White Paper Proposal 3 – Government


For my third white paper proposal, I am looking into government sources. For my governmental sources, I am looking into the United Nations, the European Union, and human rights policies in China. Looking over these governmental sites, it is clear that these countries are all operating with different focuses on human trafficking issues. Continue reading

..But what if my job doesn’t want to go to China?


It was actually pretty easy finding pictures about outsourcing labor. The hard part was limiting which ones I could post about. I really became attracted to the topic of outsourcing labor and whether or not it is considered economically beneficial. I have found a lot of information regarding the pros and cons and feel like I’m pretty ready to tackle the issue. The first picture I chose was from a worker strike in 2007 against Disney World in Orlando Florida. Contractors from Disney World were accused of firing hundreds of employees and replacing them with illegal immigrants. They have also been hiring outside companies to do jobs that were originally given to current workers and getting rid of their jobs left and right. Six unions banded together outside of Disney World’s gates and 29,000 members raised awareness of the outsourcing of labor that Disney has been involved in. I was definitely surprised to see that Disney was a part of the outsourcing labor phenomena and I will most likely be using this example as part of my white paper. The final picture I found, I couldn’t resist posting. Thanks to google images once again, I came across a dozen of hilarious pictures about the topic of outsourcing. This one was my particular favorite.  It’s amazing how the addition of the word “humor” to a current search bar search can change the types of images that come up. You have to love cartoon humor.

America’s manufacturing


While searching through the “freshly pressed” section, I came across a very interesting blog about American manufacturing.  The blog is titled simplyamericadotnet and it reviews the current situation with jobs in the manufacturing sector of the US economy.  The most recent post is about how there are many manufacturing jobs available right now, but not enough certified people to fill them.  Although this is currently the case, larger numbers of Americans are completing certifications required for these jobs.  The author thinks there are several reasons why people don’t consider manufacturing jobs while searching for employment.  These have to do with the stereotypes associated with college degrees and which jobs pay well.  The majority of his other posts are also focused on American manufacturing, as he is currently writing a book about creating jobs in the US manufacturing sector called, “Simply Life.”

Continue reading

$65 per phone? Not likely (labor costs, fairness, profit)


The question of what is a fair return to workers for manufactured goods is a complex one in the details, but, often, a simple on in terms of gut-check ethics.

Valerie, in an excellent comment, on Nyein’s post, pointed out that the journalist (not an expert, but reporting on expertise) in the “Retraction” episode mentioned iPhones might be $65 more if made in the US.  That struck me as too high, so I checked it out.  Now, cost data on products is usually hard to find as it can be strategically important.  So, this involves a lot of guesswork.

First, an analyst, Horace Deidu,  made a good estimate of labor costs.

This leaves about 17 hours unaccounted for in the throughput time. Could this time be spent in labor intensive operations? In the ABC report the wage of workers on the line is given as $1.78/hr[4]. 17 hours of labor input would imply $30 labor cost per iPhone.

So,17 hours per phone. Continue reading

Apple as a Religion


Apple Believer: “Apple as a religion—how true. As an avid Apple fan, I am constantly wondering what Apple’s new innovative technology will be created next. Similarly to religion, I associate certain traditions with Apple—sleek interfaces, easy handling and an ever-present cool factor. I am always thinking about the unknowns and the things that Apple keeps so secret. Steve Jobs and the inventive pioneers at Apple are similar to preachers, creating for us, their consumers. They show us what we want before we even know ourselves. In some ways it is like a belief system. I trust whole-heartedly that the next Apple product will be brilliant, inventive and world-changing. I don’t just want that new piece of technology, I need it.

So why is it a problem when you start to think about the Apple religion? Is it right to just blindly believe what we want to believe, and turn our backs to some of the truths about the religion? Religions often involve a set of ethics and values. As an Apple consumer, I would hope that Apple holds themselves to high ethical standards. But do they?”

Daisey: “Shenzhen is a city of history”

From the mind of Mike Daisey


“But I do know that in my first two hours of my first day at that gate, I met workers who were fourteen years old, I met workers who were thirteen years old, I met workers who were twelve.  Do you really think Apple doesn’t know?”….

 

How am I convincing myself that this audience doesn’t know about ME?  Do these people know that I am making this up, that I’m a fraud? Was the 16 year-old I ACTUALLY met not young enough to shock these people?  Why did I have to keep pushing the limit?  Maybe if I just tone down the monologue I can get away with it until the end the tour sooner?

 

“In a company obsessed with the details, with the aluminum being milled just so, with the glass being fitted perfectly into the case, do you really think it’s credible that they don’t know?”….

 

Why am I criticizing Apple for not caring about the details in this case when I barely did in “reporting” on it! I should be obsessed with details.  I’m pretending to be a journalist for god’s sakes!  But, I’m not a journalist.  This is art, this is theatre! Is all the work I did going to be for naught when the truth comes out? I know this isn’t 100% truthful but at least I went over there, at least I saw the workers and saw the suicide nets.  Am I just justifying the betrayal of my audiences?  Do I come clean now or wait until the truth comes out.  Oh no, what have I gotten myself into….

Apple, Interrupted


 

“Hold on a minute!” [Foxconn employee runs onstage] “Mr. Daisey, how many workers did you actually talk to? Because I work at the Foxconn plant, and a lot of what you’re saying just isn’t true. I’m actually grateful to Foxconn and Apple for providing me with work. I don’t have any special skills, and without this plant, I wouldn’t be able to earn enough to support my family. The work is honest, it isn’t overly dangerous, and it’s giving me the chance to provide a better life for my family.”

[employee walks closer to Mr. Daisey] “We don’t have any children working in my section of the factory, and I haven’t heard of any working in other parts. Sometimes we Chinese look younger than we are to you Westerners, but don’t project your cultural bias onto us.” [turn to the audience] The guards at the gates don’t have guns- in China, only the military and government workers can carry firearms. And we don’t sleep cramped in dorm rooms. I go home at night to see my family, who I’m able to feed thanks to Foxconn.” [turns back to Mr. Daisey] “Before you go making up stories, why don’t you actually do some research, instead of pulling together stories that you’ve heard from other plants. I’m glad that Foxconn is here, and I’m happy to have a job.”

Dorm Room Diaries


So here I am, sitting at my standard wooden desk, in my typical cement-walled dorm room, at my classic American university listening to the Daisy Retraction podcast from The American Life through the silver speakers of my Macbook Pro. Did I feel a little guilty when the original podcast warned me that the solution that once cleaned this beautiful Macbook Pro might have caused the hands of Chinese workers to shrivel and melt? Yeah, duh.

After hearing the retraction, that feeling of guilt has not disappeared. But it has been slightly overshadowed by a feeling of deception. Like I had been forced to feel helpless regarding the horrible events at Foxconn, forced to accept these terrible working conditions, and even forced to question my position in the world and my decisions in life. I may be a little overzealous in this reaction, but mustering words to describe feelings is a difficult task.

So, here are some of my original thoughts from the first podcast: “Let me get this straight – there were security guards… with guns? What is this, a scene from Prison Break? I think about even the secured French embassy in DC where I had to apply for a French visa for study abroad. They had a guard at the gate and my parents were forced to wait outside for me. But that guard was about as ferocious as a mall cop. But guns – guns evoke fear, even when I can’t see them for myself, or feel the stern eyes of the guards watching me as I pass though the gates.”

In reflection, it seems absurd. My reaction was clearly influenced by my personal prejudices as an American teen who is accustomed to democracy and red, white and blue and all that shit. We have this image of China as a communist nation and apparently it involves gunmen standing outside of office campuses. How would I feel if there were gunmen standing outside the gates of Bucknell, keeping me inside this little dorm room of mine – or maybe their purpose would be to keep other people out.

But anyway, who does Daisey think he is? How can he sleep at night knowing that he played off this irrational image and further solidified this absurd and over-exaggerated pre-conceived notion of how China is run? Or was his goal not to encourage anti-China sentiments, but instead to cast a dark shadow on American enterprise? Guilt, fear, deception. It’s all there. But what can we, as American consumers, really feel guilty about? Can the image of an armed guard standing outside a building on the other side of the world really induce fear? And did Daisey really deceive us, or force us to pay attention to what was really going on? After all, the truth about Foxconn did have to surface eventually.