Mr. Daisey Takes a Bite of the Poisonous Apple

Featuring Mr. Daisey in this Podcast was an excellent way to add entertainment to a tale of a very popular company and their exploitative tendencies.  For the nearly forty-five minutes where Mr. Daisey was recounting his trip to China to explore the Foxconn factory conditions I was engaged and listening closely.  Many of us have heard at one point or another that a most important quality to have is to be able to tell good stories.  Mr. Daisey was able to add animation and humor to a very serious matter which allowed to the audience to be enraptured by his words.  His words were funny and his ability to incorporate humor throughout a solemn matter is commendable.  The piece was also moving.  Hearing Mr. Daisey recount conversations he had with ‘Cathy,’ his translator and various factory workers made the situation much more depressing yet real.  Matching real conversations and descriptions to the rumored conditions infuriated me as a listener.

Throughout the past academic year I have read many articles about the conditions of Foxconn and different factories that Apple uses to do manufacture their products.  It is highly disappointing that such a well-off, inspirational company is funding such poor working conditions and exploitation.  If this company wasn’t so popular though, I doubt the scrutiny would be so harsh.  Many other companies which we depend just as heavily on may be responsible for similar situations but since Apple is at the top of the technology food chain, Apple is targeted.  Personally, I researched Disney for a paper and noted similar factory conditions to those of Foxconn.

One of the most moving points of the story in my opinion when was the factory worker saw Mr. Daisey’s iPad ‘on’ for the first time.  He spent a plethora of hours manufacturing this product yet had never seen the finished product. When he finally turned it on, he described the device as ‘magical.’  To many Americans, iPods/iPhones/iPads are seen as ordinary but the people who actually put the devices together aren’t able to enjoy the finished product.  His reaction reminded me of the first time I used my iPhone and I would wonder constantly how someone could possibly create this.  Learning about the workers and the working conditions these workers face, makes my perception of the company take on a much more negative light.

Something that would be interesting to look at now after hearing the Podcast would be how Apple customers view the company after gaining full knowledge about the factory conditions in China.  Would more elusive knowledge and understanding change the desire for Apple products?  Unfortunately, I am not sure that it would.  Our (current American society) relationships with products is so essential in our day-to-day lives that our reliance on these products may not be changed by the truth, even if the truth is putting the lives of others in danger.


6 thoughts on “Mr. Daisey Takes a Bite of the Poisonous Apple

  1. I don’t think that knowing the working conditions would have too much of an impact on Apple supporters. This is because there is no where for them to go. All of these electronics companies do similar things so their is no champion company for consumers going to. Therefore, customers can either support a company where they like their products less, or continue to support Apple. Of course people could not buy electronics at all to show their distatste with the wallet but I do not think this will happen.

  2. I find a consumers ability to overlook ethical business practices to be disturbing. But it really emphasizes the role our “crap,” as Daisey calls it, plays in our lives. Although it’s unfortunate that American consumers are willing to overlook the working conditions in countries like China, I think it’s interesting that the majority of this backlash is aimed at Americans. European nations similarly support companies that manufacture their products in low-cost countries. So this whole debate, to me, begs a the question of whether this is a first-world problem, or a global dilemma.

  3. I agree with your opinion that Apple is targeted for it’s brand popularity. Other high tech manufacturing firms like HP, Dell, Samsaung also do outsourcing in Asia and the working conditions of all factories in Asia are more or less the same. I was horrified after hearing this podcast but the technology has become an essential part of my life that I can’t just throw away my iphone or macbook. And the Chinese government also doesn’t care much about its people. Ethically speaking, Apple is responsible for promoting welfare of Chinese factory workers but doing so will raise the price of the products that the Americans have to pay for it. Business ethics do not specify which public should be protected and serving both “public” at the same time is impossible.

  4. I too experienced the initial reactions to the podcast as you did, but I think it is really important to take the “rebuttals” at the end into consideration. The station that featured Daisey’s podcast did some fact checking and found that just 12 Foxconn workers committed suicide (a really small ratio when compared with the amount of workers there and the overall suicide rate in China), and that upon finding out about the child labor (people lie on applications) Apple actually took them out of the factories and is now paying for their educations. Obviously there are problems with Foxconn and overseas manufacturing in general, but I can’t help but wonder if there is some truth to the remark that economies have to go through a manufacturing stage in order to evolve.

  5. Apple production methods in Shen Zhen just show how true the notion of everything not being as good as it seems is. Apple is the model company, an empire in the tech world and a company that is only growing and expanding its customer base. But no matter how much brand equity you have, you can always fall from grace, and Apple executives need to make sure that their relationship with FoxConn is not the reason that that occurs.

  6. I also think my favorite part of the radio show was when Mr. Daisey showed the Foxconn worker his working iPhone, and described her excitement. This really gives a clear example of how specialized each job really is. For that particular girl, her only job was to polish screens. Think about the worker who assembles motherboards. He might not even know what a motherboard is, and less likely where that computer chip will end up. While specialization is definitely more efficient, we run into problems when workers feel insignificant and cant see the bigger picture they are involved in.

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