Jan 23 2012

The Dark Side of Apple…and Steve Jobs.

Published by at 2:31 pm under Chinese Commie Bastards,Greedy Bastards

This weekend the New York Times ran an article about Apple and its production of I-phones overseas. Bottom Line Up Front? Steve Jobs could also be a real s**t when it came to his fellow countrymen:

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke,President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

 

As an American-I am insulted by Mr. Jobs logic. Because if you read on in the article you will find that it would appear that the main reason Apple cannot bring the jobs home is because most American workers would refuse to be treated as slaves-and that somehow there is something wrong with that mindset. 

 

An eight-hour drive from that glass factory is a complex, known informally as Foxconn City, where the iPhone is assembled. To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts.

That’s because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States.

The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. “The scale is unimaginable,” he said.

Foxconn employs nearly 300 guards to direct foot traffic so workers are not crushed in doorway bottlenecks. The facility’s central kitchen cooks an average of three tons of pork and 13 tons of rice a day. While factories are spotless, the air inside nearby teahouses is hazy with the smoke and stench of cigarettes.

Foxconn Technology has dozens of facilities in Asia and Eastern Europe, and in Mexico and Brazil, and it assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics for customers like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Sony.

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

 

Well, yea-you could not get Americans to put up with that. But ask yourself why they should have to? What Jobs was in fact saying was that, treating people decently and providing a living wage, needed to come second to his impatient deadlines and the need to clear a gazillon dollars in profit. Foxconn has a documented history of trouble and treating its workers like shit.  The point of the article is that Apple just couldn’t get that done in the US, and if you read the muted Times’ description of Foxconn, or, better yet, listen to those who have told of visiting Chinese factories, it’s easy to understand why. Those workers live in dorms which house 13-15 people in bunks in 12 by 12 rooms. They officially work 12 hour days, but often work for up to 16 hours a day, for a little more than Chinese minimum wage (about $1.30/hour if my math is right). Turnover at the plants is estimated at 10-20% per month. 

What disgusts me the most is that instead of castigating Apple for being an enabler to such inhumanity-there is a whole horde of people who agree with Jobs that it was somehow all right because the ends justified the means. That;s more than just a little wrong-its a criminal mindset. That there are a lot of Americans who agree with this point of view is more than a little disturbing.

Its not true-Americans can and will produce when properly motivated to do so. That they will not allow themselves to be mindlessly taken advantage of is not a flaw-its a feature. The only thing that distiniguishes the United States is its unwillingness to throw a 1/3 of its population under the bus-the way the stinking Chinese have.

And that there are people who think that is the example we should seek to emulate-is another sign the country is losing its mind. I'll say it again-American workers will produce. But they have a right to be fairly compensated for the effort-and they expect to have their private lives and time respected.

And that's the way its supposed to be. Not the other way around.

That's real capitalism and real democracy. Too bad our Galtian overlords have not grasped that. And shame on the Times for  not calling it what it is.

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38 responses so far

38 Responses to “The Dark Side of Apple…and Steve Jobs.”

  1. JRandomon 23 Jan 2012 at 4:38 pm

    There was a good program about Apple and the factories in Shenzhen on "This American Life" a few weeks ago: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/454/mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory
    Current factory conditions in China aren't too different from those in the US a hundred years ago.  Part of it can be explained by the standard of living in China – as bad as conditions are in the factory, it beats subsistence farming in the countryside.  But I wonder how long the people of China will put up with it.

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  2. Kevinon 23 Jan 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Apple is the most visible user of Foxconn, but your Dell, HP, or *insert brand here* was probably built there too.

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  3. E@Lon 24 Jan 2012 at 1:23 am

    True attitude for almost all of the companies in the world, big and small.

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  4. E@Lon 24 Jan 2012 at 11:00 pm

    note with not a little bit of cynicism that Apple’s profits for the last quarter were up 118%. As Carl Sagan would say, “Billions and billions…”

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  5. Cy-Kickon 25 Jan 2012 at 7:57 am

    Skippy, you forgot to add the footnote at the bottom of your submission, " sent from my I-pad!"

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  6. bullnavon 25 Jan 2012 at 10:25 am

    Everyone who would bash the UAW should take a close look at how the Chinese treat their workers.  Oh, and don't forget that the government owns 50% of those companies.  I  love what my iPhone can do.  I love that I got it for cheap.  I hate that people are being worked into the ground for nothing so I can buy it for a low price.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Vucaon 25 Jan 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Have you worked in the manufacturing sector in the U S? Have you tried to hire workers in the U.S? When you have, let me know how it went.

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  8. Curtison 25 Jan 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Vuca makes a most excellent point!

    Look at the UAW losers at GM planning to strike at the GM plants making the number two product at government motors and that's the one that the UAW has decided to strike in order to settle 'local' differences. Skippy the problem with you will be that there all of those who studied Econ 101 and understand it and Socialists and communists who continue to insist that ECON is unimportant.
    Since exactly when was that ever so? What Utopia leads you and those like you think it was ever so? Maybe when it was the UAW took over Detroit decision making? Maybe when all the steel workers in the US decided that union management knew best how to compete in a global market?

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  9. Skippy-sanon 26 Jan 2012 at 12:10 am

    Vuca-I have had to hire and lay off people.  Laying people off sucks-especially when you know it is a result of Armed Services malfesance. 

    What is your point exactly,  that America has stupid people? Noted.  Exactly how does that justify using labor in China that is treated like shit?

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  10. Cy-Kickon 26 Jan 2012 at 7:55 am

    US Trade Policy as practiced by American elected and appointed officials since the 1970’'s is at the core of this. The US and Europe dropped their trade barriers, China kept their trade barriers up and pegged their currency to the US dollar to maintain their labor cost advantage.

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  11. bullnavon 26 Jan 2012 at 11:14 am

    The UAW did not take over Detroit decision making.  The UAW made demands, and the leadership of the US auto companies decided to give them what they wanted rather than fight it.  Look at the '90s with the record profits made in the auto industry.  This last round of negotiations was exactly that: negotiations.  I am not convinced that prior to the 2007 contract (and subsequent modifications during the bankruptcy proceedings) that any negotiating happened at all.  For the most part, times were good so the UAW got what they wanted with little resistance from the auto companies.  Not so in 2011.  There was no "pattern" bargaining, and each contract required an extension to complete the process.  As it should be.  I believe that the UAW serves a purpose in not allowing the companies to treat the workers as less than human, as I would argue happens in China.  I have seen non-union plants here in the US, and I can tell you they are dirtier and appear to be not as well run.  I don't agree with what the UAW leadership always does (especially when they get on their communist bent) but I do think the union serves an essential purpose in providing better wages and working conditions for the workers.

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  12. Curtison 26 Jan 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Bullnav,
    I know I take a somewhat belligerent tone with Skippy-san. Told him long ago to ban me. After a wee discussion I don't do it with his guests here. Much.
    For all that. You don't see that the UAW gutted Detroit? You fail to notice that the US just doesn't make much steel anymore and the Steelworkers Union is as dead as the dodo as the union continued to drive the business into bankruptcy just as the UAW did with GM et al?
    Do you ever wonder why the jobs shifted south out of Detroit? Are those guys in the south exploited and being ground under the heel of the nasty shareholders (most of GM's of which got shorn with nothing to show for it despite the existing laws on bankruptcy?
    The aviation unions that took Boeing to the NLRB for their plans to build a new plant in right to work Southeast and demanded that the board strip Boeing of the right to decide where to build plants EVEN IN THE UNITED STATES.
    If the unionistas feel a grievance about sending jobs to China then how about they send their union thugs, oops, I mean organizers, to China and have them get about it just like the turn of the 19th Century. You know, put some skin in the game. Buying the NLRB with recess appointments is kind of shameless.
    The US% of unionized non public employees is something under 6% now isn't it? Kind of hard to sell the Union thing on top of the tax all profits as windfall and then watch companies like Apple with over a hundred billion $ of asset capital lying around but not accepting that, yes, because of Apple's offshore policies and tax law that that leaves something like $85 billion as offshore profit that they won't return to the US in the face of confiscatory taxes. So, ill begets ill. They'll continue to create jobs overseas with that money and continue to pay dividends. Again, it is basic economics. It's not fuzzy social science or feel goodism, it's what making money on that scale requires. And, if you don't believe that any company should make money on that scale then you won't miss it when they do and refuse to share it with you.

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  13. Richardon 26 Jan 2012 at 4:47 pm

    and Buffalo school teachers get "free" plastic surgery. The school district said to the union we can lay off 100 teachers or you can keep your free plastic surgery. Guess what they chose? You gotta look good to seduce those 14 year old BOYS eh…
     

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  14. bullnavon 27 Jan 2012 at 10:37 am

    Curtis,
    After spending the last 12 years working up here, it has become clear to me that it was more than the union that led Detroit down the path to where it is now.  The city of Detroit is a story unto itself with the corruption and nepotism that have destroyed it.  As far as the unions and the auto companies, I will reiterate my point:  management never fought any of the demands the UAW made when it came to contract negotiation time.  Poor product decisions and the old mantra of "they will buy anything we make" were also a big player in it.  But who really gave a shit when the companies were pulling in billions in profits in the '90s?  You cannot lay the blame solely on the UAW for Detroit's demise.  We have a different set of players now, and I believe the resurgence is based on a variety of reasons including the UAW realizing that they need to be team players and that corporate management realizes that they need to really negotiate with the union and not simply sign off on a list of demands.  There is also the realization that quality matters, and that poor customer satisfaction will directly determine how many cars and trucks you sell.
    I don't disagree with profits and making a return on my investment on the stocks I hold.  I certainly appreciate pay raises and performance bonuses.  But what is happening in China is beyond words.  No one in this country would agree to work in those conditions, at those hours, for that little pay.  We would be shutting down the plant and arresting the management.  That  being said, it is still appalling here in Michigan how some workers are treated, especially at non-union plants.  I see it all the time.  I still believe that the unions (at least in the  auto industry; I see no place for government employee unions–isn't the government supposed to police themselves?) provide a set of checks and balances against sheer exploitation of the workers such as it appears is happening in China.
    Obviously, there is a balance, and we have not found it yet.  On the other hand, in China there is no balance at all, and the workforce there is exploited to the extreme.  I would say we are closer to it here in the US than they are…

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  15. Curtison 28 Jan 2012 at 11:18 pm

    bullnav,
    We lived for three years at 20 mile road North, SANGB. I'm not just taking shots. Detroit was once home. Year after year after year the citizens of Detroit voted for frogs. That is what they got. A sitting Congressman's wife in jail for her crooked service on the Detroit City council. I know exactly and precisely what drove the city of Detroit down. Institutionalized corruption and mismanagement. But, I'll reiterate, what drove business away was that and the UAW. I would no more set up a factory in there than I would sell my daughter into slavery.
    It does have the most amazing airport though. Awesome.

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