Mike Daisey’s account of his trip to the Foxconn trip is undoubtedly moving, both in it’s portrayal of harsh working conditions, and in the description of a hierarchy that is designed to keep the lower class down until death. Many parts of his monologue show us the perils of fully embracing the technologic renaissance we are currently going through. While many will prosper, it is easy to forget those who basically become slaves so that we can enjoy the omnipresent technologies around us. This reminded me of Mill’s ideas of troubles and issues. I gripe when I am forced into the library for hours at a time, not out of indifference, but of my own personal well-being. When you have nets being erected because of large amounts of employee suicide, that is an issue. Although isolated to one specific location, the conditions at Foxconn should be terrible enough to question the social structure of labor in China.
It’s important to note, however, that Apple is far from the only company guilty from outsourcing labor to areas whose practice are suspect. Obviously Apple is high profile, but so many companies that involve manufacturing do the same thing, and many times it’s at our own cost. Take Wal-Mart, for example. Their breadth has grown so wide that they can literally dictate the prices they pay from other companies. They lowball these companies with the threat that they will stop carrying that companies product, which for many companies would be crippling. Either way, the outside company loses. Whether it be selling at an ultra-low price, or no longer being carried in Wal-Mart, that company loses, and it often means cutting American jobs.
Apple has at least hired the Fair Labor Association to investigate working conditions at Foxconn, with measurable results. Many companies have yet to do anything, and its important to note.