Secrets, Secrets are No Fun: Mr. Daisy and Apple

It was quite interesting to hear Mr. Daisey speak about his experiences in China and the people he talked to. I was particularly interested in how he and Kathy go undercover to investigate other factories. By this time, I have heard about issues at Foxconn and the suicides that resulted in building nets. However, Daisey’s retelling of the information he uncovered is non the less moving and reveals greater details about the working environment.

It was shocking that a corporation could be so caught up in saving a buck that they would put people at risk. As the closing song suggests, it could easily be an example of “out of sight, out of mind,” but that can’t be a justifiable approach. I was interested in the idea that some scholars felt that this kind of labor was actually good for the community in that it supplied a middle class and other economic benefits. It seems as while this is the case, companies like Apple and Dell should be able to demand more appropriate working environments AND enforce them. It seems as though it would be worthwhile to have corporate positions in Apple, Dell, and other relevant companies that are responsible for maintaining an ethical work environment through very public reports. But it is possible that this plan could only exist in an idealistic world. All the same, there needs to be ways to address this kind of situation in ways that hold corporations more accountable for the way that their employees abroad are treated.

However, I began to think more about their method of investigation. It’s clear that the working conditions at factories like Foxconn are not suitable and using chemicals such as n-hexane are harmful to workers. I would argue that sharing information about things like harsh pay and the “black list” is important, and identifies clearly unethical business practices, but were Daisey’s tactics unethical? He assumes the identity of a businessman to gain access to factories and seems to imply that he is a journalist. Is deception what it takes to learn the truth? What does that mean for corporations and our relationship with business?

5 thoughts on “Secrets, Secrets are No Fun: Mr. Daisy and Apple”

  1. You mention that corporations need to be held more accountable and be more transparent with their reports on these factories. I thought your idea of having corporate positions in these tech companies to maintain ethical working conditions was an interesting idea, but you then say, this may only be possible in an idealistic world. Do you think if companies added these corporate positions that it would change anything? Or would these positions just lead to more public deception on a larger scale? I feel like the only way the public could see actual, reliable reports is if they were issued by some regulatory third party.


    1. I was a little conflicted when deciding if having a corporate position in these tech companies was a reasonable solution. I think it could be a good idea because then the company has no excuse for saying it didn’t know these practices were happening. However, I was concerned that this solution still wasn’t making this kind of information public, which would make corruption a possibility, which I think is similar to the concerns you’ve expressed. I really like your idea for a regulatory third party and I had not considered that option at the time. Do you imagine these regulations being enforced by the United States or an international organization?


  2. I think you touch up on a great point here regarding the method Mike Daisey uses in order to learn about the working conditions within the sweatshops in China. Even though he criticizes the whole secrecy of the corporations regarding their operations in China, he lies to all the executives of the companies he is paying a visit in order to get inside information and to expose the poor working conditions. Isn’t this the form of secrecy he is already criticizing? He is doing what he is doing for a good cause and to raise awareness, and it is extremely hard to get any information out of the corporations since they keep refusing any interview requests, but isn’t there an ethical alternative to his method of gaining information?


  3. I also agree that the question of ethics in this scenario is a good one. However, instead of feeling cheated by Mike’s tactics, I was much more alerted by the need to use them. While companies certainly take drastic measures to avoid being seen publicly in a bad light, shouldn’t we be alarmed that the only way to learn about how one of the most popular products on the planet is made is by lying? Don’t we all have a right to know where and how our products come to be? Shouldn’t we at least care enough to ask?


    1. I think you make a great point here, Luke. Corporations should be more upfront with how their products are manufactured. Companies that are more transparent in how their products are constructed should theoretically be more appealing to consumers. However, if a company makes a fantastic product, like an iPhone, and doesn’t disclose how it is built, would you be willing to buy an inferior product produced by a company with sound business practices?


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