Apple has been in the news a lot lately, and not just beating the human birthrate in fourth-quarter iphone sales. Word is getting out about working conditions at the Foxconn plant in China, for instance. This American Life had an interesting piece on the same topic last month.
But let me make this perfectly clear: Apple is not the problem. Mr. Daisey, in the This American Life piece, makes it clear that these factories in China don’t build just Apple products. they build virtually all of the personally electronic devices we all like.
And it is not enough that we all like, and have mostly convinced ourselves need, these phones and tablets and netbooks etc. Most of us have also convinced ourselves of these two things
- that we deserve newer and better devices approximately every year and
- that we ought not have to pay very much for them.
Because we want newer and better gadgets at incredibly cheap prices, China (and other countries) will continue to work people in conditions you and I would never agree to work in.
Apple is not the problem. We are.
Are you willing to update your phone every 3 years instead of every year or 18 months? Would you be willing to pay maybe twice as much for a tablet computer or netbook or ultrabook?
Does decent working conditions and fairer wages figure at all into your willingness?
I decided about six years ago that I would buy only fair trade coffee. Thus, I felt, I was doing something to help the people who actually farm the coffee to live better lives.
Would I be willing to purchase only fair trade electronics if there were such a thing?