Friday, May 21, 2010
The Cost of Our Shiny Gadgets
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 01:00 PM
"It's obvious, by now -- or it should be -- that something's going on at Foxconn -- the owners of massive factories in China which most famously assembles Apple products (though it's also responsible for many, many others). There have been several suicide attempts this year -- at least a few of them successful (though it's been pointed out that the number is pretty much on par with the rest of China) -- and over the past few days we've seen what can only be called a shocking expose by a worker who went undercover there."
Engadget's Laura June shares her thoughts on the real cost of the gadgets we know and love - because this Foxconn issue isn't just about Apple; they make products for HP and other big OEMs. I share June's thoughts that I'm not an economist; I know enough about wages to know that they need to be appropriate for the country the workers are in...you can't just take a North American minimum wage figure and use that. On the other hand, I support the concept of a "living wage" no matter what country we're talking about - if someone can't make a reasonable living working 40 hours a week, then they're not getting paid enough (and that applies to my own country as well).
I'd be a hypocrite if I said that the plight of the workers making my gadgets was at the forefront of my mind when I opened the package on a new device, but it's definitely something I've been thinking about more lately. Do I like cheap gadgets? Yes. But would I be willing to pay 10% more, knowing that money would make its way back to the workers in the form of better pay (which would be hard to do, but possible)? Yes, I absolutely would. Would you?