February 8, 2012

Apple and Foxconn

While in my younger days I was a student of Economics, and all that interested me was economic efficiency, as that would surely increase Justice and Equality in the long run, now I am not so sure that efficiency in the be all and end all of all things economic.
Apple has gotten a lot of fire recently for the conditions of its workers, especially in the Foxconn factory in China. I think that if one consumes any product, it is certainly a legitimate interest how the workers making this product feel, how many hours they work in a day etc.
I also think that China is probably very happy to have the Foxconn factory, and that overall Chinese people including the majority of the workers in the factory are happy working in it. I hold these opinions after reading some articles about these issues, but your mileage may vary.
Furthermore, for some reason Apple is being criticized for the working conditions in Foxconn, and yet other US tech companies are not. I find this very weird.
So far I think that This American Life have managed to show the most complex and interesting picture of this story.
Having said all that, I think that the picture painted by the Steven Jobs Biography, of Steve Jobs as a 1960's hippie is plain ridiculous if he had known half of what we know about Foxconn, and if he didn't know, he had no excuse for not knowing.