Well Mr. Daisey, you have succeeded. You’ve filled the role of catalyst that has resulted in a morning spent sitting here at my desk, typing away on my macbook, listening to my iPhone and contemplating the atrociousness that is mankind. But do not get confused; you have prompted me neither to write a strongly worded letter to Jobs’ grave, nor to turn my back on Apple products. Rather, you have simply opened my eyes to the horrid working conditions and lifestyles of overseas factory workers. I must admit that prior to listening to this podcast, I was guilty of hearing of these conditions and choosing not to consider the ethics tied to them, and to every other terrible thing that goes into creating the first world’s leisure products, toys, what have you.
When Daisey noted that a massive variety of electronics were manufactured at the Foxconn plant in the very beginning of the podcast, I realized that he could just as easily have replaced the word “Apple” with “Dell”, “Samsung”, or “Sony”. I think he may have realized that had he done this, his message would not be as strong as it was. He was smart to target the cult that is “mac” because members of this tech-savvy following tend to view Apple with a halo hovering above it. “Steve Jobs was a genius”, “Apple is the best quality PC on the market”, and of course the inevitable “cool” factor of owning Apple products seem to embedded in every loyal follower’s mind. When he exposed that Apple follows the same manufacturing process as other, “inferior” electronics, Daisey internally wounded those who want to believe in the goodness that is Apple.
As much as this hurts to ask, are we really surprised with Apple’s manufacturing techniques? Let’s face it, if they had reputable manufacturing processes we would know. In today’s marketing environment, any smart company would milk the marketing potential of their fair policies and work environments in hopes of appealing to a larger market. Additionally, their already high prices would undoubtedly skyrocket if Apple products were manufactured in the US where minimum wage is significantly higher than it is in China. As first world consumers, are we willing to make that sacrifice for peace of mind? The truth of the matter is that Apple has to manufacture in locations like China in order to remain competitive in the market. Contrary to Daisey’s rant against Apple, I believe that we should instead question the morality of overseas manufacturing as a whole. We can call the point that all developing economies must go through a manufacturing stage into question, but that is another debate. For now, the most important thing is to keep Daisey’s report in perspective.