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Workers Poisoned Making Touchscreen Hardware

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the welcome-to-the-jungle dept.

Cellphones 260

SocResp writes "A chemical called n-hexane has been poisoning the nervous systems of Chinese workers who assemble touchscreen devices for Apple and other companies, an investigative journalist from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. It's scary to think that people are being damaged to pursue high production rates. For companies with soaring profits and share prices, and elaborate product development and marketing, it seems they should be all the more culpable if they fail to take care of the production workers."

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This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (5, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 years ago | (#34068522)

Production lines in other countries don't incur the cost of US worker-safety regulations.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068702)

People always whine about poor working conditions in 3rd world countries, but then end up buying their products anyway because they're cheaper. I do that too, but I'm not being dishonest about it. Frankly, I don't give a damn if some chinese people die to bring be cheaper iPhones and other goodies. The fact that jobs are being transferred to countries with non-existent worker-safety regulations tells me that most people also don't give a damn.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (2, Insightful)

belthize (990217) | about 4 years ago | (#34068790)

You may not give a damn but I'm willing to bet the workers do. The problem is they're either not aware (very likely) or they're forced to choose between that and eating.

The fact that you're too much of a chicken shit to post your opinion with a name suggests that you do in fact give a damn, enough at least to not associate your own handle with your own oxygen wasting stupidity.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 4 years ago | (#34068836)

You may not give a damn but I'm willing to bet the workers do. The problem is they're either not aware (very likely) or they're forced to choose between that and eating.

The fact that you're too much of a chicken shit to post your opinion with a name suggests that you do in fact give a damn, enough at least to not associate your own handle with your own oxygen wasting stupidity.

The root of the problem is the same blissful, ignorant indifference that is causing the USA to become a soft-tyranny style police state. The products' marketing don't mention the working conditions that made it available at that price, just like the politicians' campaigns don't mention that the removal of freedom is how many of their goals are accomplished. No one really wants to take a look beneath the surface. It's out of sight, out of mind as though there are no externalities, as though there are no secondary and tertiary effects.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#34069280)

The root of the problem is the same blissful, ignorant indifference that is causing the USA to become a soft-tyranny style police state. The products' marketing don't mention the working conditions that made it available at that price....

Our government takes steps to protect our workers and we expect the Chinese gov't to do the same. Of course we're apathetic, it's not our problem.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 4 years ago | (#34069372)

If you're a member of the human race, it's your problem. If you have a conscience, it's your problem.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (1)

doublebackslash (702979) | about 4 years ago | (#34069170)

The fact that you're too much of a chicken shit to post your opinion with a name suggests that you do in fact give a damn, enough at least to not associate your own handle with your own oxygen wasting stupidity.

*clap clap clap*

Even I caught a little heat off that one.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (1)

Sylak (1611137) | about 4 years ago | (#34068832)

mod parent insightful

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068866)

Chinese working conditions
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMOBqRVDOYQ

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (1)

grumpyman (849537) | about 4 years ago | (#34068744)

Bingo - the reason to get by without strict regulations and legal system is a big factor into outsourcing. Not only cost in ensuring the safety but also the time it saves from going thru government hoops in a regulated environments.

Re:This is part of why offshoring is cheaper: (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | about 4 years ago | (#34068906)

The problem is larger than that. In economics, there's the phenomenon of "externalities" -- basically, costs incurred by business operations that aren't paid for by the business itself.

In the United States, for example, companies are generally expected to provide health insurance coverage for their workers. If a lot of workers get sick and file health claims, the employer's insurance rates go up -- so it's in the employer's interests to maintain a healthful work environment. But if the company doesn't provide health coverage, the costs are still caused by the business, but the expenses are picked up by someone else -- either the employees themselves or the taxpayers (because the employees end up getting many of their medical expenses waived, either intentionally or through bankruptcy). That's an externality.

The same is true of many of the environmental factors discussed in TFA. If I run a factory that dumps chemicals into a river, and there's no law that says I have to clean up that waste, then that's an externality -- someone is eventually going to have to do something about it, just not me.

The same with air pollution. If someone notices that the air is getting smoggier, but there's no regulation that says how much particulate matter I'm allowed to release into the atmosphere, then obviously nobody is going to be measuring my emissions and there will be no way to know how much of the smog I'm responsible for. Obviously I won't be factoring that into my balance sheet.

I'm further willing to venture that in a tightly-controlled authoritarian economy, such as China's, government and party officials are likely to have significant stakes in the businesses that are causing the pollution and health problems, and therefore the incentive to legislate those businesses will be low. Maybe it's worth considering how American businesses can be regulated such that they will be required to pick up costs incurred by their suppliers overseas. If those costs can't be properly accounted for, maybe the American companies should be required to take their business elsewhere.

What's there point exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068526)

does this mean there will be a price hike?

Re:What's there point exactly? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068578)

does this mean there will be a price hike?

Only if these lines are owned by outside companies. If they are owned by CHinese nationals, or by the Chinese gov, then no. There will be no extra protection and no extra pay.

It's scary to think you're so obtuse (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068544)

"It's scary to think that people are being damaged to pursue high production rates."

Gee whiz, can it be this is the first you've ever heard of a sweat shop?

How is this news? Why the fuck do you think things are made in China? Do you think the Chinese have a skilled work force, or higher technical skills, or something of the sort?

Human life is cheap there. It always will be.

It's scary to think you're so misinformed. (4, Informative)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#34069200)

Why the fuck do you think things are made in China?

Actually, it has a lot to do with convergence, and quality/adaptability of the workforce. You can get cheaper labour elsewhere.

What do I mean about convergence? Well, because all the other tech shit is made in Shenzen, you make your tech shit in Shenzen to reduce shipping cost and time. It's easier to go from prototype to assembly in a city that has all it's factories ready to easily adapt to various different hardware requirements.

The average Chinese high-tech factory worker is a female wanting to save up some money to start a family, she is highly motivated to do a good job. She is very adaptable to the ever changing needs of high tech manufacturing (you can get robots to do the same shit she does... but you have to program the robots a lot due to the constant changing of high-tech).

It's not simply cheap to manufacture high-tech in Shenzen simply because the workers sell themselves cheap, it's cheap in Shenzen because the city is incredibly good at using all of it's varied economies of scale (not just human).

They're Chinese (1, Flamebait)

drumcat (1659893) | about 4 years ago | (#34068554)

They have extras...

Someone mod down this jerk (0, Offtopic)

epte (949662) | about 4 years ago | (#34068600)

How incredibly insensitve, to say that an entire race is expendable. Shame on you.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068622)

How incredibly insensitve, to say that an entire nationality is expendable. Shame on you.

Fixed it for you

Extras implies that some are expendable not the entire race.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (1)

epte (949662) | about 4 years ago | (#34068650)

Ah yes. Thank you. :-)

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (1, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#34068844)

The truth is that it is not really any different. The Han race managed to genocide most of the other native Chinese people off the planet.

The Han race is the communist party is China. It is an incredibly racist regime that suppresses any other ethnic minorities into oblivion.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068994)

Are you trying to tell us that Han shot first?!

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (-1, Redundant)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#34069238)

So what you're saying is that Han shot first?

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (2)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 4 years ago | (#34068634)

I think he/she is merely pointing out what the Chinese govt thinks

Actually, OP was most sensitive in /. History. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068670)

Look at all the Surface Area those Chinese nervous-systems cover
over the entire world: they are most sensitive, even more than
India,but maybe not as sensitive as Sobeit Russuh where sensitivity
Feels you.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 4 years ago | (#34068678)

It's insensitive, but it's essentially how the Chinese economy works. Chinese companies can afford to pay substandard wages and ignore safety concerns because they have a basically limitless supply of labor as a continuous stream of Chinese peasants make their way from the farmland into the cities in search of a better life. If one worker drops or quits, there are fifty more waiting to take his or her place. It's analogous to the US during the Industrial Revolution, except on a much much larger scale.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (2)

epte (949662) | about 4 years ago | (#34068740)

Ok, I can see that. I was taking the post at face value, and didn't see the possibility of irony/sarcasm. The poster could have been a bit more clear, but that's more minor.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#34068724)

We're all expendable in the grand scheme of things.

There's over 7 billion people on Earth. I've been contemplating this:

If you had a company with a concentration camp business model and assuming word never got out, I think you could literally work people to death an never run out of workers - ever. And I would expand that further. If every manufacturing company did that, I think the population of the World would stabilize.

It's just a game I play to try to fathom how many people there are on this Earth - all wanting to live like Americans - consuming like Americans - wanting jobs like Americans ...and in the meantime, businesses have learned to produce with less and less workers ... the wealth of the US is spewing out of her .... see where this is going?

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (1)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#34069284)

Unless your in the business of digging ditches, your worker efficiency will be incredibly low with such a high turnover rate. If you have ANY competition they will destroy you easily.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (0, Offtopic)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#34068734)

How incredibly insensitve, to say that an entire race is expendable. Shame on you.

I missed the "-1, insensitive jerk" mod somehow. Turns out it's hiding under the "-1, disagree" mod.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068764)

Sometimes humor is offensive to make a point.
I believe he is using humor to remind everyone that over population in China is a really big problem.

Someone mod down this idiot (0, Troll)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 4 years ago | (#34068766)

How incredibly stupid of you, to say that a set of ethnic groups is a race. Shame on you.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 years ago | (#34068946)

I think it was supposed to be an attempt at humor, actually... albeit perhaps not that well presented. There are several TV shows on the air right now that do this sort of thing all the time. The basic tactic of this form of humor involves pushing the boundaries of tastelessness so far that it becomes absurd to believe that the notion was meant to be taken seriously, and as a result it is perceived of as funny.

Re:Someone mod down this jerk (3, Insightful)

epte (949662) | about 4 years ago | (#34069010)

The problem is that there are enough actual proponents of this mindset out there that it isn't necessarily taken as over-the-top.

He didn't say it should be that way (4, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 4 years ago | (#34069044)

Just that it is that way. And I agree, I've been there.

When you have a lot of labor to throw at a problem, the relative value of that labor becomes less. If you can get more workers for cheap, you'll use more of them and less expensive equipment and you'll use less expensive safety equipment too.

And I've seen this in China myself. Even if the process is supposed to be safe, the line managers are rewarded for running the lines fast and at low cost, so shortcuts that don't seem to hurt anyone lead to bonuses at the end of the quarter.

And yes, some of these shortcuts do hurt people long term, but its not obvious. That's why we have safety rules in the US. It's why China has them too, but never enforces them.

Let me give you just one example. In China I saw a guy welding stuff using an arc welder and no mask. He had a piece of cardboard to shield his eyes and he'd move it aside and squint when he needed to see what was going on. Yes, he was destroying his eyes. And complaining about what people post on slashdot isn't fixing the problem.

OK OK Geez (1)

epte (949662) | about 4 years ago | (#34069074)

I did already say how I recognize the OP might have been meant differently than I took it. I'm ok with being (possibly) wrong. Save your breath.

Re:They're Chinese (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068602)

They have extras...

That reminds me.

How do you blindfold a Chinese man? Dental floss.

How do Chinese parents come up with names for their children? They throw a bunch of silverware down the stairs.

Re:They're Chinese (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068708)

And we have slave labour [ow.ly]

Re:They're Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068846)

They're going to need them if they ever want to do a remake of Ben Hur

A reason to boycott all corporations of U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068584)

The employees should be the one's that own these corporations, given the nature they
are the ones that thought to invest their time to work as a team in a regulated atmosphere,
yet corporations from the United States are being used to exploit the life and security of
foreign workers; this done to Americans as though punnishment for requiring such tentative
preparations to bring a product safely to market, because you all damn-well know that a
low-wage job in a slave-labor country will not bring any US Dollars back to America but to
buy land to expand those slave-labor countries.

Americans really need to wise-up to not Incorporate, to retain their own liberty and freedom
from the emballming that the corporations provide at the expense of happiness in your life.

If that was Americans that were being harmed, the U.S. Media would send it's Conspiracy Theorists
around to sling mud at the journalists and theorists to prevent them from documenting the culprits
of these heinous acts. That's probably why the last bastion of Liberty and Freedom to corporate-rule
has always been to run away from America to find refuge in 3rd-world countries and dictatorships,
because they know they truly can't protect the investments and shield the decisions of thieves in the
CEO positions of that company: when their original/host-country has been famined because of their absence
since exporting all the viable industrial capacity and infrastructure, they come back into their country
being accepted by open-arms by the Americans living in poverty under despots of cruel privileged drug-dealing
murderous lying COPS and corrupt Judiciary Departments and sadistic Legislatures.

WHAT?! (1)

CasualFriday (1804992) | about 4 years ago | (#34068608)

China is cutting corners? This is capitalist propoganda. Try harder, you bourgeois swine.

Re:WHAT?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068738)

It's common knowledge, and it's been happening since the start of the communist era, in every communist country.

Re:WHAT?! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068750)

It's common knowledge, and it's been happening since the start of the communist era, in every communist country.

Except California.

Re:WHAT?! (3, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about 4 years ago | (#34068778)

Until someone discovers that smug causes cancer.

Apple.... and those others. (3, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#34068612)

You know...when ever there's a news story about a portable music device they automatically refer to the Apple iPod, which is irritating as hell.

The same thing happens with tablets now.

It's nice that they still drag Apple into a conversation like this...but it's still bullshit.

Quit saying Apple, ipod, ipad, etc unless it is a story actually about just them.

Give me a break. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068644)

I've yet to meet anyone with a Zune or a creative player who is as large a twat waffle as Apple fanboys.

When you keep talking your favorite morally unsound corporation up as if it can do no wrong, when it does abhorrently wrong, expect to hear about it.

Re:Give me a break. (3, Funny)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 4 years ago | (#34068726)

Okay, props for correct use of the term "twat waffle".

Re:Give me a break. (4, Funny)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 4 years ago | (#34068864)

I've yet to meet anyone with a Zune or a creative player who is as large a twat waffle as Apple fanboys.

I've yet to meet anyone with a Zune or a creative player, period. Which I think disproves the GPs point more immediately.

Re:Give me a break. (3, Insightful)

Yakasha (42321) | about 4 years ago | (#34069226)

I've yet to meet anyone with a Zune or a creative player who is as large a twat waffle as Apple fanboys.

I've yet to meet anyone with a Zune or a creative player, period. Which I think disproves the GPs point more immediately.

Motorola Droids have touch screens.

McDonald's ordering computers have touch screens.

Why not say "Chinese manufacturers of Motorola's Droid..."
or "Chinese manufacturers of McDonald's Touch screens"?

GP is 100% valid. It was the *exact* same deal with the "horrible suicide rates at 'Apple's manufacturing plant".

Does anybody know that the suicide rate there is less than the national average in China? Does anybody know that Apple accounts for about 3% of the business at the plant? No. But Slashdot, CNN, and every other news site, just like this story, reports it as "Apple and others".

Why they do it? Buzz words attract attention. I *really* doubt it is any kind of conspiracy to hurt Apple. Its just the news sites trying to get people to see the headline and go "ooo I know what that is."

Re:Give me a break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34069256)

I have a Creative player.

Re:Give me a break. (1)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#34069310)

I've met someone with a Zune... it looked pretty fucking sweet compared to an iPod.

Re:Apple.... and those others. (1, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068648)

Quit saying Apple, ipod, ipad, etc unless it is a story actually about just them.

Yeah! It should be about how Steve Jobs hates Chinese people, and forces them to commit suicide and pollute their bodies with horrifying chemicals.

Re:Apple.... and those others. (1)

angus77 (1520151) | about 4 years ago | (#34068706)

...when ever there's a news story about a portable music device they automatically refer to the Apple iPod

Apple's marketing division has worked hard to make their brand synonymous with portable music devices, smartphones and tablets.

Re:Apple.... and those others. (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068722)

Apple's marketing division has worked hard to make their brand synonymous with portable music devices, smartphones and tablets.

And killing Chinese workers!

God bless America

Re:Apple.... and those others. (4, Interesting)

Nocuous (1567933) | about 4 years ago | (#34068884)

You know...when ever there's a news story about a portable music device they automatically refer to the Apple iPod, which is irritating as hell.

The same thing happens with tablets now.

It's nice that they still drag Apple into a conversation like this...but it's still bullshit.

Quit saying Apple, ipod, ipad, etc unless it is a story actually about just them.

Whenever I mention something about Apple being subject to the laws of business like any other company, people often come out of the woodwork to say something like, "Oh no you dint! Apple is the largest purchaser of in the WORLD, and they can do it faster, cheaper, prettier... etc. etc."

So, since Apple be the largest X of Y in the WORLD, and first in market share and mind share, I find it entirely appropriate to drag Apple's name into the negative aspects of consumer electronics, including suicides among poorly treated workers, and outright poisoning of them. After all, with the Zune's laughable market share, how many workers could be dying assembling them?

Unacceptable (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068636)

A chemical called n-hexane has been poisoning the nervous systems of Chinese workers who assemble touchscreen devices for Apple and other companies

I can forgive them poisoning a few people but making Apple devices is unforgivable.

And the damages from waste? (1)

mugnyte (203225) | about 4 years ago | (#34068642)

    And is anyone asking companies to pay for the costs/injuries from reclaiming materials from the waste stream?

Re:And the damages from waste? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068768)

Actually, a very large number of Americans (and other westerners) ARE asking that China do JUST THAT.
In addition, that China puts pollution controls on their power plants.
And that China will allow their Yuan to Float.
And that China will quit dumping on export markets.
And that China will quit subsidizing.
And that China will simply live up to the MANY treaties/agreements that they have and ignore.

The problem is that the CHinese gov. does not honor their word and Western Businesses are taking advantage of that.

It's a WalMart world after all (4, Interesting)

mmcxii (1707574) | about 4 years ago | (#34068652)

In the pursuit of cheaper and cheaper goods you're going to have this kind of thing. Sadly, China lowered the price-point so much that it's hard to find many products made in an environment with a reasonable amount of safety and a livable wage for the workers.

That's what happens when you have a population feeling that they need 54 inch TVs, enough food to kill themselves with, clothes they wear twice before they pitch them in the trash or out grow them, every Pixar film in their home library and two of the biggest three video game consoles for each child.

People have made a choice between quantity and quality and China is taking the brunt of this along with the spoils.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068686)

That's what happens when you have a population feeling that they need 54 inch TVs, enough food to kill themselves with, clothes they wear twice before they pitch them in the trash or out grow them, every Pixar film in their home library and two of the biggest three video game consoles for each child.

And what the fuck are you typing this post out on? An Apple 2?

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (1, Insightful)

mmcxii (1707574) | about 4 years ago | (#34068720)

Try a 7 year old ThinkPad. I have older machines too but none newer. Is that good enough for you?

My bigger point, which you gladly skirted, is that China gets away with this because of the volume of product that they produce. If people would reign their consumption habit in a bit we may not have this issues.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (-1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068736)

And how many Chinese do you think died fabricating and assembling your ThinkPad?

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (1, Informative)

mmcxii (1707574) | about 4 years ago | (#34068826)

Again, skirting my posts original intent. Sorry, I'm done feeding this troll.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (-1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068868)

Again, skirting my posts original intent. Sorry, I'm done feeding this troll.

I'm awfully sorry I screwed with your self-righteous moral outrage by hitting the hypocrisy button

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#34069202)

Again, you missed his point. His point is we should consume less. Not that we shouldn't buy anything from China at all.

I disagree with his premise, but at least I understand it. You are just being intentional obtuse.

Nothing he posted way a hypocrisy in any way.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (2, Insightful)

mmcxii (1707574) | about 4 years ago | (#34069208)

What was that about hypocrisy? [slashdot.org] Do did you use an Apple II?

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (2, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 4 years ago | (#34069254)

I'm pretty sure that a guy using a 7-year-old laptop is not the kind of hyper-consumer who tries to e.g. eat enough food to kill himself. But don't let me get in the way of your hyperbole...I know you're just dying to hate some stranger on the Internet.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (2, Insightful)

Garble Snarky (715674) | about 4 years ago | (#34068876)

Well however many it was, it was less than the number that died fabricating and assembling 7 equivalent devices that some other person bought yearly.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#34069190)

wrong. Even if we cut it in half. They would still be made in China, Chinese companies would still have horrid working conditions. The only change would be that there is even MORE demand for those jobs, and less of an incentive to treat the workers like human beings.

The only fix is to get China to have some decent labor laws. The best way to do that is add a large tarif for any goods coming into the US from a country that doesn't meet our basic federal laws.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 4 years ago | (#34068818)

enough food to kill themselves with,

Actually, I think most of the food we Americans kill ourselves with comes from North and South America.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | about 4 years ago | (#34069178)

Ahh, so it's my fault that the Chinese people are working in factories with crappy working conditions instead of on farms with crappy working conditions. Lets just stop paying to have things made overseas, that will make the lives of the workers overseas so much better.

Re:It's a WalMart world after all (2, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | about 4 years ago | (#34069234)

Bah, 54" is for people with normal dicks. Mine's extremely small, and 54" wouldn't even begin to compensate.

Ah, communist China! (1)

geekmansworld (950281) | about 4 years ago | (#34068682)

The workers' paradise!

No such thing as free trade.... (3, Insightful)

18_Rabbit (663482) | about 4 years ago | (#34068712)

When one of the parties has much higher environmental and safety regulations. Of course, this why the wingnuts will tell you we need to dismantle our regulatory systems. Yay! Race to the bottom!

Worker safety in China (2, Interesting)

Korveck (1145695) | about 4 years ago | (#34068746)

China has always been poor in enforcing some basic safety requirements. Every year thousands of Chinese miners die in all sorts of mine-related accidents. Factories can dump toxic chemicals into rivers and get away with it. Harmful materials are regularly used as cheap substitutes in manufacturing. Better yet, most reports on these horrible practices are quickly suppressed. Welcome to the harmonous and prosperous society of Middle Kingdom.

Re:Worker safety in China (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 years ago | (#34068842)

China has always been poor in enforcing some basic safety requirements.

British Petroleum has been poor in enforcing some basic safety requirements. China doesn't give a shit about basic safety requirements. Providing major ports like Shanghai are heading to North America and Europe a bazillion pairs of Nike Asskickers, iTubePhone and lead-based children's wear, China and the Chinese manufacturers could care less about safety. In China, whether you died to make the Kuomintang great, or died to make Mao's insane steel output quotas great, or died so that Marxist purists could funny hats on anybody who had anything approaching independent thought, or died so that the world could fill to the brim with Chinese goods, one thing has always been clear, and that is that the average Chinese citizens has been completely expendable.

Re:Worker safety in China (1)

2phar (137027) | about 4 years ago | (#34068948)

Chinese manufacturers could care less about safety.

How much less?

Capitalism (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 4 years ago | (#34068782)

The market will fix this. Nobody will buy iPhones when they hear about this. And all iPhone consumers in the market will hear about it.

Right?

Re:Capitalism (1)

ozbird (127571) | about 4 years ago | (#34068886)

"You gotta tell 'em—iPHONE IS PEOPLE!"

"Whatever. Does it come in white?"

Re:Capitalism (1)

benjamindees (441808) | about 4 years ago | (#34069002)

Sorry, but this is the market fixing itself.

Earning profit requires risk. People who moved from the countryside into factories are taking the risk that it will pay off. If you asked them, most would probably say it was worthwhile, and that it is paying off. But odds are good that a large portion will not profit by it. Now that the consequences of this type of work are known, we will see how many continue to choose to work in dangerous factories. I imagine it will still be enough to keep them running.

Re:Capitalism (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | about 4 years ago | (#34069150)

The market will fix this.

Huh? I know you're trying to be clever and sarcastic, here, and normally I'm the first to attack free market purists, but I don't see anyone claiming that this kind of thing will be solved by the invisible hand.

This is, put simply, a classic example of a negative externality. The only solution is government regulation or taxation.

chemistry of n-hexane (5, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 4 years ago | (#34068788)

In case anyone is interested, n-hexane is a straight-chain hydrocarbon, six (predictably) carbons long. It's similar to gasoline, which is a mixture of straight-chain and branched-chain hydrocarbons, that average about eight carbons (hence 'octane number': the reference for gasoline volatility is a specific eight-carbon molecule.) Hexane is often used as a solvent and cleaning agent, replacing the much better but much more toxic benzene, also a six-carbon molecule, and a number of other solvents that do a great job solvating but also do a great job poisoning people in both short and long term exposures.

It's pretty common in production facilities, particularly manufacturing lines, to start out with good chemical control: a fireproof safe from which people have to check out material, and over time, as the manufacturing process evolves, people keep finding they need to wash stuff up at one step and pretty soon a jug of solvent just gets left there and people start splashing it around. Gloves get in the way, or get caught in machinery, so people stop using those, too. Then, in the US, OSHA makes more and more drastic rules about allowing solvents of any sort, to try to prevent this happening, and manufacturers have to find another solvent, which then gets used in the same way with the same results.

Point being, it's not particularly OSHA that's the problem: they're trying to stop people poisoning themselves. The issue is manufacturing processes with unanticipated problems, and production workers who find ways to overcome the problems without realizing that they're endangering themselves. In China there's less concern over workers endangering themselves than in the US, although the difference is primarily in degree, but the same general problem is seen in most manufacturing environments.

OSHA's a problem (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 years ago | (#34069156)

Point being, it's not particularly OSHA that's the problem: they're trying to stop people poisoning themselves. The issue is manufacturing processes with unanticipated problems, and production workers who find ways to overcome the problems without realizing that they're endangering themselves.

You know this and I know this, so isn't it safe to say that OSHA knows this? And that they're spending effort not really solving any problems?

I know, how many bureaucrats does it take to say, "pfft, there's nothing we can really do that will help here."

Re:chemistry of n-hexane (2, Insightful)

cyberidian (1917584) | about 4 years ago | (#34069404)

I am not advocating people being poisoned, but I do think it is unfair to judge China, a developing industrial nation, by US safety standards today. The US has had many decades to develop its manufacturing base before these types of concerns even existed. If you think about it, one of the reasons why these types of devices are built in China and not the US is because the US has so many regulations that it is too expensive to manufacture almost anything in the US. While I do think US companies should be pressured to some degree to require their source companies to follow decent safety and labor practices, if we insist that China match the US level of safety, manufacturing will become too expensive there too. Then manufacturing will simply move somewhere else where people are poorer and the Chinese people will be without jobs. Long-term the world should work towards having standard safety regulations world-wide, but there are too many poor people in the world for that to happen anytime soon. In the meanwhile, careful thought needs to put into what type of safety regulations should be expected of China and other developing nations. While China is mostly a dictatorship, the government is not immune to pressure from the US or its own citizens. I do believe that the best way to help China ultimately become a democracy is by increasing its middle class, which mainly happens by having good manufacturing jobs widely available. While it is easy for upper class Americans to complain about the horrors of industrial poisoning, the workers in China probably only appreciate the outcry if the solution also involves them keeping their jobs. It is also worth considering that the companies involved may be trying to protect their workers from these solvents, but individual workers may not be following safety practices and becoming poisoned.

the year in china (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 4 years ago | (#34068824)

Is 1900. Lets see how they handle it

Re:the year in china (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 4 years ago | (#34069308)

Mod parent up. Arguably, we're re-living 1900 here in some ways too; but it's much more apparent in China.

Under the Chinese system, how can there be an Upton Sinclair though? They'll just squash him.

I don't think things like this can go on forever though. I've said it a number of times: "If the Chinese aren't careful, they're going to have a communist revolution on their hands".

Followed by, "how long before China sets a river on fire?".

I remember just after Tienanmen, when it was readily apparent that the Chinese were going to do what Gorbachev wanted--bring market economics to the old system without destroying it. As detestable as dictatorship is, it seemed like an interesting experiment as long as I didn't have to live under it. They had the chance to retain some of the things that made China interesting and liveable (such as their use of the bicycle for daily commuting) while bringing market economics to bear on other problems.

Alas, the Chinese learned *nothing* from the West in this regard, and one of the first articles I remember reading about the new China was lamenting how it was becomeing impossible to cycle to work without hacking up a lung due to diesel exhaust.

modern china is slavery (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#34068828)

the citizens have no right to elect their own government, and so they are basically slaves to a few grumpy technocrats in beijing

and the shame is, americans are happy to support this human rights quagmire, because they get cheap plastic crap in the bargain. all the while, they let their own manufacturing sector rot and their economy go to hell, because slave labor is obviously cheaper

who cares about human rights, who cares about my own country's economy, as long as i get my fucking shiny smartphone

blame corporations all you want

i blame the fat, lazy, ignorant american consumer

Re:modern china is slavery (1)

ozbird (127571) | about 4 years ago | (#34068910)

Too late - China p0wns you. The shiny trinkets are there to keep the proles happy.

Re:modern china is slavery (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#34068978)

its true

we waste our young folk's lives and trillions of our dollars to ensure the stability of the oil supply... for the growth of china

the usa has become nothing but the thug enforcer for china

Re:modern china is slavery (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#34069212)

yes, only american buy goods from China~

It's a limited time offer (3, Insightful)

serutan (259622) | about 4 years ago | (#34068890)

The only comfort I take in the Global Economy is that eventually every part of the world will be industrialized and we'll run out of cheap labor hellholes to have our gadgets made in. I still remember in the 60s when Made in Japan was synonymous with cheap plastic crap. The process that has taken place in Japan since WWII is repeating at a faster pace in places like China and Mexico. Now those countries have a growing consumer class that is looking for cheap labor in other places. After the cycle happens across South America and Africa, the party will be over and so will the culture of endless business growth based on cheap labor.

Odd choice of words (1)

Eudial (590661) | about 4 years ago | (#34068922)

"It's scary to think that people are being damaged to pursue high production rates."

Damaged? What a peculiar choice of words. People get harmed or injured; machines and tools get damaged and malfunction.

Re:Odd choice of words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34069110)

I've met a lot of people who are tools (and ones that I wouldn't mind being "damaged")

Oh wait... that's a different definition of tool...

CAPTCHA: uncouth (fitting description of the content here)

How Many Chinamen Does it Take to Make an iPad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34068984)

..Answer: Allto Many Poisoned Ones.

Sleep sweet, Steve baby. Altho, as a man who has suffered from serious illness yourself, perhaps you may want to think twice before deliberately inflicting the same upon others? then again, maybe not - either way, karma will rule, eventually.

And you know it.

Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34069028)

I hate to say this, but companies that outsource production to other countries like China, aren't directly responsible for their well-being. This touchscreen issue is just a drop in the bucket of chinese labor abuses that are commonplace among thousands of companies. They aren't Apple's production workers. It's not Apple's factory, they don't own it, or run it.

Hey China - here's a message from god (3, Insightful)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | about 4 years ago | (#34069076)

Dear China,

You have a unique and valuable natural resource. You have been selling it at a deep discount so you could get a firm grasp on the balls of every modern nation on earth. Let's call that mission accomplished. You can now start raising the price, and using the increased profits to clean up your country before you kill off the very resource that has created all this wealth. Sure, some bottom-feeders will go elsewhere, but those who stick with you will pay more, and allow you to actually improve your country.

Don't do it all at once - just practice boiling a frog by slowly warming the water. A small increase every quarter will do. However, don't let me catch you pocketing the profits. If you don't start buying scrubbers for your smokestacks, and water treatment plants, I might have to come down and smite your ass.

With Love

God, Buddha, or whatever higher power is in style this week

Designed by Apple in California.... (1)

18_Rabbit (663482) | about 4 years ago | (#34069100)

...poisoned by Foxconn in China!

Poisoned? (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 4 years ago | (#34069104)

So what? Isn't this why American companies make their products there? So you can poison your workers and not have to pay squat?

Well it's is many American foods (3, Informative)

John Sokol (109591) | about 4 years ago | (#34069290)

Hexane is derived from petroleum. It is a colorless, volatile liquid with a mild, gasoline-like odor.

It's used in Electrical contact cleaner, and Computer monitor screen cleaners.

Hexane is the dominate extraction solvent for oil seeds throughout the world, including soybean and other high volume oils used for human and animal consumption. 95% of the world's corn oil is produced from corn germ obtained by wet-milling.
The corn germ is dried, then shipped to hexane extraction facilities to obtain the oil.

Basically corn oil and high fructose corn syrup are contaminated with the stuff in small amounts.

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5118098_corn-oil-processing.html [ehow.com]

Not this again... they are hexane junkies. (1)

moxsam (917470) | about 4 years ago | (#34069292)

Inhalation of high concentrations produces first a state of mild euphoria, followed by somnolence with headaches and nausea.

Market this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34069318)

Buy the new android phone, now featuring a new "doesn't poison people" touch screen design!
Except probably every touch screen device is made by these guys.

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