Daisy Daisy, An iPhone Built for You

Mike Daisy’s story is very persuasive and as he said himself, “I am a storyteller.” I am not saying that I disagree with what he has said, but since he is not a journalist, I question the validity of his entire story. When I want my news, my first choice isn’t a “large, American, wearing a goddamn Hawaiian shirt.” Even at the end of the podcast, they bring in experts to validate or debunk Daisy’s claims. But specific details aside, I would like to discuss the overarching message throughout Daisy’s speech.

As a consumer I have a cognitive dissonance when I chose my items. I do not morally support child labor or oppressive working conditions, but I may financially support them since I do not research production conditions of every item I buy. Since I am typing this on a keyboard made in china and reading it on a monitor made there as well, apparently I do support them. I am in complete agreement with Mike in his unfounded assumption of automated production lines for most electronic products. It scares me that, as Mike put it, Foxcom makes 1/3 of everything and I have never heard of them. This is not by chance or luck either, I haven’t heard of them for the same reason that the Reuters journalist was beaten by the Foxcom guards, they don’t want us to hear about them. It is all about the image.

Public image is more of a priority than the health and working conditions of workers, at the companies that Daisy visited. This is exemplified by the large guarded gates and grass lawn leading up to the factories, followed by the ostentatiously large lobby occupied only by a single desk. While directly behind that lobby, there is a single workspace filled with 30,000 workers standing shoulder to shoulder in silence. This mistreatment of workers makes you wonder why no one has done anything. But what can I do? Other than researching where companies get their products from and how they are made, how can I make a difference? We won’t likely hear if conditions improve from those in the factories, due to the government approved blacklist. And the inspectors will see what the companies want them to see on their regularly scheduled visits. Fully automated production will surely lower in cost in the near future and I will be able to purchase these products guilt free. But while I can enjoy these products knowing that they were produced humanely, what jobs will there be for these workers then? Will they truly be better off?


6 responses to “Daisy Daisy, An iPhone Built for You

  1. I visited China early this summer and I can attest to the layout of the companies. Everything is meticulously clean and quiet. I got the haunting feeling that it was all a facade, covering something dirty. Similarly, I agree with your despair of what to do about the bad working conditions. While I don’t agree with his rationale, Krugman was right about these conditions being a stepping stone for growing a country’s economy. The Chinese have steadily raised their hourly rate and standard of living, based on the increase in GDP. The factory conditions haven’t gotten much better, but the possibility that future generations will be better off offers some solace.

  2. I had a similar feeling about Daisey’s “storyteller” persona as I was listening to the podcast. Although a rehearsed performance, the description seemed lacking in details and used imagery more like a novel than a investigative report. At the end of the show, I wondered, how did he find the people he talked to? Who were they? If he was there as a potential businessman, why didn’t it seem odd to people that he was interviewing line workers? Overall, I wholly agree with you that the source of this “news” seems a bit untrustworthy.

  3. At the conclusion of the podcast I too was left asking myself what I could do to bring change. As you mentioned, researching where products are made before purchasing is one step we can take as consumers. Unfortunately, the chances that this actually takes place every time we make a purchase is slim to none. I agree that due to the government approved blacklist it will be difficult for us to hear where working conditions stand in these factories. Sadly, I believe that as long as China continues to see economic growth and inspectors are shown an idealized version of what is taking place, it will be a decent amount of time until we see change.

  4. I am struggling with the storyteller aspect of Mike Daisy’s presentation on the podcast. I think that his ability to tell the story descriptively added to the listening experience but I am not positive that it was an entirely good addition. I have thought a lot about it and agree that maybe being a storyteller wasn’t the best way to present himself. It made him seem under qualified. Maybe a more formal investigative report would have helped, but I think that the storyteller presentation didn’t help Daisy’s validity.

  5. Studies have been done that show companies that invest in their employees and that uphold a certain standard are ultimately better in the long run. While Chinese factories have deplorable conditions now, like American ones did decades ago, I believe they will be most successful if they become more socially sound environments. You’re right that improvements in factories will bring automation which will displace workers, as it has in the United States. However, when workers are displaced, they are required to creatively reinvent their skill set, which helps the economy evolve.

  6. I think your post highlights the point that this is not just an issue with Foxconn. The American economy has transitioned from export to import and a majority of the goods we consume every day are produced in other countries. This is not to say that all of the imported goods in this country are produced under harsh conditions, but there are certainly alot of them and they don’t all come from China. It really just makes me feel hopeless about the whole situation because it is not unique to the technology industry or China. It is a universal problem that needs to be addressed universally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s