I wish I could say that this podcast really opened my eyes, but the unfortunate truth is that I was aware of much of this information before tuning in. Sure, Mike painted a more colorful picture, but I think many of us (meaning American users of these sweat shop products) already know about the long hours, cramped quarters, repetitive motions, and even suicide nets. So why is it so easy for us to look the other way? Why is it so easy for us to just see what we want to see?
I do not really have an answer to these questions. Even trying to rationalize it makes me disappointed in not only myself but everyone else like me who hears these gruesome stories and is ready to completely denounce the use of products from companies like Apple, but somehow find themselves putting their iPhones back in their pockets and moving on with their days.
Maybe it has something to do with the distance. These horrible working condition stories are happening halfway around the world. It is easy to put these images in the back of our minds when we are in our local Verizon stores excitedly picking out which new iPhone we want because our 2-year upgrade is finally due. Maybe we don’t have a choice. We almost have to have a functioning smart phone in order to keep up in present day America, right? Are the other companies doing things much better? We almost have to assume that Samsung and HTC are doing the same thing. And plus, that is a lot of independent research for us to formulize the entire supply chain of every major tech company. We’re busy; let someone else handle that. When everyone else decides to change, that’s when we will too.
Does this rationalization sound familiar? If a stranger came up to you and said, “I will give you a brand new iPhone for $1.00. The only catch is that a few Chinese workers will suffer over the labor required to make it for you.” Most of us would immediately decline the offer as it puts other human beings through direct suffering and pain. So why is it that we not only pay $1.00 but several hundreds of dollars for new accessories at the expense of not only a few workers but a few hundred thousand? How can we still be so eager to buy our next iPhone when we know the true cost?