American Wallflowers


            Unsure, that’s the only word I can really think of to describe how I am feeling right now.  Listening to Mike Daisey comically recount the inhuman behavior that routinely takes place at the Foxconn factories in China horrified me.  I mean, people are literally killing themselves just so that they don’t have to work there any longer, that is absolutely shocking.  Ask yourself what would happen if this happened here in America?  Well, first of all it wouldn’t happen here because we have laws and labor unions protecting worker rights, but in any case, hypothetically, if it were to occur here the American public would be outraged.  The scandal and backlash that it would cause would be immense…so why do we not have the same reaction when we hear that American companies are encouraging such behavior by doing business with these organizations?  Sure, it was mentioned that Apple is trying to clean up their act, but in a culture where laborers barely have any rights do they really think much is really going to change?  Sorry if that is a cynical view of the situation, but the truth of the matter is that Apple still does business with Foxconn, despite all the terrible things they have been caught doing.

            But, the truth of the matter is do they really have a choice?  In a world where most manufactured goods are made overseas, for barely any cost to the company financially, companies have been forced to look the other way when it comes to how their products are manufactured in order to protect their own company’s survival.  These workers are being paid roughly $360 (link attached, NYT) a week for their work and are working twice as long, if not more, than the average American.  Can you imagine trying to survive on $360 a week and working 70-80 hours a week?  That, along with working my butt off doing the same monotonous task over and over again with no possible end in sight, I would probably want to throw myself off a building too.  So here we are stuck in one of the largest conundrums facing a rapidly globalizing economy.  What are our options?  Do we do what would be ethically right and boycott companies that allow their goods to be manufactured in sweatshops? (which keep in mind is a huge amount of the manufactured goods we rely on)  Or do we look the other way?  Out of sight, out of mind?  There has to be a better compromise than what is going on right now, its inhumane.  But then again how much can we do about the way other countries conduct business within their own boarders? Something has to give, and hopefully this will be the start of some real change, I guess that’s all we can really hope for right now until these countries decide to really take a stand against this conduct. 

 

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/the-ieconomy-how-much-do-foxconn-workers-make/

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One thought on “American Wallflowers

  1. I agree with how you presented this conundrum of a scandal. I especially like that you mentioned the idea of sovereignty, and how the direct source of the problem at hand is going on in a different country than our own. There is only so much that can be done from within our own borders, it seems. During the industrial revolution, our working conditions weren’t stupendous, yet we as a people worked to change that. Unfortunately it seems that the Chinese government is not looking to protect its people but rather intimidate them (using a black list) into submission, scary. When will the public pressure in China become too much.

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