Like many of you I’m sure, I am typing this on my Macbook. As I write this I am listening to my iPod and being interrupted by my cousin texting me on my iPhone. It wasn’t until I was reading the New York Times via my iPhone that I found myself in a very ironic position. I came across an article (from January 25th 2012) that investigated the extremely poor conditions that exist in factories within China; these factories are of course manufacturing Apple products. I continued to read the article without much thought until I looked at the crack in my iPhone screen. Broken? No problem, I can get it fixed. It’s just a piece of technology; it will serve me for the next little while and soon I will move on to the next iPhone once this one is outdated….
After sitting on the article for a while…and sitting on my MacBook Pro…I thought to myself…this computer was assembled piece by piece by individuals who work for (as the NY Times article stated) about twenty-two dollars a day. I make that in two hours at my low paying student job.
Charles Duhigg and David Barboza, both apparently respective authors in their respective fields, wrote the article. I ignored the article for a while. It wasn’t again until January 27th that I read an article (via the same cracked iPhone) discussing Apple CEO, Tim Cook and his response to what Duhigg and Barboza had written. It seemed that Cook was none-to-pleased. The original article stated that a fire had rolled through a Foxconn factory in China killing two and injuring dozens. Foxconn is an electronic manufacturing company that in this case was making iPads and iPhones. The article followed investigations that had been done on the factories; awful working conditions, crammed dorms, punishments for being late and low pay. This is what Cook had to say in an email to all of his employees:
“Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers.”-Cook
I wonder if the workers in China got that email.
So, should I, as a 21 year-old female with a bunch of Apple products really care? Should my roommate with her Macbook care? Should my other two roommates with HP laptops care? How do I know this is valid information? What about the people who sleep out on the streets to be first in line for he next Apple product. Should I boycott my Apple products? I might as well boycott my car for destroying the environment then. Is this the truth? Can I trust these ‘respective’ authors? Their New York Times biography seemed to make them seem pretty dignified. I am not stating that they are not; I am just stating what the New York Times said.
It doesn’t seem that this article was exploiting a story that people probably could have not already guessed was happening. I don’t really feel like that is what the article was maybe getting at. Although its main purpose was to investigate what is really going on with factories in China manufacturing Apple product, there is more to it. It challenges how we, as consumers, simply disregard the facts. I feel guilty when I don’t have enough change to put in the tip jar at my favourite coffee shop. So should I feel guilty for typing this on my Californian designed product, which was made in China but complies with the Canadian Class B specifications? Go ahead, flip your Mac over. What does your HP say? Or your Vaio laptop? I’m fairly certain they are not Canadian made. Should we as Canadian consumers worry about what’s going on in China? How would it have made a difference if we really did worry or not. I guess what I am trying to get at is whether you would be more inclined to buy a Canadian made piece of technology, even if it meant giving up and idiot-proof user system and the labels.
Link to the original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-ipad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all