Chinese takeout

Anyone besides me reading The New York Times series on the iEconomy?

Jesus. I feel like having a houseful of Apple products is the equivalent of standing outside a Foxconn factory and yelling, “Jump! Jump! Jump!”

Unhappy Mac

If you think this iMac is unhappy, you should see the Chinese who made it.

One of my Wall Street PowerBooks was assembled in Ireland, so there was a time when Cupertino preferred Irish slaves to Chinese. And the 12-year-old Pismo on the shelf behind me came from Taiwan. But all the rest of this iStuff comes from mainland China, and the production thereof is strictly from Upton Sinclair.

If you’ve not been following the series, here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

The articles make it clear that Apple is not the only miscreant in the high-tech industry, and note the company’s attempts to nudge its suppliers toward creating more humane conditions for their workers.

But still, damn. Can’t say it makes me want to dash out and upgrade the old iPhone 3GS.

10 Responses to “Chinese takeout”

  1. Steve O Says:

    For whatever reason this story hit a whole bunch of outlets at the same time.

    But with a couple of different spins.

    Most focused on the working conditions.

    But the isaacson interview seemed to indicate that cheap labor was secondary to worker qualifications. Our schools just ain’t producing kids who can put chip A into Slot B.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The scary thing to me was what companies were willing to do to latch onto Apple’s sugar tit for what looks like pretty low margin. “Shit-yeah, we’ll build a factory with dorms, noodle shops, the works. Got a telepath who’ll know what you need before you do. Don’t sweat the aluminum-powder explosions, there’s a lot more of us where I come from, and we love us some 60-hour weeks, especially the kiddies.”

    • John Says:

      You’re absolutely right, Steve. “This American Life” did an hour on this story a couple weeks ago (, and even “The Daily Show” did a bit one day a week or so back. I don’t buy that this is all a coincidence. I strongly suspect that one of Apple’s competitor’s has seen a vulnerability here, a wedge to use to diminish Apple’s reputation among its users, who are probably the same demographic most likely to be appalled by the abuses at Foxconn.

      Whatever PR firm is getting the word out on these abuses isn’t doing it for humanitarian reasons, they’re doing it so their clients can go after Apple’s market share.

      Still, glad I don’t have an Apple anything, I’m using a Dell. Oh, wait, what’s that? Foxconn makes components for Dell and HP too? Odd that this minor detail wasn’t mentioned more often.

      • Steve O Says:

        Yeah, the TAL guys beat the Times by two weeks. PRI has been doing good work across the board. TAL, Marketplace, Freakonomics, RadioLab, and Dinner Party Download. Better than anything on the TeeVee machine.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I suspect the leakage is coming from an Apple supplier, perhaps Foxconn, trying to get a little leverage on the Black Turtleneck Mob.

        “Sorry, Cupertino running dogs, but we’re not gonna take the whole rap for this computer concentration camp you’ve got us running for chump change. Kick a bit more of the Dead President Trading Cards our way and maybe we let the slaves have another cookie and a cuppa between aluminum-dust explosions.”

    • Ira Says:

      OG might have more information on this, but it’s my understanding media outlets don’t do much investigation any more, they just buy stories from the lowest bidder. My guess is this came in at a good price, and everyone picked it up because everything “Apple” is topical right now.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Ira, newspapers these days are in the hurt locker. They don’t have much in the way of money or staff, so what you get from the Dogtown Daily Dispatch is a mix of canned copy (horoscopes, comics, columns), wire-service news (shit that happens someplace else) and a smattering of local news (cops, courts, school boards, city council). The only time you see what used to be called “enterprise” stories comes around awards time.

        That said, The New York Times is one of the last great papers. They still maintain a strong national and international presence and, despite cuts throughout the operation, deliver a superior product.

        Doing journalism about outfits like Apple, which is notoriously secretive, takes shoe leather, brains, time and money. Also top-notch editors and top-shelf lawyers. It doesn’t happen overnight, is what I’m saying.

        And once word leaks out that the NYT is sniffing around, a smart guy starts working on damage control. One way to do that is to see that no one outlet — particularly the one working on the original story — gets an exclusive. Spread that shit around, print, radio, TV, the Innertubes, and by the time the “scoop” hits the street it doesn’t pack as much of a wallop. And other news organizations are less likely to follow up, because by then it will be “old news.”

  2. Larry T. Says:

    I was wondering when/if you’d be commenting on this. The story makes it seem that, more than the others, I-shit depends on the slave-labor conditions to enable them to crank out another new gizmo even before you get tired of the current one. And the other insult is instead of sharing the profits of slave labor with their customers via lower prices, the rat-bastards do the opposite and charge MORE! I’ve never been a fan of Mac anything and after reading these articles I’m even more likely to avoid anything sold by these people. I doubt these articles are part of a competitor’s smear job, more of a “let’s pop the ridiculous bubble of superiority surrounding the cult of Mr. Jobs and Co.” by some journalists.

  3. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Late update: Mother Jones is working on something, too. While we wait for it, check out the nifty iPhone graphic. These smartphones are Satan’s little helper.

  4. Ryan Says:

    I saw the picture in the NY Times of workers installing chainlink on the stairwells at the “dormitories” to keep employees from Jumping. Really Foxconn? rather than making it more difficult to jump to their death how about making a work environment more friendly for your employees so they would not feel the need to freakn jump in the first place. And if that means actually standing up for humane working conditions when negotiating with black turtleneck mob then so be it.

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