After listening to the podcast, it felt strange when I picked up my Apple iPhone and sent a message to a friend about playing basketball last night. I turned the phone over and read the miniscule print “Assembled in China.” It’s chilling to now know that the statement really means “assembled in a plant of 430,000 workers of whom many are 12-14 year olds who have been exposed to N Hexane so much that their hands will be ruined by the time I begin my future job.” Of course I knew that these types of work environments existed, but I never bothered to research it and learn more about the vivid and gruesome details. It is one thing to hear someone say there are sweatshops or assembly lines overseas that treat workers poorly, but it is another for a person to put a clear image in your mind of workers jumping off buildings or dying from 34 hours of nonstop mindless work in grueling conditions. I thought the beginning of the podcast was both humorous and effective in painting the picture of our relationship with the products we use. Mr. Daisey really got his obsession and love of Apple products across to his audience with his tone and delivery, which set up what was to come next perfectly. I enjoyed his crack, “until I started to think, and that’s always a problem, for any religion” in particular. His blind love and faith in Apple products was unraveled with the scary truth that he decided to investigate.
For me it isn’t to an erotic extreme of course, which has Mr. Daisey disassembling his MacBook into 43 pieces to find tranquility and satisfaction. However from my own experience, I have found Apple products to be clean, sexy, and sleek like him. I haven’t met many who would disagree with me. They are and have been the hot products for quite some time and their intuitiveness works wonders for both the tech savvy people as well as old fashioned folk like my mom and dad. Apple has hooked its consumer. The relationship we have with our products and the companies that make them is only a surface connection however. In reality, deep down, what Apple, and other companies, is doing is very disturbing. After listening to Mr. Daisey, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between Apple and Jason Bateman (Christian Bale) in American Psycho. The film is about a well off investment banking executive living in a minimalist style apartment in New York City, who is obsessed with his physical appearance and cleanliness, yet underneath it all has a secret life as a psychopath and murderer. People are incredibly attracted to him and his surface image. The image the company gives off, similarly to Bateman, isn’t the whole story. Apple, and other technological companies like it, knows their story and all the details of their business. They just turn their heads the other way and see what they want to see- a less costly and thus more profitable business.
Despite this immorality, people fail to ask questions. They enjoy their iPads, iPhones, and iPods assuming (like myself and Daisey initially) that technological products aren’t made by people but rather robots and machines. And yet, the reality is that they are made by people, and as stated in the podcast – “there is more of a human touch to products than ever before.” This won’t change. Companies will outsource as long as their competitors do too. If everyone does it, the perception is that it becomes more of the norm and less of a terrible thing. I believe people making these decisions high up in companies don’t mind outsourcing and doing what they can to minimize cost because they feel less involved and detached from these plants and factories on the other side of the world. This is utterly false, as they facilitate it and are to blame. Just because a successful organization is moving in a profitable direction doesn’t mean it is the right one. While it is great that Apple is now checking its plants like FoxConn to make sure there aren’t any underage workers or unruly practices going on, it’s hard to say this is making any bit of a difference seeing as they themselves can’t be checked. For there to be a better society, there needs to be more leaders like Mr. Daisey, who aren’t just smart, answer questions, and make companies profitable, but who are willing to ask questions and risk getting beat up by security guards at FoxConn, or worse, for a greater cause.
In terms of additional information, I’d love to know some percentages. How many of the technological companies are similar to Apple, Samsung, etc. in terms of exploiting Chinese workers? It stated at the end of the podcast that Indonesia was even worse than China. What horrible things happen there and what companies are responsible?