Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Head Like a Hole

In today's NYTimes, Friedman goes all "Bad News Bear" on U.S. job prospects. He buttresses his argument with an approving quote from Sunday's Times Magazine on the superiority of the MadeInChina:
Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly-line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the [Chinese] plant near midnight. A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day. ‘The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,’ the executive said. ‘There’s no American plant that can match that.’
As a commenter points out, The Guardian also has a new piece on the MadeInChina. It kicks off this way:
The man's hand is twisted into a claw, crushed, he says by a metal press at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, where Apple's luxury electronics are assembled. He is looking at an iPad – he has never seen one switched on. His mangled hand strokes the screen, bringing it to life.

Back at the factory, where the buildings are swathed in nets after 12 workers committed suicides in a single year, a young girl emerges from the gates. Her job is to clean the iPhone screens before they are packaged. She says she is 13.
And here's another bit from a recent NY Times article on Apple's Chinese labor:
Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

“If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,” said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. “But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.”
“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li, who is suing Foxconn over his dismissal, helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred.

“Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests,” he said.
Bottom line is one thing; perspective is everything. Puts me in mind of one of Reznor's Nine Inch Nails songs – as a lot of things do of late:
God money's not looking for the cure.
God money's not concerned about the sick among the pure.
God money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
God money's not one to choose.
You know who you are.

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