It is sleek, shiny, new and will be outdated tomorrow. Its industry is riddled with corruption, deception and greed. Of course, I am talking about the always updating gadgets.
To get our new obsessions, no expense can be spared. Technology is a fast-paced industry whipping out new products weekly and draining the wallets of consumers around the world.
However, the people affected most by this industry are the laborers — I am not talking about the genius at your local Apple store. These are the unnamed and unknown laborers in China, working long hours almost every day of the week.
Call it wrong, I call it necessary. Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, said to The New York Times, “what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.”
In the U.S., labor violations like this would mean the termination of the managerial staff’s employment, but in the Third World there is a surplus of workers and not nearly enough jobs. For these workers, harsh working conditions are a fact of the matter.
Calling these practices wrong is simply being ignorant of their working culture. I consider it wrong that many Chinese families eat dog as a meal, but I am not about to interfere and tell them they must stop.
The explosion that sparked up the debate about the rights and wrongs of using cheap labor to build our electronics occurred in a relatively new Foxconn factory in Chengdu, China. This explosion killed two and injured an estimated 15 people. The official reason for the explosion is unknown but the common belief, according to Supply Chain Digital, was combustible aluminum dust. This is not a result of bad working practices. It is a cleanliness issue that could happen in the safest of factories. You hear about factory and work-related accidents all the time. It is a risk you take when working in these dangerous occupations.
Recent articles have made these factories out to be horrible living situations. However, these living situations are provided to the workers so they can live on the work sites. In a modern day situation, this appears wrong. But think back a ways.
My example is my home town Bellevue. A little section of Bellevue known as Coal Creek or Newcastle is built on land that contains vast amounts of coal. According to an article on ActiveRain.com, Newcastle’s history dates back to the 1870s when it was a coal mining community. Old coal mining towns and communities like Newcastle were built around the same premise as the town of Chengdu, China where your fancy iPads are manufactured in mass quantities by Foxconn. The companies build these towns to cut cost. Financially, the companies make money off of these towns because they supply housing and employment with minimal pay. The pay they do give out generally ends up being spent at stores owned by the company. It may not be ethical but it is undoubtedly smart business.
Apple, along with many other major corporations, view these towns as gold mines. They pay a corporation like Foxconn minimal money, compared to what they would have to pay a manufacturing company in the U.S. Foxconn turns around and rapidly produces millions of products for Apple. Their methods may not be civil but they are effective.
I cannot tell you what is morally right because your morals are your decisions. I can, however, tell you I have no doubt that these inhumane practices will continue because they are a necessary tool in our modern day society.