I found the “Mr. Daisey and Apple” podcast fascinating, but also disheartening. Mike Daisey has a fantastic sense of humor that made this hour podcast pass very quickly and added some lightness to the sensitive topics that he discussed. It seems to me as though he unveiled quite a few secrets that Americans and other people around the globe would be shocked to hear about, and that was my exact reaction. I don’t know much about journalism, but I feel like the best way to get an interview from someone or get information is not to just show up at a large factory, let alone in China, essentially begging for information. He tried to contact people through other methods, but said he got shut down trying those ways. So he decided it was time to do it his way, and he proved me wrong. His way seemed to be incredibly successful because it seems as though every worker coming out of that Foxconn factory had a story to tell. What really got to me was the 13 year old female worker who’s job it is to clean the iPhone screens as they go by her on the conveyer belt. When I was 13, I was in 7th grade worrying about pre-algebra and middle school dances, and the thought of a job was unimaginable. The possibility of workers this age, and even younger, having to report to a factory to work anywhere between 12 and 16 hour days seems so far away to me, but the sad fact is that this is a reality for these young workers. This young woman tells Daisey how Foxconn always knows when an outside company, the companies that actually care about the ages of workers, is going to come to inspect, so they simply pull the younger workers out of work for the day. This seems outrageous to me. Daisey even implies that Apple probably knows about the young ages of their workers seeing as they are a company with a compulsive need for information. I would like to think that they did not know, but it is hard to imagine that being possible.
One thing that really struck me about Daisey’s podcast is that he kept using the word “crap” instead of listing out consumer products that we now take for granted. As I thought about this more and more, I realized that he is right. Most of the stuff we own now can definitely be called “crap.” We think technology is so important to our lives and that we cannot survive without it, but no one ever thinks about the hundreds of thousands of people that put our “crap” together all the way over in Shenzhen, China. I think Daisey using the word “crap” to describe the products whose factories he went to see really strengthened his argument. It made me think more about what superficial effect this “crap” has on our lives, and I am sure I am not the only one that he made think.
I found the part of the podcast where Daisey interviews the people in the “real union” about their experiences. One man that stood out to me was the one whose hand was crushed during work at Foxconn. It is hard for me to imagine him not receiving any medical attention, or compensation, for his injury. Not only did he essentially lose his right hand, but he lost his job too because he was fired for being too slow. I am guessing that this is not an uncommon event for the large factories in China, which makes it even more disturbing. It seems as though even when these hard working people do try to fight for their rights, they essentially just lose their jobs for even trying. It is heartbreaking. If any of this information came out about a large company in America, it would make headlines in seconds and cause a public outrage. It just seems as though this is the norm for these factory workers in Shenzhen.
The only thing that slightly salvaged my view of Apple was towards the end of the podcast, when Glass talks about the measures they have been taking to monitor and improve working conditions. It seems as though Apple audits some of its suppliers every year, and if working standards are not up to their code of conduct, they work with them to improve the standards. If the supplier is not willing to work with Apple, the company will just stop buying from them. The only choice consumers really have is to believe Apple when they say that poor working conditions are being looked into because we have no other option of what to believe. Nicholas Kristof brings the idea to the podcast that while the conditions of sweatshops are not great and can definitely not be defended, they have actually raised living conditions and allowed more people to have jobs in what used to be rural areas. While I guess this fact can make me feel slightly better about using my MacBook to write this blog post and reaching for my iPhone next to me to check my email, it is hard to look at these gadgets the same way after hearing all of this information. I cannot help to think about how many workers it took to put together my Apple devices, let alone everything else that I own.