody on the planet, except a few pathetic, ignorant and privileged dreamers in the west, wants to live lives just like those that the mass of ordinary people do in the west.

The basic living condition of more people has significantly improved in the last 30 years than at any other period of history. Only the privileged think economic development is a bad thing. Progress has costs, protest and highlight them, seek to ameliorate them, but don't start pretending that this great adventure of human progress that is unfolding in places like China is a 'bad thing'.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: really?
by Jondice on Mon 19th Mar 2012 05:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: really?"
Jondice Member since:
2006-09-20

Note that I'm not talking about peasants; peasants imply the existence of an agricultural society which is where the problems start.

I recall hearing a statistic where the average height was also about 3 feet, because like life expectancy - everyone was counted. Including infants. True, modern hospitals and care do significantly increase the number of infants to reach adulthood, but I hardly think this should be weighted quite so heavily as it is in rating life expectancy and quality of life.

"Of folks who hit age 15, the percentage of hunter-gatherers who make it to age 45 is higher than the percentage of forager-horticulturalists who make it to age 45, but not by much – 64% to 61%. Acculturated hunter-gatherers excel here; 79% of their 15 year-olds make it to age 45. You might even say the study’s acculturated hunter-gatherers were essentially Primal, eating and moving traditionally while enjoying access to modern medicine.

From age 45, the mean number of expected remaining years of life is 20.7, 19.8, and 24.6 for hunter-gatherers, forager-horticulturalists, and acculturated hunter-gatherers, respectively. Give or take a few years, they could all “expect” to live about two decades if they were still alive by age 45 – a far cry from a “nasty, short, and brutish” existence.


Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/life-expectancy-hunter-gatherer/#ixz...
"

And the original article:
http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/papers/GurvenKaplan2007pdr....


I believe that if we are lucky science and modern medicine will win out against our other plights, but it isn't cheap, and we are running out of methods to expand our existing economies:
http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_gilding_the_earth_is_full.html
There are many diseases we get today, and many diseases we get in greater numbers, that aren't an issue in the few remaining forager/hunter/gatherer populations. Many of the diseases we get are no doubt related to stress from jobs. Humans used to be lazy, and didn't have to work all that hard to find food. They didn't have bosses, and spent over half their days doing very little work.


Each year, about 30000 new chemicals are introduced into our environments on average. Some in lesser quantities and some in greater. It adds up. Will it kill you? Probably not easily. Will they make you feel better ...ehh ... I doubt it.

Edited 2012-03-19 05:33 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Sat 17th Mar 2012 23:46 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

It's very easy to say that since Apple products are manufactured at that location, "Apple, this is your problem to fix". Hats off to people like Tony Swash who see these kinds of problems in their true context and don't just shoot from the hip hoping they hit something.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by Soulbender on Sun 18th Mar 2012 11:20 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"Apple, this is your problem to fix"


No it's not their problem but nothing Tony said justifies Apple exploiting the workers. If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem and Apple (and other companies doing this) are not part of the solution.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by ilovebeer
by Tony Swash on Sun 18th Mar 2012 14:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ilovebeer"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

""Apple, this is your problem to fix"


No it's not their problem but nothing Tony said justifies Apple exploiting the workers. If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem and Apple (and other companies doing this) are not part of the solution.
"

Rubbish. How could western companies boycotting China help anyone?

Ridiculous and vacuous moral posturing (with a dash of iPhobia thrown in for spice) is no substitute for engaging in a real analysis of the real world which often awkwardly reveals that the problems are complex and the solutions elusive and certainly not quick.

What seems to be missing is any acknowledgement of some basic facts:

a) The conditions of workers in factories making components for Apple are better than average.

b) Jobs in factories such as those run by Foxconn are are hugely sought after because they offer a better standard of living and better life opportunities than the alternatives.

c) The development of modern competitive industrial production in China, as exemplified by companies like Foxconn, has very significantly raised the GDP and standard of living of the Chinese.

d) All of the outrage whipped up around the issue of the conditions of workers in Apple's Chinese supply chain has, it turns out, been based on deliberate lies.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by ilovebeer
by Soulbender on Sun 18th Mar 2012 14:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ilovebeer"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

(with a dash of iPhobia thrown in for spice)


Where did I mention the iPhone?

a) The conditions of workers in factories making components for Apple are better than average.


Better than average does not mean that it's actually good.

c) The development of modern competitive industrial production in China, as exemplified by companies like Foxconn, has very significantly raised the GDP and standard of living of the Chinese


Raised by how much and for whom? China has had industrial production of cheap stuff for ages. When I was a kid in the 70's most toys was already manufactured in China.
Many, many factories (maybe not Foxconn) treats their employees terribly bad. Having lived in Asia for 10+ years and worked for companies with manufacturing in China I can say that the conditions for many (probably most) workers is so horrible it's hard to believe.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by ilovebeer
by Kivada on Sun 18th Mar 2012 16:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ilovebeer"
Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

Your fanboism is showing mate, take it from me, I've been an Apple lover since the IIe, but the Apple of today isn't the company I remember.

Apple has the pull to force Foxconn to improve their working conditions and pay, but they don't as they'd rather just pocket the excess profits in massive executive bonuses. You didn't see these kinds of situations back when the US economy was booming, the reason is simple, back when things where made in the US we had a very high marginal top marginal tax rate which caused the executives to not take the companies profits for themselves but to invest that money into expanding their company and strong employee unions that forced non union companies to at least come close to matching pay and working conditions in their shops by setting the bar so high at the companies they where at, if the US government hadn't started slashing top tax rates and union busting we where on track to have a 4 day work week by the 90's.

Now you may ask, WTF does that have to do with China? Well it has everything to do with China, in our current state of affairs china is the world's dumping ground for slave labor, sure the average quality of life in China has increased due to this, but it's nowhere near what it should be as the increase is due to the fact that they had a surplus of people and a shortage of jobs, in that situation any job is an improvement to your quality of life, but unless the Chinese government steps in somewhere this will plateau, especially if we in the west keep taking these economic hits we eventually wont be able to buy iPads anymore and the Chinese will essentially be back where they started.

If I had to guess though, the Chinese government, not being stupid realizes that they have the ability to crush the world if they can build out their infrastructure and and with it their economy, they already have all the factories and tech on the planet, it wouldn't be too hard to strong arm the rest or the world into what they want with a trade war in the next few years, they only need to be built out to the point that the Chinese people can keep their own economy afloat while they hammer the rest of the world's economies harder then they currently do.

Reply Score: 4