This week, abc did an ‘special report’ on the working conditions at Foxconn, a (not solely) Apple manufacturer. First off: I don’t know if HIMYM’s Sandy Rivers is a parody of Bill Weir or the other way around.
I almost had forgotten how bad ‘TV’ is. Yes, this is American TV, but it was more or less of the quality a ‘news report’ on one of our private channels would be. It was fifteen minutes, separated by three commercial breaks. That’s how ‘in depth’ it gets. It was nothing more than Apple handing ABC something ‘exclusive’ and ABC being thankful in return. He actually talked to the chief guy of the Fair Labour Association about how he expected Foxconn to put on a show for visitors like him. ‘Yeah, they do, but we expect that and it’s normal’ was his answer, and that was was it on that topic. Weir repeatedly stressed how Apple and Foxconn encouraged him to talk to anyone on the Foxconn campus - the employees acually complained about the prices for food and the crowded dorm rooms - wow, I’m impressed by this example of investigative journalism.
It was actually quite cute in what an angry voice Bill Weir told the viewers how he repeatedly had asked for Tim Cook to give an interview about working conditions at Foxconn but was turned away. Can you believe it?!
It all makes sense considering the disclaimer at the beginning of the show: abc’s CEO sits on Apple’s board and the Steve Jobs trust is involved somehow, too. So, this ‘report’ was bad, plainly bad. But quite good if understood as PR stunt.
That doesn’t mean I’m rooting against Apple in this stupid and most self-righteous discussion ever. Foxconn also manufactures hardware for Samsung, Nintendo, Nokia and others. Suicides are below Chinese average. Foxconn just raised wages for employees in Shenzen. However, all of that doesn’t make working at Foxconn a piece of cake, of course. But nothing in China is, really.
Whoever lives in a first-world country and points a finger at Apple really doesn’t get it. People should collect everything in their household that’s ‘Made in China’, and then think about the conditions all that stuff was manufactured under. Good thing people blame Apple so they can feel better about themselves. One just has to admit that who’s born in a first world country is very, very lucky. Maybe being in a situation that makes you apply to a Foxconn job offering isn’t that lucky. But relatively speaking, the workers at Shenzen are better off than the folks who applied but didn’t get the job. Really, it’s a global problem, and the situation at Shenzen and Apple’s involvement in it are just symptoms.
Does that mean we shouldn’t do anything? No. But again: Blaming Apple so you can feel better about yourself doesn’t change anything.