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Foxconn "Glad That Mike Daisey's Lies Were Exposed"

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the better-than-all-that dept.

China 332

theodp writes "Foxconn Technology Group, Apple's largest supplier and the target of allegations of poor work conditions, welcomed a retraction of a This American Life radio program episode it said was based on lies. 'I am happy that the truth prevails, I am glad that Mike Daisey's lies were exposed,' Louis Woo, a spokesman for Taipei-based Foxconn said. 'People will have the impression that Foxconn is a bad company,' Woo added, 'so I hope they will come and find out for themselves'. Foxconn also said that it has 'no plans to take legal action.'"

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332 comments

I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402299)

Wasn't the problem here not that what Daisey reported was false, but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with? Of course from a journalistic standpoint that is awful but it is now sweeping these problems under the rug.

Foxconn can now act like there were no problems and ignore them just because the source used was a secondary source reported as a primary source.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2, Insightful)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402339)

What would difference it would make if this was real? Apple looking for another producer? Apple fanbois suddenly starting to believe that their beloved company isn't all controled peace and happiness?

Get real, that's China. And how someone pointed out, things like these have been going for years, and not only for Apple. And as long as they will produce stuff cheapily and we will be happy to buy it - it won't change a thing. They still be billions piss poor people.

Unless China produced stuff gets heavy tarrifs (and every country who does it gets thrown out from WTO), it ain't gonna happen.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402393)

Yes, the solution to having poor Chinese people produce products under inhumane conditions is to force them out of their jobs. That way, everyone wins.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (-1, Flamebait)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402529)

I wish you are not being sarcastic, because if you were that's the most disgusting thing I ever heard. This is the equivalent of saying: Liberating the slaves is a bad idea, because their former masters would not hire them! Go #$%&^ YOURSELF, what kind of morals is that???

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402573)

Man somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed, enough so that you completely missed the point of the post above the one you're crying big crocodile tears over.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402647)

Please explain.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (5, Insightful)

greyc (709363) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402925)

(Note: I am neither of the AC ancestors, but I'm pretty sure I understand their position, so I'll try to explain it regardless)

The critical difference here is that those Chinese workers are /not/ slaves. They are not forced into taking jobs at foxconn; they take these positions voluntarily, just like people in western countries do, because they think it's a favorable trade for them.

Why do they do this? Because as bad as the working conditions and pay at companies like Foxconn are by western standards, they are very competitive compared to the local alternatives. This point is crucial: Foxconn are not exploiting people in the sense that all else being equal, the people who work for them would be better off just not doing so.

You can make an argument that people living in sufficient poverty to make such a deal favorable is a terrible thing, and I'd agree with that. However, destroying Foxconn's business model by preventing them from selling to western countries does nothing directly to fix these people's poverty; in fact it makes it worse, by reducing the pool of jobs available to them (and not just randomly reducing it; you're taking away some of the best jobs in the pool!).

As an analogy, think of how you'd react if people in a hypothetical country that's even more wealthy than your's decided that your working conditions are far too horrible for your pay, and somehow stopped jobs like the one you have right from being offered anymore, resulting in you having to choose a worse job instead. Would that make your life better? Would you be happy about it? It's the same thing here.

The above is how the simple economic argument goes. Real economies and societies are complicated, of course, and there's several vectors by which driving Foxconn out of business oculd potentially improve the situation for common workers in China. But those aren't clear to me (and aren't clear to various other people who've looked at the issue) - the direct, obvious and robust effect is strongly negative. If you're going to argue that there are other effects compensating for it, it would be good to present your reasoning or link to other people arguing for the above reasoning being incorrect.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403093)

Places like Foxconn are what forced Unions into existence and labor laws to come into place.

Paying rent to the company and being forced to buy from the company store IS a form of slavery, Sorry you are too uneducated to see that, or you are just plain old evil and think it's a wonderful thing. The poor conditions in the factory are because the company owners are such greedy assholes that it's cheaper to kill workers than make it a safe place to work. They have far higher profit margins that way. If we did not have the labor laws and unions here in the USA we would be still doing the same thing. AS a greedy rich scumbag asshole knows no border or nationality.

What I find entertaining is that the american public is up in arms over it. We demand low price things yet refuse to pay for things like living wages and safe workplaces for the people that make the latest shiny. The people claiming that it's only 20% of a price difference are complete morons.

To build a ipad in the USA, you will be paying $18-37 an hour. Your factory will be required to meat all OSHA and EPA standards. The manufacture cost of a single iPad will jump to at least $1100.00 add a 40% markup and now you have a 16gig ipad base model selling for $1599.00

The public would be up in arms and clamoring that it's a rip off! ZOMG! TOO EXPENSIVE!. we look the other way so we can have our slave labor cheap devices.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (4, Interesting)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403137)

I see...no culpability by a totalitarian government here...

1 - Make life conditions horrible for population
2 - Offer sightly less horrible conditions in factory
3 - ???
4 - Profit, and repeat step 1

I keep seeing this argument pop up, "hey, at least its better then the farm" like it is a good moral position. In this example, China does not seem to interested in improving the lifestyle of their rural population for it would undercut a steady supply of workers in the factory. The human becomes part of the machine and like any part, when it goes bad, just replace for we have a large inventory in stock.

That is how your argument reads under the BS about its better then the alternative. I imagine that the government would not want to consider more humane, western labor laws for two reasons, there would be larges amount of people dropping their agro tools and flocking to cities for work, but higher wages, less work time, safer conditions means that companies have to pay more for labor and thus take off for "greener" pastures in less enlightened countries. Now what do you do will all those people that has hopes for a job.

Foxconn will continue to exist, because we feed the machine by buying stuff made there, and because the government needs Foxconn to help keep the populous if not happy, at least quiescent with the idea of a better life.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403159)

"yours". No apostrophe. Please.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2)

rwhamann (598229) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402641)

Overreact much? What GP is implying (I think) is that this is a systemic problem - killing one company, Foxconn, over this only hurts their current employees without really changing the overall status quo. In fact, the recent inspection by a worker's rights group said that Foxconn was pretty progressive in worker treatment - for China. None of this will change unless China passes and/or enforces OSHA-like worker protection laws or consumers demand "worker-fair" products and pay for them.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402841)

Alternatively, if no new laws are passed, the effect of labor supplier surplus gained through voluntarily trading with labour consumers will enhance the lives of workers. Temporally, this will result in increases in worker productivity that result in wages rising -- maximization of firms' profit occur when the marginal productivity of labor is set to what the wage is.

Increasing the price of labor, and enforcing rules that are not based on labor suppliers' and consumers' market valuation of each other, are interventions that do not change the marginal productivity of labor. As a result, these interventions only increase wages as a result of reductions in the quantity of labor.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402807)

It would be nice if we could just snap our fingers, and suddenly everyone would have great working conditions, and enough money to live well on.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. A society has to work its way up. And companies like Foxconn are the the forefront of that. They pay better and have better working conditions than the average. Once enough people reach a higher standard of living, they can start demanding more, and so on.

By attacking the ones that offer the better situation for workers, you are holding the entire process back.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (5, Insightful)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403041)

This is, of course, nonsense. What is holding the entire process back is greed.

Apple makes large margins on the sales of iProducts. If they were interested, they could pass some, not even a lot, of that back to their suppliers and conditions there would improve. But they do not; they keep those margins, which are as large as they are precisely because they pay their suppliers as little as possible.

These people are in poor working conditions, not because it is inevitable, but because it is cheap.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (3, Insightful)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403123)

...they could pass some, not even a lot, of that back to their suppliers and conditions there would improve...

That is assuming that the suppliers would then pass that money on to their workers. But why would they do that? Is it because only Apple is a greedy corporation, whose aim is to make money, and all other companies (suppliers) are benevolent, aiming only to improve conditions for their workers?

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403247)

I think people miss that point... the foxconn employees work for foxconn, not apple. Apple pays foxconn what foxconn negotiated. Foxconn could turn around and ask for more when the contract is up so that it could pay it's workers more, but then some other company would likely outbid them. Apple could take the high road and making higher pay for foxconn's workers part of the contract, but that's generally not how it works.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2)

poly_pusher (1004145) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403065)

Exactly... These are people who are leaving impoverished villages and lining up at places like Foxconn, fighting tooth and nail to get a job there. Their kids will go to school and get a chance to become more than their factory-line worker parents. We have no right to do anything unless people are being forced against their will and they are not...

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (3, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403187)

Exactly... These are people who are leaving impoverished villages and lining up at places like Foxconn, fighting tooth and nail to get a job there. Their kids will go to school and get a chance to become more than their factory-line worker parents. We have no right to do anything unless people are being forced against their will and they are not...

Fact is that a young person starting a job at Foxconn, doing lots of overtime, saving money by sleeping in a cheep dorm, can save up an awful lot of money in a years time. I'm sure working at McDonalds in the USA is nicer than working at Foxconn. If you are a young person in the USA who wants to become a lawyer, for how long would you have to work at McDonalds to save enough money to finance this? If you are a young person in China, how long would you have to work at Foxconn?

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403265)

The biggest reason that overall it never has and never will work like that is that people are easy to make. Only when massive population decreases occur does the average rate for labor increases. The global population is increasing exponentially, so unless global economic growth grows as rapidly or more rapidly, then there isn't going to be global middle class. The middle class (as it's redefined by each country) will grow in some places and decline in others.
This is where the economists all chime in saying "free trade is good for everyone" and "it's not a zero-sum game". The truth is if the pie doesn't grow as fast as the number of seats at the table, there's always going to be more losers than winners.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (4, Insightful)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403037)

BTW, freeing the slaves was never a bad idea, but many freed slaves suffered horribly after emancipation. Not that their living conditions were that great before hand, but after the Civil War there were many known cases of entire communities of plantation owners who hired freed slaves on the condition that the freed slaves would be paid after the harvest. But after the harvest, instead of paying what they promised, the ex-masters drove the workers off their land by force and it is believed that thousands starved to death during this time.

And in the case of China, if the "free world" were to ban Chinese imports, China would fall into a severe depression. Unemployed workers would be very angry, as would the Chinese government. There's a slim chance this could lead to a general uprising that could lead to democracy, but more likely is that an over populated and well armed China with nothing to lose would absorb the unemployed men of fighting age into their armed forces, direct the anger of their masses toward the West, and obtain by military force what they could not obtain through commerce. Even in full scale war, such as an invasion of Japan and Taiwan, coupled with supporting N. Korea against the South, the US would likely not be the first to strike with nuclear weapons. And with an expanding military that has been growing more technologically adept, China probably would not see any reason to use their own nuclear weapons unless their home territory came under heavy bombing or invasion.

As an anecdote to support my position, during WWII the WMD of the time was poison gas, which both the Allied and Axis powers possessed in significant quantities, yet neither side resorted to using gas in spite of the scale and devastation of the war. So I don't believe that America's nuclear deterrence would be enough to prevent a conventional war with China.

So, the only option left for those of us who care about human rights and the treatment of workers who make the goods we consume, is we need to proactively seek out products that are manufactured and marketed in an ethical manner. Just as "organic" has become trendy to the point that well-to-do consumers will pay three or four times as much money for pesticide free vegetables, we need to make ethical and sustainable business practices just as "trendy". Kind of like the parable of the contest between the wind and the sun to see who could take the jacket off from a pedestrian. The wind blew harder and harder, but could not blow it off, but the sun just stood still and effortlessly warmed the path of the pedestrian until the pedestrian decided to take off his jacket. In time perhaps "ethically and sustainably manufactured in China" will be the new trendy "organic" label that Yuppies will wear with pride.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (3, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402499)

I don't think that tariffs will help specifically, but if China would stop forcing an exchange rate with their currency then the problem would, to an extent, fix itself as China's currency becomes more expensive.

What we really need to do, IMHO, is to recognize the somewhat confrontational relationship we actually have with China, and to stop sending proprietary processes to China for manufacture. That might mean that China still makes the plastics and the PCB, but the parts get shipped here for soldering and final assembly. The best way to reduce the speed of knockoff copying is to not engage in manufacture in a place that essentially encourages knockoff copying. Sure, it'll still happen, but it'll take longer, especially when new devices eventually come out where the processes have changed and can't be instantly replicated in that environment.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403045)

Tariffs WILL help.
Even if tariffs do not fix everything, by not wholeheartedly supporting tariffs we (as a nation) are telling business that they _should_ treat people as machines and not respect overtime pay, workman's compensation, protection against all forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, employing minors in unsafe jobs, burning poisonous waste or dumping it in the rivers... even beating and MURDERING union and environmental 'agitators'. Currency manipulation is only a small contributor towards the unfair trade, when you also consider the rest of this paragraph.

America has only two choices in these matters if we want to retain manufacturing:
a) Adopt all of China's policies domestically (turning the US into China), or
b) declare China's polices as an "unfair trade advantage", and slap tariffs on imports until China reforms.

The third way - which the US does now - just has the net effect of turning Americans against each other, as is being done in Wisconsin and Ohio elections which seek to destroy unions. Given that the US is a 2-party state, this is going to further polarize the country, dangerously.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (4, Insightful)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402507)

The difference it can make and has made is that Apple has consistently responded to pressure to be more open about its labor practices, and they have enough economic weight to throw around to make real (but perhaps not fundamental) change in at least their supply chain—which is substantial on its own—but even probably in the electronics market overall.

Apple doesn't necessarily need to leave Foxconn (or any other supplier) to make them change their labor policies; the pressure of audits with accountability can go a long way, under enough social pressure. And say what you want about Apple's fanatic following, it certainly exists, but it also has a demographic tendency to be more inclined to apply pressure on labor abuse.

Are fanbois still around, at least on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402515)

Apple fanbois suddenly starting to believe that their beloved company isn't all controled peace and happiness?

In the last several years, Apple has gone from the underdog to the top dog in computers, phones, and electronic gadgets. The fanboism here on Slashdot has died down considerably - more so than the Microsoft arch enemies. The MS enemies are still beating that dead horse of the "Microsoft monopolistic market power" even though Apple and a few other software publishers are kicking its ass.

It's amazing how people get emotionally involved with things and ideals.

I think Apple's popularity these days is just gadget craziness - I see the same mentality with the Kindle and Nook.

People just love spending their hard earned money on the next whiz bang gadget. Fanboism has nothing to do with it.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (5, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402345)

> but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with

No.

"The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show."

Basically he stated that all of the "bad stories" were simply made up.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (4, Insightful)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402525)

The stories, yes. The actual topics, no.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402681)

The stories, yes. The actual topics, no.

Which topic is that? That people from all over China are lining up to work at places like Foxconn, that conditions don't even begin to resemble his characterizations of them, and that every economy that hasn't already matured to the degree of a Germany or a US has people who don't work short shifts with long coffee breaks while checking their smart phone for frivalous e-mails and lolcats from the friends they'll be overeating with later that evening? Yes, that "actual topic" is ... truthy. What's your "actual" point? Please be specific.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402781)

Which topic is that?

Hexane poisoning.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402993)

OK, so hexane poisoning is a "topic." Another topic would be Apple's plans for a Mars colony. Just because you can name a topic doesn't mean that the actual issue at hand is meaningful. The guy who made it meaningful for legions of We Hate Apple whiners has been shown to have been completely BS-ing. So, it's your turn to be specific on the scale and nature of the issue, rather than just running around and shouting "hexane poisoning is a topic!"

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403051)

Hexane poisoning.

Which did not happen at Foxconn, FYI.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402363)

There's also one thing Foxconn has that Daisey doesn't: the money and PR machine called Apple.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402437)

Wasn't the problem here not that what Daisey reported was false, but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with? Of course from a journalistic standpoint that is awful but it is now sweeping these problems under the rug.

Foxconn can now act like there were no problems and ignore them just because the source used was a secondary source reported as a primary source.

It's hard to argue that second hand information is anywhere near as good as firsthand information; this is something that most people learn in kindergarten. But your point is essentially valid; all of the things Daisey said are now "lies" instead of vague, possibly true claims. It will be a LOT harder to prove any of it is true (even though speculation has been circulating for a LONG time.) I somehow doubt Daisey really cares, though. He is as famous as he could want to be, and probably sleeps peacefully on top of a big pile of money.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402787)

Not to defend Daisey, but monologists who get their stories covered by public radio shows do not sleep on big piles of money. Not even small piles.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403119)

Not to defend Daisey, but monologists who get their stories covered by public radio shows do not sleep on big piles of money. Not even small piles.

Too lumpy.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2, Insightful)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402451)

While Daisey certainly needs to answer for misrepresenting himself (to This American Life), most of the damage that I've seen has been done by a poorly educated and reactionary audience that doesn't understand that it's unreasonable to hold a creative activist to the same journalistic standards that, quite frankly, we don't hold journalists to either. Like so many of the controversies on "our side" (and I'm assuming we have some sort of common cause if you think Foxconn acting with impunity is harmful), we have a role that as a whole we simply aren't prepared—in mind or in temperament—to execute.

Everyone involved here did their job, until it came to us. Mike Daisey's job was to prepare a piece that formulated a story from truths that would make an audience care passionately about those truths, thereby pressuring the actors involved. This American Life checked facts and disputed those it found questionable or inaccurate. We did not articulate, with clarity and principle, articulate the above.

It's too easy to say that one guy with a stage performance did so much harm, just as it's too easy to say that he'd done so much good.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (4, Insightful)

LDAPMAN (930041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402773)

"creative activist"?? What the hell is a creative activist? Oh, it's someone who lies because the ends justifies the means.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2, Funny)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402957)

A creative activist is an activist who does creative work in the course of their activism. I haven't posted on Slashdot for a while, I forgot what a lot of pedants you all are.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402775)

Doesn't matter which 'journalists' are held to what standards, unless all are held to the same critique.

The real tragedy here was expecting any facts to come out of FoxConn and China on the fab plants that Apple has been using, and any questionable or illegal labor practices therein. Suicides not-with-standing, of course.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402921)

This is right. I saw his performance and it was amazing. It was obviously over the top and used melodrama and lots of artistic license. I don't think anyone in the audience believed it 100%. That really wasn't the point. The point was to make emotional connections between the devices and the working conditions, which as other proper journalists have found, are egregious. His show served to make it visceral which it did. He's clearly not a journalist, and shouldn't've gone on TAL without big caveats.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403001)

That sounds like how a Rick Santorum fan would justify his controversial views.

Let's face it, lying to get people on your side is detestable, and using euphemisms like "creative activist" in place of lying is doing him (and yourself) no favors.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403095)

That sounds like how a Rick Santorum fan would justify his controversial views.

Really? Rick Santorum would blame himself and those on his side with failing to clearly articulate a strong analysis of a complex topic? I find that hard to believe, but I'm open to being educated. Show me.

Let's face it, lying to get people on your side is detestable

Depends what you're lying about and how you're lying. I'm just waiting for the scathing critique of the journalistic integrity of George Orwell because, did you know? The content in Nineteen Eighty-Four is not factually true!

and using euphemisms like "creative activist" in place of lying is doing him (and yourself) no favors.

I already clarified that: he is an activist who engages in creative work. I would use the same term for satirists, politically motivated novelists, a lot of folk musicians, and so on. The "lying" that he did was part of a dramatization; those of us who paid attention knew that when it aired, not just when This American Life retracted. Political theater always mixes truth with fiction. That's the nature of the genre.

Avid TAL Fan Here (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402463)

Wasn't the problem here not that what Daisey reported was false, but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with? Of course from a journalistic standpoint that is awful but it is now sweeping these problems under the rug.

Foxconn can now act like there were no problems and ignore them just because the source used was a secondary source reported as a primary source.

So, being an avid TAL fan, here are some things I remember from the two episodes that he lied about (remember Cathy Lee was his translator):

  • Guards with guns (in fact, Cathy has never seen one)
  • Factory workers meeting at Starbucks
  • Visited 10 factories (he only visited 3 according to Cathy)
  • Meeting N-Hexane victims
  • meeting underage workers (he actually guessed a bunch of young looking girls' ages)
  • meeting a hundred factory workers (play says 100, Daisey later says 25-30 now cathy says 2 or 3)
  • metal press victim who was fired for workin too slowly
  • a lot of the emotional interractions with Cathy
  • he presented himself as a "writer/actor" to Cathy but influenced our impression of Apple
  • didn't go on the exit ramp with Cathy
  • did go to dorm rooms for workers but lied about cameras in them
  • Cathy claims she never separated with Mike at the factory
  • Cathy says he never spoke to workers in English
  • he lied about Cathy's availability and phone number to occlude This American Life's factchecking

The things that really worry me are he calls this "unpacking the complexities of how the stories get told" or "untying the story" in the second episode. This guy reminds me of the religious leaders from my youth who will tell you complex lies about their own personal experiences and they justify it by the fact that you are duped into believing past a mark that the evidence justifies. It's gross and disgusting that he washes his hands of it and calls his thing a performance while never straightening out TAL on the specifics.

Like you said, some of the things happened but at what scale? Daisey makes it sound like you could fly there and pick a factory and you'd find it all. Good for TAL for devoting a full hour to what they had misrepresented. I'm still a huge TAL fan.

And every time you think twitter and blogging and Slashdot have replaced modern journalism, behold the above danger.

Re:Avid TAL Fan Here (4, Informative)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402537)

And every time you think twitter and blogging and Slashdot have replaced modern journalism, behold the above danger.

This, a thousand times.

Not just this story but it was thanks to real capital J Journalism that we got the facts behind KONY 2012 and Invisible Children. I think that Charlie Brooker's take on it is particularly great.

Evil will always win because Good is dumb (4, Insightful)

Comboman (895500) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402625)

Anti-corporate "journalists" like Daisey and Michael Moore do irreparable damage to the causes they supposedly support by playing loose with the facts. If I were conspiracy minded, I might assume they were working for the very corporations they rail against.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402771)

So...Fake, but accurate?

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403107)

That is essentially his defense, but now that he is a self-admitted liar on this topic, how can we assume that even the most basic facts are accurate? And if we have other ways to confirm them, then what purpose does he serve? There is no way around it: he's lying for profit.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (2)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402891)

Foxconn can now act like there were no problems and ignore them just because the source used was a secondary source reported as a primary source.

I'm just now listening to TAL's retraction show and I think that Mike Daisey, being more than just a pompous self-serving douche, has now just achieved the exact opposite of what he was purporting to do.

With all the press that Daisey and his show have gotten before he was exposed, all the public will think now, by glimpsing the current headlines, is that everything he said is a lie and they can effectively dismiss any real problems as exaggerations.

This is just sad for everyone trying to improve real problems with the working conditions in Chinese electronics plants.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402995)

That was the heart of the matter. But if you listened to the last TAL, there's more to it. Daisey is fundamentally disconnected from the fact that truth and art are not the same ; for the sake of his performance art he (like most politicians) thinks that truth is flexible. The only thing Daisey had a problem with is letting the original program be aired as fact -- he still thinks that his fiction is an accurate representation of reality. That is, reality need not conform to known facts. Really weird.

Re:I hope he realizes he did more harm than good (4, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403059)

Wasn't the problem here not that what Daisey reported was false, but just that he didn't directly speak to people he claimed to speak with? Of course from a journalistic standpoint that is awful but it is now sweeping these problems under the rug.

No, that was not the problem. As an example, Apple's "Supplier Responsibility" report says that Apple found a few dozen cases in total where people were employed before they were sixteen, but this was because of errors and improper age checking. So if Apple said the truth then it would be very, very unlikely that a journalist at the entrance of a Foxconn factory would spot anyone who is not sixteen yet. It would be impossible to find anyone who is 12, 13, or 14. But that is exactly what he claimed, which would make Apple liars.

Next, some people were injured through chemicals. You would think that if things are done right, workers who get injured go to hospital, get treated until they are fine, and come back fine and go back to work. And that's what Apple's report says. Daisey said he met many workers who were so ill that they couldn't even lift a glass. That is a completely different matter. If workers either didn't get treatment, or are so bad even after treatment, then the situation is hundred times worse than Apple claimed.

So there are two lies already that made Apple and Foxconn look an awful lot worse than they should.

Louis Woo is their spokesman? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402303)

I guess that the real story that Mike Daisey didn't uncover is that Foxconn is a Puppeteer front company.

Re:Louis Woo is their spokesman? (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402317)

Phew, I wasn't the only one.

Re:Louis Woo is their spokesman? (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402509)

Phew, I wasn't the only one.

Indeed, but let's not forget that the surname of the famous Ringworld protagonist was spelled "Wu", not "Woo".

Re:Louis Woo is their spokesman? (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403153)

"Woo" is not proper pin yin (chinese romanization), so it would be spelled "Wu" in other circumstances. Clearly a Puppeteer agent. ;)

Re:Louis Woo is their spokesman? (2)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403185)

> was spelled "Wu", not "Woo".

Spelling is often lost in translation.

Until my great grandfather got to Ellis, our family name was "Smith"

Re:Louis Woo is their spokesman? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402485)

Does that mean that Foxconn is also using Chinese slave labor to manufacture General Products Hulls? If so, now we know how the Chinese are going to the moon.

Re:Louis Woo is their spokesman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402861)

It is good to see that people are still reading the classics! :-)

Funny.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402331)

It's almost like we can seize killer supply-chains, harness proactive functionalities, and utilise collaborative action-points.

Why was his "act" presented as "fact"? (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402373)

What I don't understand is why his "act" was presented as "fact" by the Times.

Their excuse is that it was an "op-ed". Opinion pieces are normally clearly identified as such; this piece was not.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to assume that all the issues raised were bullshit because of the lies that were told, which means that if there was any truth at all, it's just been conveniently swept under the rug.

Bozo boy has done FAR more harm to the idea of protecting foreign workers than he could ever have imagined through this literal bullshit.

Clarification (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402403)

I misread a bit of the article. "This American Life" is not owned by the New York Times as I thought; the Times had to retract a different article by the same fellow.

But that still doesn't change the fundamental problem: Why was a "comedian's" opinion presented as fact?

This is ONE case where I think Apple SHOULD sue.

Re:Clarification (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403175)

While Apple throws around lawsuits like toilet paper, I think that, like Foxconn, they'll leave it alone. For one, there's the Streisand Effect to consider - filing suit will allow the whole case to live on, and with a higher profile. Second, it won't do any good - even if Apple can demonstrate damages, which I doubt, it's not like Daisey could cough up enough money to matter. Third, it presents an avenue for real investigation in a court of law, where every undercover investigation and audit could be admissible, and Foxconn workers subpoenaed and testify.

Re:Why was his "act" presented as "fact"? (2)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402431)

Actually this was a point by Ira Glass. That in presenting the story as fact, they gave the story the backing of TAL which does very hard work trying to verify the facts in the case.

TAL's reputation is now tarnished, however, not for long I suspect.

Re:Why was his "act" presented as "fact"? (3)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402453)

What I don't understand is why his "act" was presented as "fact" by the Times.

Because he was going around from media outlet to media outlet portraying it as fact. When you say to a reporter "I went to these places, spoke to these people, and saw these things", it's going to be taken as fact. And his "act" did include a lot of factual statements and observations, he just made some up. But at no time did he come out say: "this is based on true events". He protrayed as an actual, factual record of what happened.

Re:Why was his "act" presented as "fact"? (2)

YurB (2583187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402495)

Yes. This is a good example of what "lie to help" may lead to... Even Wikipedia has forbidden so-called "original research" and most articles will let you verify facts in different sources. Actually it (Wikipedia) taught me to try verify things all the time and only have my own opinion rather than blindly accepting someone's else. Unfortunately this may be time-consuming, so the first rule is don't spread unless verified...

Re:Why was his "act" presented as "fact"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402587)

Bullshit was coming out of his mouth. Literally .

Re:Why was his "act" presented as "fact"? (1, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402825)

The Times and the other outlets presented this fact because it fit their preconceived ideas.

The real tragedy is (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402405)

If there are misdeeds occurring at Foxconn, they haven't been exposed. Any potential problems being reported can now be brushed under the carpet of potential "bs" tied to this story.

He did a huge disservice to exposing truth, good or bad, about Foxconn. If Foxconn isn't all that bad to work for, it would have been great to know - if it is a hell hole, it would have been great to know. But, this just clouds the water in getting to the bottom of it.

Shame, because it would be great to have an unbiased report.

Re:The real tragedy is (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402469)

I'm sure most factories in China are Hell Holes! They have less standards then Mexico.

Re:The real tragedy is (3, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402603)

Based on what? I've never visited a Foxconn factory, so, it is hard to say if it is or isn't, personally.

Re:The real tragedy is (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402895)

Based on my intuition. If you had a choice to work at Foxconn in China, or a Factory in Silicon Valley, and not know the working conditions of either place, which would you choose? Just because I've never been to China, doesn't mean I'm completely naive about what goes on their.

Re:The real tragedy is (0)

fliptout (9217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403177)

If you have never been to China, you have absolutely nothing to add to the conversation.

Wrong Lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402409)

If you read up on the whole thing, most of what this guy said really is true. For example, there was a factory where a bunch of Foxconn workers got poisoned from chemicals. This clown got the location wrong, and claimed he spoke with the workers, which he did not. But it doesn't change the fact the workers DID get poisoned.

I'm not excusing this dickwad's actions, but Apple is doing a very good job of spinning the entire report as false when in reality most of the abuses really did happen.

Re:Wrong Lies (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403129)

Exactly how are "Apple spinning the entire report as false" ?

I've not read *anything* about this from Apple. I've read a whole spectrum of pieces from idiotic through incisive reporting from both sides, I've read real journalists eviscerate Daisey once the truth came out, and I've read his "account" of things he "saw". Apple have remained quite impressively restrained on the matter, as far as I can tell. I'm not sure I could be as restrained if some douchebag was lying about me in a public forum.

Simon

Foxconn made cheap motherboards (0)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402441)

I remember purchasing Motherboards to build Desktops, and Foxconn was considered to be the cheap brand. I guess that accounts for all the cheap labor. I wouldn't believe anything Mr. Woo has to say.

Re:Foxconn made cheap motherboards (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402471)

This weekend saw a killer deal for a cheap HTPC barebones kit. The only reason I didn't buy it was because it was Foxconn made. I can't be sure about other electronics- who knows if they were built in similar bad conditions- but when a box is branded Foxconn I know it is safe to avoid.

Re:Foxconn made cheap motherboards (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402695)

And each time I see another /. sotory on the Rasberry PI, I wonder exactly where those are being made.....

Re:Foxconn made cheap motherboards (1)

huge (52607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402559)

I hear you, but could you please elaborate a bit how do you draw the connection from this:

I guess that accounts for all the cheap labor.

to this:

I wouldn't believe anything Mr. Woo has to say.

If you have other reasons why you don't trust what Mr. Woo said, maybe it'd be worthwhile to air those as well.

Re:Foxconn made cheap motherboards (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402809)

My GUT feeling tells me this, as I'm sure it does for most people. I don't have to see a RAT to know that one exists.

Re:Foxconn made cheap motherboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39403213)

So he's a liar, and your proof is that liars exist?

I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (3, Insightful)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402449)

I am so glad we now know Foxconn is so nice. Those employees who live in Foxconns worker camps and jump off buildings are probably just depressed that one day they would have to retire.

Seriously- the show was a fraud- but that doesn't mean Foxconn is good. I really don't know- but evidence probably points towards it not being an ideal utopia. The reason Foxconn isn't pursuing legal action is probably because they know it would end up exposing a bunch of bad stuff that really does happen resulting in more bad PR.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402541)

The rate of suicides at Foxconn is lower than that of the population at large in China. I'm not saying Foxconn is wonderful, but disinformation is disinformation.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (3, Informative)

aslagle (441969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402607)

You do know that Foxconn's suicide rate is much lower than the China national average, right?

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (4, Insightful)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402675)

Do you have a link to the statistics of suicide rate of employed individuals in China? Same could be said of any country/company- suicide rates tend to be hiring amongst the unemployed and the convicted.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402937)

These are factories with hundreds of thousands of employees. There basically a mall city or a large town by US standards. Their suicide rate is lower than a similarly sized us city.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402763)

Those employees who live in Foxconns worker camps and jump off buildings are probably just depressed that one day they would have to retire.

Ah yes, the older lie. Foxconn employs almost a million people. When you have that many people in a group, some of them will commit suicide. We measure the extent to which that happens by "the suicide rate". The fact is that the suicide rate at those factories is significantly lower than the general suicide rate of Chinese people.

i.e. Foxconn employees are LESS likely to comit suicide than your average chinese person.

There's a strong desire amongst many in America to believe anything bad about china, and a stronger one amongst many on slashdot to believe anything bad that can be somehow associated with Apple. So bad things about Foxconn are something that lots of people want to believe. The fact that they tend to be lies and distortions doesn't seem to put these people off at all.

People tend to have a stronger to will to believe what they want to believe than to find out what's really true.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403017)

I think the Post Office has the same PR issue. At one point, there were over a million employees, but the term "going postal" -- well, that stuck.

Statistics don't really impact people at a basic level.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402843)

I am so glad we now know Foxconn is so nice. Those employees who live in Foxconns worker camps and jump off buildings are probably just depressed that one day they would have to retire.

Seriously- the show was a fraud- but that doesn't mean Foxconn is good. I really don't know- but evidence probably points towards it not being an ideal utopia. The reason Foxconn isn't pursuing legal action is probably because they know it would end up exposing a bunch of bad stuff that really does happen resulting in more bad PR.

The problem with having this discussion on the Internet is that things are either black or white. Foxconn factories are either "an ideal utopia" or Dickensian hellholes. People are either haters or fanboys.

Look, the Foxconn plants are not anyplace you or I would want to work. From what data we have, however, there is nothing that makes them any different from the Chinese factories that produce all the other non-Apple, non-Foxconn electronics you own.

Suicides are no more common than you would expect.. We're talking about a hundred or so out of a workforce of approximately a quarter-million.

From what I can tell, the biggest real issue is that workers often exceed 60 hours a week. People disagree on why; some say the factories punish workers who don't; others say workers deliberately skirt the rules to work overtime. In all likelihood, the problem is an ingrained factory culture of overtime, where "everyone does it" and nobody wants to be "left behind."

Underage workers have been discovered but are fairly rare. They don't seek out child workers; why would they when there are plenty of adults that aren't any more expensive? The children are there because they lied and said they were adults; they get paid as adults and get fired when they're found out.

Worker safety is horrible, just as you would expect in a third-world factory.

Mike Daisey has pretty much blown any chance anyone had at reforming Chinese labor practices from without. Many people hoped that, by focusing solely on Apple, as one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, activists could force reforms on the industry. Daisey overplayed his hand, and his bluff was called. Nice job.

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402997)

When you learn that SOME of the information you built your assumptions on are wrong -- it's a good idea to CHECK the rest.

Those suicides at FoxConn amount to about 3 in 100,000. Since FoxConn has around 900,000 employees -- it seems like a lot, but it's less than the average in the US or China.

Being a worker in China sucks -- we can all admit that. It seems to me, however, that the "dorms" mean free room and board. So would NOT getting housing and a meal with the same pay be a bonus? We have to look at relative lifestyle between the average worker and the average FoxConn worker.

The reality is, of the big 4 -- FoxConn is the most sought after -- and guess what? Apple has been pushing for better conditions and a raise. Almost EVERY major electronics manufacturer uses Chinese labor -- but who pushed to handle dangerous chemicals more safely? Apple computer. In fact, they've been the biggest whistleblower.

Is IBM and Sony getting hammered in the press? We have to ask how everyone is incensed about iPads -- but no mention of other products. The press that reports this stuff is either IGNORING basic research which I can find out in 10 seconds -- or they are willfully ignoring the real issues. What's your excuse?

Re:I am so glad Foxconn is so nice (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403197)

So I guess if one company treats their slaves a little better than another place, it's OK. Apple doesn't care about the environment, they only care about profits. That's why they keep rolling out new iPad's every year! Use up all our natural resources, pollute the environment, all for what? So you can hold that shiny new iPad 3 that has higher resolution than your previous iPad? I think some of us are just upset with the bigger picture, that's just my 2 cents.

Daisey's Response (2, Informative)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402527)

Mike Daisey comments on "This American Life" controversy. [blogspot.com]

In other news, Political Cartoons should not also be taken as literal fact.

Especially if they have talking ducks in them.

Re:Daisey's Response (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39402597)

Which is an amazingly disingenuous response. Mike Daisy presents his monologues as first hand experiences . That is a flat out lie. Are his other monologues similarly not encumbered by the truth?

And he was told, repeatedly, that This American Life considers actual facts to be important.

And it also matters a lot. IF a random American in a hawaiian shirt would find out all this it would be a much more serious problem than the reality, which is bad but no where near as atrocious as he presents it.

Foxconn "Glad That Mike Daisey's Lies Were Exposed (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402739)

Folks, you gotta realize that the Left will lie about anything, and repeat the lies until they are believed.

It's for the children!

Binary thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39402985)

Mike Daisey is a liar, so therefore Foxconn is a good company?

Perspective (0)

tsj5j (1159013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403055)

Despite all the negative press around Foxconn, I'd still like people to take these matters into perspective.

China is experiencing growing pains, where it sometimes sacrifices the benefits/rights of its citizens to ensure more people are fed and its economy can grow to support its population. Most other countries have experienced such pains, and have taken time to progress past that stage. Some point out that we can try to reduce the length of that stage by applying pressure. Well, the only non-destructive plan would be to inject huge amounts of money into China for them to develop their infrastructure and economy. Otherwise, any plans by a "rights activists" will simply stunt China's growth, jobs, economies and throw their citizens into poverty and joblessness.

Now, on the other hand, if your goal isn't to encourage rights in China but to "bring the jobs back" as an act of vengeance or desperation, then arguing for better rights in China might serve your goal. But don't argue for such under pretenses of desiring "far rights to all". As such arguments will do nothing to help them, and will certainly backfire.

Hard to replace. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403257)

The interesting is that Foxconn actually offers a better work environment than many companies in China, and especially those by Chinese. Foxconn is a Taiwanese company, in case you're confused. The companies producing stuff domestically offer some of the most deplorable working environments which is why Chinese tend to flock to foreign companies. And the interesting thing is that it's been shown that many Chinese cities have a higher suicide rate than Foxconn's sprawling campus, a city in it's own right.

And the fact is that Apple is extremely unlikely to end their relationship with Foxconn. There aren't many companies out there that can manufacture electronics with such consistent quality, and be able to meet demand time and time again and likely at a decent cost. This is not a trivial skill set and certainly not something easily replaced.

This is not to say that things are ideal. But then no one wants electronics to cost double what they do now.

I saw Mike Daisey... (2)

mbeckman (645148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39403261)

I saw Mike Daisey cut off a woman's hand and feed it to her dog. For money.

No, wait. I didn't. That was theater.

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