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Repercussions of Reporting on Apple 'Sweatshops'

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the hard-news dept.

120

PRC Banker writes "Following the media attention over Apple using 'sweatshop' tactics to manufacture iPods, facts were disseminated making things seem not as bad as first reported. However, recent developments suggest that 'Apple Computer's iPod supplier FoxConn has decided to sue the media for mis-reporting on working conditions in their factories. Rather than sue the British tabloids, FoxConn sues a Shanghai newspaper. The reporter has a translated version of his personal experience and thoughts.' Powerful Chinese company threatens local media. Worrying indeed, especially given this company's track record. The president of Foxconn is the richest man in Taiwan, and the company has attempted to use coercion in the past."

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No worries. (4, Funny)

DrunkenTerror (561616) | about 8 years ago | (#15985766)

It's Apple-related, so it's ok.

Re:No worries. (4, Informative)

mp3phish (747341) | about 8 years ago | (#15985789)

To throw more flames on the coles, Foxconn is also Dell's largest supplier of components. So this isn't just an Apple article, it explains why the Foxconn president is the richest man in the (eastern) world.

Re:No worries. (1)

legoburner (702695) | about 8 years ago | (#15985820)

A pointless factoid: the president of Foxconn owns a large castle in the Czech Republic, which, (according to wikipedia) is used for employee holidays.

Re:No worries. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985855)

Employee or Employer? Probably only the upper tiers of upper management, if you can call people who take their own private jets to the boss's castle employees anymore.

Re:No worries. (2, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | about 8 years ago | (#15985873)

Are you sure that it is in the Chech republic or in Transilvania?

Transilvania is rumoured more appropriate for employee holidays, but it is in northern Romania (though Hungary claims Romania has annexed it unlawfully after WW-I).

Re:No worries. (2, Funny)

GreyPoopon (411036) | about 8 years ago | (#15989164)

Transilvania is rumoured more appropriate for employee holidays
As I understand, it does a wonderful job of producing employees who actually prefer to work the night shift while at the same time creating a convenient way to dispose of troublemakers. ;)

Re:No worries. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985863)

"flames on the coles"
"Your ignorance is infinitely greater than you realize."

You're an idiot.

not richest (not even in the Eastern world) (2, Informative)

krunk4ever (856261) | about 8 years ago | (#15986049)

According to Forbes World's Richest Person [forbes.com] , the richest Asian is Thomas Raymond & Walter Kwok (Hong Kong) at $10.9 billion. If you think that's unfair with 2 people, Lee Shau Kee (Hong Kong) is next at $9.3 billion. Terry Guo only has $3.2 billion:

http://www.forbes.com/static/bill2005/LIRX28Q.html ?passListId=10&passYear=2005&passListType=Person&u niqueId=X28Q&datatype=Person [forbes.com]

Re:not richest (not even in the Eastern world) (1)

hhw (683423) | about 8 years ago | (#15987460)

Lee Ka Shing exceeds all of these at 13.0 Billion, if you mean Asian by residence. He is in turn exceeded by Lakshmi Mittal with 25.0 Billion, if you go by citizenship.

Damning Comments About Foxconn by "Businessweek" (1)

reporter (666905) | about 8 years ago | (#15988035)

In a recent article [businessweek.com] , "Businessweek" made some damning comments about Foxconn. According to the article, when a manager from HP demanded to inspect the working conditions in the Chinese factories run by the Chinese managers of Taiwan-based Foxconn, the Chinese managers resisted. Why would Foxconn resist if its management were treating its workers well?

The Chinese (in both mainland China and Taiwan province) simply do not care about workers' rights. Foxconn is a Chinese company based in Taiwan.

To understand how horribly Chinese (from Taiwan) treat their workers, read a shocking article [corpwatch.org] by the "San Francisco Chronicle". According to the article, the Taiwanese managers beat up their Central American laborers when they could not produce their assigned quota of blue jeans.

Foxconn vs. Apple vs. Dell (4, Informative)

mp3phish (747341) | about 8 years ago | (#15985775)

Foxconn is also Dell's largest supplier of system components. The only thing foxconn doesn't make that is in a Dell business system is the plastics and chassis (and even then, most are Foxconn)

Does this mean that corporate america is funding political terrorists?

Re:Foxconn vs. Apple vs. Dell (2, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | about 8 years ago | (#15985779)

What political terrorism?

Sueing for libel doesnt exactly count. (valid claim or not)

Re:Foxconn vs. Apple vs. Dell (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#15988031)

Does this mean that corporate america is funding political terrorists?

Well, they're funding themselves, so....yeah.

And if some people think "terrorism" is too strong a word to use for these type of people, I ask you to look up the definition of the word. Those who run "corporate america" definitely use their influence to threaten and instill fear in others.

Yet more evidence QWZX (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985776)

Apple associating with an evil company? Oh, no, this is so unexpected. ::rolls eyes::

Yes, it really is true is that Apple is one of the worst corporations in the world. From lawsuits designed to destroy people to lying in their advertising to screwing their customers to screwing their shareholders via accounting fraud. When are people going to wake up?

Pick up a Steve Jobs biography some time. This is NOT a good guy.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (1, Funny)

ral8158 (947954) | about 8 years ago | (#15985790)

Someone's sour about not getting a $300 Mac for christmas.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (0)

mp3phish (747341) | about 8 years ago | (#15985798)

Macs cost 300$?

Hey, can you show me the deal for that on fatwallet? I searched all day and couldn't find the coupon code.. Maybe I missed the hot deal?

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (1)

shawnce (146129) | about 8 years ago | (#15985819)

...no maybe you just missed the point of his remark.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985831)

No, I got the point of his remark just fine thank you very much..

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (0)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 8 years ago | (#15985794)

And we all know that Microsoft has never ever screwed people over.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985827)

And we all know that Microsoft has never ever screwed people over.

Er, who mentioned Microsoft? I guess your point is that if one can find someone worse than Apple, then Apple must be all right.

But since you bring up Microsoft, at least MS doesn't sue people left and right. At least MS doesn't charge $129 for minor updates (note that updates for the last three years have been FREE). At least MS doesn't make bullshit claims in their advertising (e.g., "twice as fast"). At least MS and Bill Gates (separately) give away immense amounts to charity (Apple gives discounts to schools in order to cynically "lock them in" as future customers). MS is known as a wonderful company to work for. Apple is known as a sweatshop, where you're luck if you don't answer directly to Steve Jobs, who is known as a gigantic a-hole to anyone who's worked with him.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985881)

Mod parent up!

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (4, Insightful)

simX (928983) | about 8 years ago | (#15987763)

Did you REALLY just say that?! Are you serious? Let's address the inaccuracies.

First, "updates" like Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger are not "minor". They are "major upgrades". They introduce new features. Jaguar introduced bayesian filtering, Quartz Extreme, system-wide accessible Address Book, Bonjour (né Rendezvous), iChat, Inkwell, CUPS, etc., etc. Panther introduced Exposé, Fast User Switching, FileVault, iChat video-conferencing, Font Book, system-wide faxing, etc., etc. Tiger introduced Jaguar, Spotlight, Automator, VoiceOver, RSS in Safari, etc., etc. Leopard is going to introduce Time Machine, Spaces, new versions of Front Row and Photo Booth, system-wide To Do service, etc., etc. Are you really calling these MINOR updates?

Let's see, in contrast, what are Microsoft's service packs? Pure bug fixes. No, the addition of a firewall and additional security aren't new features -- they're there because people were getting fed up with the viruses and worms that were (and still are) attacking Windows. That's bug fixing. Windows XP SP1 and SP2 are comparable to incremental updates like 10.4 --> 10.4.1, or 10.3.8 --> 10.3.9, not major updates like 10.3 --> 10.4 which Apple charges for.

Then you say that MS doesn't make bullshit claims in their advertising. That's a good one! Let's just take their latest "people_ready" advertising. If Windows were really "people_ready", then it wouldn't have all the viruses and trojans plaguing the platform.

Then you say, in an off-hand comment, that Apple gives discounts to schools to cynically "lock them in" as future customers. That's another good one! Microsoft doesn't offer any discounts to schools whatsoever? (Bullshit!) If you want to talk about cynical lock-ins, look at Microsoft's class-action settlements in California, where they attempted to foist Windows software on the claimants rather than giving them money. And that's not cynically locking people in? You've got a really short memory, it seems.

As for whether MS or Apple are great companies for which to work, I can't really comment on that because I've never worked for either. But I doubt you have either.

So let's tally up the points. 4 bullshit arguments. Oh.. *sniff* do you smell that? Oh, yes, I know that smell -- it's a Windows troll!

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15988591)

So when Apple introduces new things that the operating system previously didn't do in their new version they are features, but when Microsoft does the same thing they're bug fixes?

Pot meet kettle

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (2, Insightful)

simX (928983) | about 8 years ago | (#15988998)

No, maybe you didn't get my point. Windows is fundamentally broken, as shown by the sheer number of viruses and trojans that affect Windows. "Introducing" security "features" helps to alleviate the damage that viruses and trojans cause. But since those viruses and trojans were causing the problems, the "new" security "features" help to fix a problem that shouldn't have been there in the first place -- i.e.: a bug fix.

Zero-configuration networking doesn't fix a bug that shouldn't have been there in the first place. Exposé doesn't either. System-wide Address Book or To Do services don't either. These are REAL features, value added to the operating system.

It's funny, because I didn't even address the fact that Microsoft makes a broken product (Windows) and then even SELLS yet *ANOTHER* product that ostensibly fixes the flaws in Windows that shouldn't have existed in the first place! And the grandparent post calls APPLE "cynical"! Hahahahaha.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15989690)

Those updates were far from major. To be honest I don't think as an end user I would give a shit about a single one of them. Half just added more bundled software that I would either not need or have found an alternative for anyway. The other seemed incremental. RSS feeds in safari? Congrats to apple on that one! Then you talk about all of the fancy new apis but seem to forget ms has released GDI+, .net, directx9 all for free. Following the MAC philosophy they should have charged for all of those "major" upgrades. Keep your zealotry elsewhere.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986290)

You're right, they have screwed people over. But atleast they offer lubricant beforehand, unlike Apple.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (1)

aichpvee (631243) | about 8 years ago | (#15988065)

How come you can't hate both? Worst argument ever. You fail.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (2, Insightful)

Millenniumman (924859) | about 8 years ago | (#15985942)

Can you give examples, and how it actually affects people? I can claim the FSF is poisoning the water supply, but that doesn't make it true.

Who have they tried to "destroy"?

How do they lie in there advertising?

In my experience, they have always had good customer service. What are you referring to?

Apple isn't evil.
Microsoft isn't evil.
Google isn't evil.

Re:Yet more evidence QWZX (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | about 8 years ago | (#15989190)

I've read a couple, but I don't think you have.

Pretty poor troll, although the lack of any real facts is good.

Da Trut (1, Insightful)

saihung (19097) | about 8 years ago | (#15985801)

In the USA, truth is always a defense against libel. In China, the truth is what the government says it is and if you're the media there is often no defense if someone powerful is out to get you. The Taiwan connection is interesting, but not surprising: people living in free societies can be pretty feckless when it comes to depriving those in non-free societies of those same freedoms.

Re:Da Trut (2, Informative)

soft_guy (534437) | about 8 years ago | (#15985815)

They are in Taiwan, not China. Taiwan is a free society.

Re:Da Trut (1)

MustardMan (52102) | about 8 years ago | (#15985902)

Taiwan is a free society.

Try telling that to china!

Re:Da Trut (2, Informative)

saihung (19097) | about 8 years ago | (#15987682)

Please read more carefully before you correct others. The factory facility is located in Longhua in southern China. The controlliing corporation is headquartered in Taiwan. Hence those in a free society (Taiwan) are not worried about denying those freedoms to others (in China).

Re:Da Trut (1)

acornboy (920113) | about 8 years ago | (#15988153)

Funny last i heard Taiwan held elections that were at least as believable as the U.S. elections... and no Diebold there i believe.

This is a common trend in China (2, Interesting)

Parallax Blue (836836) | about 8 years ago | (#15985813)

Chinese media, especially newspapers, are a popular target for retribution. Report on something damaging to a major company or the government and you could find yourself out of a job [findarticles.com] or worse. It seems you're expected to totally ignore any potentially damaging news and stick to safe topics (ex: what the gov't tells you to report on.)

My guess is that this company figures they have a better chance of exacting revenge on a newspaper in China than on British tabloids.

-Parallax

Re:This is a common trend in China (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#15985876)

s/China/USA/g

Re:This is a common trend in China (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#15988039)

My thoughts exactly. And when an American doesn't get fired/sued, the friendly folks at Fox News and other ruling class-friendly places will try their damnedest to destroy your career.

Re:This is a common trend in China (1)

calculadoru (760076) | about 8 years ago | (#15987796)

No points left or else I would mod you up. Quite why a simple statement of fact like yours was modded down as a troll is beyond me.

Re:This is a common trend in China (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 8 years ago | (#15987986)

Or maybe, they don't care what british tabloids say and worry more about bad press in their own country. Setting aside the morality of crushing someone into silence becuase you have more money than them. It makes perfectly good sense to go after local media. And, this happens in the states all the time. Money is power, it has been since medieval times where Kings could order money delivered to them and have detractors killed. In such a strongly Capitalist country such as the states I find it reprehensable that you would lash out at China. Perhaps you feel the squeeze and realize that China will pass everyone and become the world power. Then lets see what happens. I can guarantee, the US will change any laws necessary to keep up with China, after being top dog for so long it makes sense that you don't want to lose your position. China has no pollution controls giving it an advantage, US has some, those will disapear as China gets closer to taking the spot. Bash China if you want, lets see what is happening in 10 years.

who modded parent as troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15988550)

Apple and the Chinese Government I suspect.

Boo Hoo (2, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | about 8 years ago | (#15985837)

The media tries to damage a company (and all the people working there, and all the stockholders and suppliers) with a distorted drive-by hit story. It's a little refreshing to see someone hitting back for a change.

Re:Boo Hoo (1)

AgentFade2Black (968245) | about 8 years ago | (#15985851)

But are you sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these allegations are false?

Re:Boo Hoo (2, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 8 years ago | (#15985878)

It's more like "media loses == I'm happy".

When bad things happen to the press it's a step forward for everyone getting the full story on what's going on instead of just the bits that feed the reporter's biases (even if the reporter has to make them up). The news in the newspaper has become less true and less balanced than the advertisements.

Re:Boo Hoo (1)

imemyself (757318) | about 8 years ago | (#15985893)

And you think this lawsuit is going to *improve* the quality of newspapers? It will have the exact opposite effect. Newspapers will be even less likely to report on anything that might piss anyone off. Why work hard and risk getting sued by reporting on corporate wrong-doing when you can reprint their press releases and spend ten pages talking about entertainment bullshit?

Re:Boo Hoo (2, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 8 years ago | (#15986000)

And you think this lawsuit is going to *improve* the quality of newspapers?

I think almost all newspapers will go out of business in the next 15 years either way.

Newspapers will be even less likely to report on anything that might piss anyone off.

Maybe they'll have to double-check their facts. Maybe they'll have to get both sides of the story. Perhaps they'll have to take a skeptical look at the authenticity of their documents and photographs.

Why work hard and risk getting sued by reporting on corporate wrong-doing when you can reprint their press releases and spend ten pages talking about entertainment bullshit?

Why work at all when you can just make stuff up? Why find out the whole story when you can print "allegations"? Why be balanced when you can simply indulge your anti-corporate hatred? Why serve your readers the whole story when you can just use bumper-sticker terms like "sweatshop" to appeal to their juvenile emotions? Why bother with reality when there's a story to be told?

I would agree with you if you were talking about some time in the past (say 1900-1960). The news media has become a huge destructive force. The cost of their lies outweighs the value of everything else they do by a large margin. We have the internet now. We don't have to pay that cost any more.

Re:Boo Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15988928)

The cost of their lies outweighs the value of everything else they do by a large margin. We have the internet now.

Ah yes, the Internet: bastion of truth and balance. ;-)

I have lost track, is it News media or Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985896)

That is held in lower esteam by society. Lawyers dig themselves pretty low, but so do reporters with a bias against somebody, or just trying to sell their media.

Re:Boo Hoo (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 8 years ago | (#15985943)

And you know who's to blame for that? You. That's right. Everytime you don't challenge your newspaper about a story, you're a willing participant in the charade. Everytime you turn on TV and watch a broadcast-and-run story that is patently false, you support the channel. How do you fix? Get your news from trustworthy sources. Oh, wait. You probably dont know how to determine if a source is trustworthy. Sorry, I can't help you there. Critical thinking is not something I'm willing to teach in the course of a slashdot post.

Re:Boo Hoo (1)

AgentFade2Black (968245) | about 8 years ago | (#15985967)

Speaking of advertisements:

Has it ever occured to you that perhaps advertisers may very well have an agenda they funnel through the press, via which stories they tell? Imbalance is not due to bias; it is due to corporate greed.

Re:Boo Hoo (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 8 years ago | (#15986026)

Has it ever occured to you that perhaps advertisers may very well have an agenda they funnel through the press, via which stories they tell? Imbalance is not due to bias; it is due to corporate greed.

And your evidence for this is ... ?

It doesn't really matter why the press does a bad job. It matters how often and how long and what damage it does.

Re:Boo Hoo (1)

AgentFade2Black (968245) | about 8 years ago | (#15986193)

A book I have lying around somewhere in my house. I'll have to find it.

Re:Boo Hoo (1)

adzoox (615327) | about 8 years ago | (#15985889)

The report Apple released was pretty clear ... the reporter also has admitted to "embellishing" as well.

Or... (5, Funny)

kippers (809056) | about 8 years ago | (#15985841)

...maybe they were just aware that no-one believes British tabloids.

Re:Or... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | about 8 years ago | (#15986023)

...maybe they were just aware that no-one believes British tabloids.

Or possibly they were aware that the British gutter press have some seriously heavyweight libel lawyers on their side.

Except for the Private Eye, of course, which can't ever get hold of a decent libel lawyer for love or money...

ATTENTION MAC FAGS... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985856)

I expect this is news to you but not everybody likes taking it in the ass. These sweatshop workers are being proverbally buff-fucked by their government, foxxcon, apple and ultimately the consumer.

Re:ATTENTION MAC FAGS... (1)

lubricated (49106) | about 8 years ago | (#15985908)

They could always quit and find another job.

Re:TYPICAL MAC FAG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985918)

I couldn't help noticing that you're lubricated.

Re:TYPICAL MAC FAG... (1)

popeguilty (961923) | about 8 years ago | (#15985953)

Has to be, in order to be ready for when we adopt Chinese business practices out of a need to do so in order to compete with them.

At Apple... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15985897)

...we pass the slavings on to you!

Actually, we just keep most of it for ourselves.

Re:At Apple... (1)

Ricwot (632038) | about 8 years ago | (#15989531)

Buy shares, then you'll get some of the profits.

Price, Profit, Stock (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 8 years ago | (#15985919)

When I read articles like this I must ask what is the person who is buying these product doing. I mean it cost a finite amount of money to produce a product. Once you add overhead, the product may already be at a point where no one is willing to pay for it. Cutting overhead means cutting direct employees and management waste. To be competitive in the stock market one must have good numbers, the product does not really matter. Good numbers means low labor cost, high profits. The amount spent on management can be hidden. Contract costs cannot.

So mostly we benefit from these sweat shops. The low income have an opportunity to buy products. Everyone who has investment feels rich because companies can keep costs low, so the stock market isup and investors will buy more expensive things, like houses. People with houses feels better off than they are because they can leverage paper gains into real cash. The economy appears to be doing better than it is because in addition to the fake house cash, we also get loans from Asia so that we can afford to pay them for manufacturing in their swear shops.

But at the end of the day, it is the average persons desire for cheap stuff that drives the cycle. I wonder if Apple produced the 68K Powerbooks in sweatshops? I wonder if Dell could survive without sweatshops. Would we tolerate, would the american economy survive, the lack of sweat shops?

I certainly would want Apple to have a bit more dignity than say, Nike, but I don't hold my breath. As everyone says, Apples are too expensive, and the cost must come down. But think of this. I saw a documentary last year in which a european cell phone manufacturer audited their asian manufacturing facility. Overall it was not terrible. Many safety issues, but not unlike what one would see in the US. Most girls, cramped housing, but again not unlike the way young people live in the US. These workers were there earning a living and saving money, which, if you believe that a hard days work imbues dignity, could be a good thing. One interesting thing was that since the employees were living in company dorm, the company was officially much more responsible for their workers, like being liable if a girl got pregnant.

Which is simply to say that the simplifications made by most are simply useless. I believe we are in much more trouble than most will admit, and the solutions will require much broader adjustments in behavior, which will either be done voluntarily or by necessity. While much of this simplification is done to make it accessible to the common person, and the bias may often be unintentional, the fact that so often the blame lies elsewhere than the writer seem disingenuous.

Re:Price, Profit, Stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986020)

> Which is simply to say that the simplifications made by most are simply useless.

Sounds like an oversimplification to me...

go back to school and take us history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986128)

you fucking idiot

Re:go back to school and take us history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986833)

The problem is that many read history, but few reconcile it with experience. We see this in those that deny major historical fact based on an interpretation of the historical record, even though consensus historical record and direct experience points to it's truth. This is mostly caused to an emotional tie to the status quo, and a distinct ability to construct rational thoughts.

Magical thinking is supposed to end in infancy. You do not cease to exist just because others cannot see you. Building a tenable rationality does not make an act acceptable. And blaming other people for your problems does not make the pain any less real.

Re:Price, Profit, Stock (2, Insightful)

gutnor (872759) | about 8 years ago | (#15986357)

"So mostly we benefit from these sweat shops"

Sounds like an oxymoron. Everybody benefits from the sweatshops except the sweatshop workers. Same apply to slavery.

"would the american economy survive, the lack of sweat shops?"

That's not the right question to ask. You do not build a society optimised for economy, you build an economy that can sustain your society. ( you say "USA has been built based on value of Freedom" And not: "In order to maximise investment return, the USA should accept Freedom as a good starting moral value" )
Here, that's a simple society problem: do we think moral and acceptable to use sweatshops. There is no difference between bringing chinese workers in a US sweatshop or using chinese worker in a chinese sweatshop. However the second one is legal while the first one is considered immoral and banned in our society.

Now off course, the reality is that our economy is sweatshop addict. We hide our moral feeling by saying that sweatshop in China is still beter that starving or that after all we cannot force our "western moral" to Chinese. But that just a convenient facade because solving the moral problem without crashing our economy model is indeed complex.

Currently the only proposed solution is:
1. Give "solidarity" money to evolve mentality. ( like founding school, infrastructure, ... )
2. Exploit those society until their social condition evolve thanks to 1

Off course from a society point of view it is not always very efficient:
if (1) goes too well -> no more sweatshop -> outsourcing -> their brand new economy crash and they are back to square one.

In the future the situation should stabilise to something similar to Europe/US/Japan/.... But that doesn't mean that companies like Apple, Dell should not get trashed in the media from time to time, as a "moral" pressure valve.

Re:Price, Profit, Stock (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 8 years ago | (#15986359)

Would we tolerate, would the american economy survive, the lack of sweat shops?

On a similar note, would the Chinese economy survive the lack of sweat shops?

Re:Price, Profit, Stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986460)

"But at the end of the day, it is the average persons desire for cheap stuff that drives the cycle."

I strongly disagree. It is not the average person's desire for cheap stuff that drives the cycle, it is the people who hold stock in the company that drive the process. Just because a company cuts costs by moving their manufacturing operations to China doesn't mean that the stuff automatically becomes cheaper. Competition drives down prices, not slave labor. You are right on one point though, the stockholders only seem to care about quarterly results, and this puts pressure on the company to do whatever it can to get rid of expenses, be that cheat on the accounting, squeeze more out of its workforce by cutting things like pensions, or moving their business overseas where they can exploit people.

"I wonder if Apple produced the 68K Powerbooks in sweatshops? I wonder if Dell could survive without sweatshops."

Hmmm...is the survival of Dell more important than the exploitation of their workers? Is the health of the economy more important than basic human dignity?

"Would we tolerate, would the american economy survive, the lack of sweat shops?"

Would we tolerate...Are you serious? What is more important here?!?!?? Those are PEOPLE, HUMAN BEINGS working in those sweatshops!! People just like you and me!
Not only is a statement like that morally repugnant, it is also wrong on the economic theory front. Economies based on slave labor DO NOT WORK! They create two distinct "classes" of people: The people in charge, and the people who aren't. The rich and the poor. This is a recipe for disaster, as we have seen throughout history. The american economy was at its best back before manufacturing was done by people in sweatshops, in the 1950s-60s...but only if you were white.

"As everyone says, Apples are too expensive, and the cost must come down."

This statement is true, and it also shows why sweatshops don't benefit the consumer...namely the price for goods doesn't go down. There is no reason for apple to change their prices when people are already used to paying out of the ass for their stuff. They can just cut the cost of paying people a livable wage, keep the prices the same as they were before, and pocket the difference.

"Most girls, cramped housing, but again not unlike the way young people live in the US."

Yeah, that's what young people live like in the U.S., except for the small fact that most people don't live at their jobs.

"These workers were there earning a living and saving money, which, if you believe that a hard days work imbues dignity, could be a good thing."

Hahahahahaha...dignity working in a sweatshop to build things they won't be able to by, that go to a country that they'll never see, that are bought by people that don't even know they exist...yeah, that's dignity all right.

Re:Price, Profit, Stock (1)

Ricwot (632038) | about 8 years ago | (#15989474)

Or they could starve without a job, or get a lower paid one somewhere else. The reality is that for people in poor countries these are the alternatives. Just because their pay is laughable in a western context does not make it bad in the context of their country.

Manufacturing costs versus retail prices (2, Insightful)

zoeblade (600058) | about 8 years ago | (#15988652)

As everyone says, Apples are too expensive, and the cost must come down.

Branded products do not cost a lot to buy, yet have to be made astonishlingly cheaply, because they are better. They cost a lot, and have to be made cheaply, because much more money is spent on advertising the product than making the product. This is the simple reason why unbranded products can be rediculously cheaper than branded ones - partly because the corporation that makes the cheap product doesn't want to insinuate its product is better through having a high price, and partly because it doesn't need to advertise its product because its target market knows where to get it, likes the fact it's cheap, and doesn't need to be told repeatedly that it's good.

yeah (1)

misey (996068) | about 8 years ago | (#15985937)

i think i'd sleep a little better at night if my mac mini was made by a person who was paid fairly for the work they put in.

Re:yeah (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 8 years ago | (#15986051)

You could trust the person who put it together. He can determine whether he's paid fairly or not. And if not, he can choose to do something else.

See how that works? You sleep better by trusting people to live their own lives and make their own decisions. They can do that because they have more information about their lives than you do.

Re:yeah (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | about 8 years ago | (#15986336)

This is one of the most insightful and logical posts I have ever read on Slashdot.

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986407)

What ever gets you to sleep at night.

You know what they say, what you don't know can't hurt you, right?

Go live your life in blissful fucking ignorance while the rest of actually give a shit about other people.

Re:yeah (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 8 years ago | (#15986435)

You could trust the person who put it together. He can determine whether he's paid fairly or not. And if not, he can choose to do something else.

Like, instead of being a heavily underpaid sweatshop slave who might very well be underage, he or she could also choose to be free, hungry and soon to be dead from starvation. Not every person on this planet has the same scope of choices available.

Re:yeah (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 8 years ago | (#15986479)

Not every person on this planet has the same scope of choices available.

But among the choices he does have, I trust him to make the best one. He'll do a better job than you or me at choosing, because he has more information than we do about his life.

Slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15989061)

You're still wrong since you have oversimplified the issue.

By using your logic, you could also have slept soundly at night when the there were slaves in the south knowing that they had better information about their life, and were better suited to make one of the following choices regarding his life:
  1. Be a good boy and work like a mule, or
  2. Be flogged to death


Things aren't as simple as you make them seem, by the fact that you are buying an iPod or a Dell, you are indirectly making someone richer over there, someone which might not give a fuck about other people, and that would use the power that money grants him to maintain his position by bribing, violence, etc. (I believe US mining firms used violence against miners, way back in the days)

However, the companies that do business with the likes of Foxconn can make some demands, and by that promote progress of the working class. This doesn't mean there would be a price hit -- not as long the company is willing to do the responsible thing, and take some cut in its profits, or perhaps limit the amount of stock grants to Stevie Jobs.

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986364)

There's plenty of people around the world, and probably in your community that are hurting a lot more than the person who put your Mac mini together. After all, that person has a paying job.

If you are really concerned about the human condition, pull out your checkbook and write a nice fat one to a local charity. They will most certainly appreciate it. And maybe you can sleep better at night.

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986455)

you wouldn't have bought the goddamn ipod due to the higher price if it was manufactured with higher wage.

smug numbskulls like this just get me.

Worker Deaths in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986108)

An interesting print article last week in the Globe And Mail, A major Canadian newspaper, reported that there were an estimated 600,000 to 1 million worker deaths from exhaustion in the year, the article was titled "The graveyard shift". Interestingly the online version doesn't state the number of deaths.

If this number is true, and combining it with industrial accidents, and other work place related deaths and illness (poisoning, repertory illness ect...). One can't help but wonder how long the Chinese Economy is going to keep running without workers to fill the sweat shops.

Combined with the growing dissent that is brewing due to the gap between the relatively few extremely rich and masses of extremely poor. China may have a major shake up in the next decade. And if it does I shutter to think how the economic impact is going to play out in North America, were the model of corporate sustainability and prosperity has been based on a race to the bottom.

Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986135)

...and American?

Before you mod me flamebait please realize that no one here has attempted to define what a "sweatshop" is,
or how these jobs compare to others in the Chinese economy.

I own a company that manufactures in China. We pay well above average, and there is always (and when I say always I mean 24/7)
a line of people at the gate looking for work.

None of this changes the fact that most people on this board would call the factory a sweatshop, because the hours are long,
the pay is low by US Standards and the working conditions are below ours in America.

But we're not talking about the US. We're talking about the entire rest of the world which is poorer than we are.

Yes, we have a moral obligation to provide clean, safe working conditions. But we do not have an obligation to elevate those
we employ abroad to US standards of living. And to wealthy Americans (if you're reading this you are comparitively wealthy)
those standards would seem terrifying.

Right now you are sitting in front of a computer surrounded by the products of cheap (and arguably exploitative) labor. Everything you own. Everything
you've eaten today. Everything you're wearing.

By what amazing gift of self-denial do people here condemn the system which makes them so wealthy?

The difference between American capitalists and those who would condemn them that the latter make weak protestations as they consume with the same gusto.

Flame away kids.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986222)

Your points are not only well taken but hit the nail on the head, I'm not sure why no one has commented back to you.
It's hard to put things in perspective when none of us have been there or seen what life is like elsewhere.

Very well put, you should write for a newspaper somewhere ;-)

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (5, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 8 years ago | (#15986308)

During the 1950's everything was made in the US with labor unions and a strong middle class followed. That was true prosperity and nothing was too far out of the common man's reach besides luxuries items.

To me this proves that the excuse to exploit people is to make more money and is based on greed. THe middle class is suffering while the upper middle class is getting rich and the gap is widening. Gas prices and rent more than doubled in 3 or 4 years yet our salaries have not and more and more factories are closing and heading to China for cheap labor.

Money trickles back with demand side economics.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15988416)

Gas prices, yes. Rent? No way, unless you count that my wife doesn't work, so I'm missing out on the dough I'd have from a roommate.

OTOH, she washes my clothes, cooks, cuts the checks/balances the books, and gives a great BJ when I ask it.

8 years ago, my rent was $600 in the midwest for a 3bedroom by myself, with heat. Moving across country to SF, my rent increased to $1200 a month, WITH a roommate (so $2400), and then no heat (yeah, you'll have a gas bill in SF - it's mostly always cold at some point).

Location is what matters for rent. Nation-state is what matters for gas prices.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (5, Insightful)

LGagnon (762015) | about 8 years ago | (#15986368)

You do understand that there is a fair trade market, right? That not everything you can buy is made thorugh terrible working conditions? Don't get me wrong, I know there are companies out there like American Apperel that claim "Sweatshop Free" yet still don't respect worker's rights (AA is notoriously anti-union, to the point of staging anti-union protests by forcing workers to pose for the media as being anti-union), but the fair trade industry does exist, and many of us relatively rich people do buy from them. Granted, America is slow to adopt ethical purchasing into our currently poor ethical boundaries, but we are making some progress.

And yes, it is hard to introduce worker's rights into an anti-worker environment. However, you don't have to have your shop in China. You could set up shop somewhere else, where the laws allow you to respect the workers. Don't blame the consumer when you haven't even tried everything you can to solve the problem.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15988781)

If you're anti-union, what does that have to do with workers' rights?

Either the workers fulfill their contract, or they can leave. You in turn are free to buy from AA, or take you business elsewhere. Or you could open up competition to both China and AA, but if you pay your workers much more (I assume you mean that by workers' rights), you'll see how it works out.

It's hard to say any environment (ok, unless supported by fascist government, as partly the case in China) is anti-worker, as we are all workers of some kind (the exception being a very few rich asses).

Now hold on there... (2, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#15989323)

Unions cost money. They take money out of worker's paychecks to run the Union infractructure and pay the Union leadership. Like any other organization, the Union's #1 goal is to extend it's existence, including trying to attract as many members as possible.

Is the price of having a union worth it? The answer, like all things, is SOMETIMES! If your working conditions suck, joining a union may be worthwhile. If your working conditions are pretty good, joining a union may just increase the costs of labor to the company without increasing any benefits to you since the increase just ends up in union coffers. That puts the company YOU work for at a disadvantage to another company without a union, ultimately making it more likely your company goes out of business or moves your job to China to avoid going out of business.

Remember, the Union does not care if you need help. It only cares if you are paying membership dues, and will do whatever is necessary to make sure you pay membership dues. That includes offering help, but it also includes the same tricks any other megabusiness uses: Distorted marketing, false promises, etc.

Employers will use the same tactics to discourage unions forming at their companies. There is nothing good about a Union for an employer. Just like the Union is going to tell you you need them whether you actually need them or not, the employer is going to tell you that you don't need a union, whether you need them or not.

Sometimes the Union is right, and sometimes the employer is right. But anyone who says something like "The company is anti-union, so they must be evil!" is either a union shill or a union brainwashing victim. It is quite possible that unionizing is NOT in the best interest of employees. It is quite possible that when a union engages in a media blitz to slandder a company that doesn't want their employees unionized that the workers are actually fine - the Unions problem is just that the union employees arn't paying dues to be fine.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (1)

N1EY (817702) | about 8 years ago | (#15989723)

What is wrong when poor people work in UNION sweatshops in New York City. They work long hours and do not get their pay. The Union blasts "sweatshops" in China; however, the people had a clean working environment in the chinese shops. They were paid better, when you compare their standards of living.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (0, Redundant)

jelton (513109) | about 8 years ago | (#15986369)

hear, hear!

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986678)

"Flame away kids."

With maximum pleasure!!

"Right now you are sitting in front of a computer surrounded by the products of cheap (and arguably exploitative) labor. Everything you own. Everything you've eaten today. Everything you're wearing."

You hear that, Mr. Consumer, IT'S YOUR FAULT, NOT OURS!!!

It's your fault many companies (not yours imparticular, fellow anonymous coward), chase quarterly results, and will do absolutely anything (cheat on accounting, fuck their employees pension plans, hide health problems, pay people in foreign countries wages that amount to less than a pile of shit) to get those numbers.

"Before you mod me flamebait please realize that no one here has attempted to define what a "sweatshop" is,
or how these jobs compare to others in the Chinese economy."

I'll try:
Sweatshop: (n) A working place where the conditions are shitty, the pay is shit, and, unless you want to eat shit, you have no choice but to work there.

"I own a company that manufactures in China. We pay well above average, and there is always (and when I say always I mean 24/7)
a line of people at the gate looking for work."

Hmmm...maybe their there because they want to eat, and have no alternatives? I just want to know, would you want to work in one of your own factories? How would you feel about trading places with one of your workers?

"By what amazing gift of self-denial do people here condemn the system which makes them so wealthy?"

Uhhh...in case you haven't noticed, the people who consume a lot of those goods are getting screwed by the companies that they work for. The middle class is evaporating. Your statement is like saying, "Hey, American people, look I've got slaves that'll make cheap shit for you! (Only you won't see those savings because I'll keep my prices the same and pocket the difference in labor costs) And sure, the quality of the good will go down, and there are no jobs left for you, but this shit costed like a penny per unit to produce!! Wait, why are you mad at me? Don't you see the benefits of my stock price rising? You're in denial!!"

What you call self-denial is also called guilt. It's called the realization that something is wrong. You know, those abolitionists back in the 1800's were in self denial too!!! Geeeez, all those cotton clothes they wore, what HYPOCRITES!!! Why didn't they appreciate what those slaves did for them? Oh, I forgot, they actually had a little thing called empathy.

Re:Gosh Darn! Why can't we all be Middle Class? (2, Insightful)

mstone (8523) | about 8 years ago | (#15988049)

Sweatshop: (n) A working place where the conditions are shitty, the pay is shit, and, unless you want to eat shit, you have no choice but to work there.


Try pulling your head out of your ass long enough to read _The Jungle_ by Upton Sinclair. Then follow it up with _The Bitter Cry of the Children_ by John Spargo, and _How the Other Half Lives_ by Jacob Riis. The defining characteristic of a sweat-shop is its lack of even the most basic health and safety considerations. We're talking 'arms ripped off in machines with no guard rails' and 'dropping over dead from heatstroke' conditions.

Those conditions were normal here in the US a century ago. If you can show me documentation of conditions at the FoxConn factory that are even vaguely like the ones New York garment and factory workers tolerated in the 1900s, then I'll grant you the use of the word 'sweatshop'. If you can't, I'll call you a pompous little jackoff throwing loaded words around to hide the fact that he doesn't have an argument based on actual facts.

The fact is that, regardless of local median wage, the people working at this factory are picking up marketable skills. If they do decide to go look for another job, their time at FoxConn will A) allow them to acquire enough money to move to a different job market, and B) give them a much better chance of finding a job after they leave.

To understand that statement, you have to stop thinking in first-world terms, where we devote significant resources to instilling basic marketable skills into anyone who makes in through 8th grade. In third-world countries, poor people survive by picking recyclable materials out of garbage dumps.. and we're not talking about EPA-regulated American landfills. We're talking about miles of mixed household, medical, and industrial waste, complete with toxic fumes and sludge. 80-90% of waste-pickers are women, and most are the primary source of income for their family. Most have husbands who are alcoholics or drug addicts. Most support themselves, their husbands (and his habits), their children, and one or more extended family members. They have no marketable skills, they gain no marketable skills from picking garbage, and they can't stop picking garbage long enough to acquire marketable skills and still feed their families. To a person in that situation, the prospect of working for a company that provides housing, food, medical and recreational facilities, a climate-controlled non-toxic working environment, and gives them skills that will give them a fighting chance to maintain that standard of living even if they decide to leave the company.. well, that's a definite step up.

It's also a fact that the only documented 'abuse' in this whole story was a FoxConn policy that allowed workers to sign up for more than 60 hours of work per week, rather than capping their overtime at a maximum of 60 hrs/week. That's not "60 hours mandatory," it's, "not stopping people after they've volunteered to put in another 20." And that policy has now been changed, at least in the 15% of the plant that serves Apple. A related fact is that the biggest complaint among workers was that there wasn't enough overtime during the off-peak seasons.

Just sell two versions of the ipod (4, Funny)

mthreat (632318) | about 8 years ago | (#15986347)

Why doesn't Apple just sell two ipods versions -- one made in "sweatshops" and one made by well-paid americans in the bay area.

Folks who don't want to support "sweatshops" can buy the "made in USA" version (for around $900 probably), and others can buy the $300 (sweatshop) version.

And they should make it visually easy to distinguish which version you have just by looking at it (just to keep us all honest).

Re:Just sell two versions of the ipod (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | about 8 years ago | (#15986403)

Hahaha, in the bay area you couldn't find people and a lcoation to make it for $900, not even close. Maybe $3,000... maybe.

Oh, you ment illegals, on yea, $900 for the illegals easy, but then the business owner will mark it up, so you're right back to $3,000.

Re:Just sell two versions of the ipod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986648)

Oh, you ment illegals, on yea, $900 for the illegals easy, but then the business owner will mark it up, so you're right back to $3,000.

So then, it would still turn out to be business as usual at Apple.

Re:Just sell two versions of the ipod (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 8 years ago | (#15986908)

Who said anything about the 'Bay Area'?? The GP referred to the USA.

I live in a 19th century house on five acres of land. I am within a mile of a small town that has one of the better private colleges in this midwestern state. I paid $120K for this property. Life is, uh, pretty good.

I live in the USA. The 'Bay Area' is some freak economic zone that definitely is NOT America.

Re:Just sell two versions of the ipod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15986566)

"Why doesn't Apple just sell two ipods versions -- one made in "sweatshops" and one made by well-paid americans in the bay area."

You forgot a question mark.

Are you ready for some sarcasm? Are you? Are you? Well, here it comes...

Yeah, those sweatshops make everything sooo cheap over here. I mean, during the 80's and 90's, prices just fell through the floor as companies were going over to china!!!!

Alright, enough sarcasm.

You do realize that it is competition that drives down prices, slave labor has NOTHING to do with it.

Re:Just sell two versions of the ipod (2, Interesting)

mp3phish (747341) | about 8 years ago | (#15986667)

Exactly.

One of these days the practice of moving manufacturing to China and other countries will not depend on being big enough to do it efficiently. That is when all these artificial margins these companies (like Apple) are getting will instantly shrink and and guess what? Time to go bankrupt.

Current business models which depend on Chinese (or other offshore) manufacturing to cut costs have no lasting ability. I give them another 3-5 years.

Re:Just sell two versions of the ipod (2, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | about 8 years ago | (#15987435)

"Current business models which depend on Chinese (or other offshore) manufacturing to cut costs have no lasting ability. I give them another 3-5 years."

A generally accurate summation, but I would suggest longer, say as much as ten years.

As I currently live and work as part of the 'current business model' we speak, I too have posed the same problem, and it seems the Chinese at the higher levels are aware of this issue, and are at least attempting to plan for it now.

One method of defense is the practice of having foreign companines create permenant R & D facilities that can remain in use once the factories are shuttered. Another is to gain favor with as many 3rd world countries as possible so that when the time comes to find another LCC, their will at least be some options.

As for what those options are, if the same business model is to live on...North Korea has a decent HR pool, at least in rough terms - and there are only two countries that can ever take advantage. One is China and the other is South Korea.

Actually, I see a combined Asia, along the lines of the EU, coming into place long before ten years has passed and the LCC business model becomes an issue. We can expect micro-factories replacing the mega, such as the 200,000 worker Foxconn facility behind the current iPod flap.

This is a bit bizarre (1)

vague disclaimer (861154) | about 8 years ago | (#15986532)

The UK is one of the favourite places to launch defamation actions, because our laws are so heavily skewed in favour of the claimant.

Claimant's don't even have to prove actual harm, only that a story would *tend* to cause harm in the eyes of right thinking people. That four letter word is what makes the UK's defamation law the most pernicious in the free world.

And there's the rub: I suspect this has more to do with Asian politics than libel.

they get vacation (1)

Mike_ya (911105) | about 8 years ago | (#15989751)

China mandates three "Golden Weeks" for its workers.
But a third of American working women are given no paid leave, and a quarter of men get no pay from their employer if they take a week or more off for rest and recreation.

At least thats what the media is telling me to think this week.
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