I split my time listening to “Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory” between my iPod Touch and my Dell laptop. I was also wearing clothes, the labels of which I felt immediately compelled to check. Made in China, made in Mexico. In fact, I started looking through all of my clothes, and it took me longer than I would have liked to find something made in the USA. I will own to the fact that I rarely give the origin of my possessions a second thought, instead focusing on the benefit that they provide to me. That said, I was unsurprised by the majority of the content of Mr. Daisy’s show. People know what a sweat shop is, and what goes on there. We know that China has them in abundance, and while I would like to say that hearing about the working conditions in Shenzhen horrified me, I found myself listening to Mr. Daisy and thinking, of course they have child workers. This is China.
My reaction to Mr. Daisy’s story lacks the justifiable outrage that I feel the situation warrants. I cannot bring myself to rise to the level of social indignation that would move me to attempt to affect any actual change. Corporations exist to make profits. Those that are concerned for the welfare of their workers seem to be the exception, not the rule. I recognize that this is a pessimistic attitude, but when you pair a capitalist society of customers with a communist society of workers, it isn’t difficult to imagine which will benefit more. The news is full of stories of outsourcing jobs- most recently, the furor over the manufacturing origin of the US Olympic uniforms. The fact is, outsourcing is cheaper, and companies know it. Apple puts on a good show, but ultimately they are out to cut costs and increase profits.
I think that many Americans have a “see no evil” approach to the relationships we have with our products and possessions. As long as our things function as expected, we are content. If something does not work, we are inclined to curse the company and the brand, rather than think about the worker who assembled the product. Also, I do not know if I find the idea of a sweat shop economy as a stepping stone to 1st world status deplorable, or having some merit. I would be interested in reading more research on that particular idea.