Streams

Apple in China

Friday, January 27, 2012

Keith Bradsher, New York Times Hong Kong bureau chief, discusses his investigation (with Charles Duhigg) about why the U.S. lost out to China for the contracts to produce Apple's iPhones--as well as revelations about the working conditions in some Chinese factories where many technology products are produced. 

discusses his investigation (with Charles Duhigg) about why the U.S. lost out to Cleared No
China for the contracts to produce Apple's iPhones.Keith Bradsher, New York Times Hong Kong bureau chief covering Asian business, economic, political and science news, discusses his investigation (with Charles Duhigg) about why the U.S. lost out to China for the contracts to produce Apple's iPhon

Guests:

Keith Bradsher

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Comments [75]

Zuwena from Manhattan

DITTO TO FABIO FROM MONTCLAIR

Jan. 30 2012 09:56 AM
Fabio from Montclair

Brian's teaser ask whether we would be willing to pay more for Apple to behave more humanely.
I disagree with the premises. Apple is making billions, with profits going through the roof. The question is not for us. We already pay enough. The question should be for Apple, why don't they treat their workers humanely first even if that costs a bit of money. They should absorb the cost. They make too much money already as it is.

Jan. 29 2012 09:19 PM
nana from sunset park, brooklyn

on some level this is an "elitist" western discussion. while these conditions are nothing but condonable and deplorable - the alternatives for some of these workers are no less horrific. Prostitution is among the alternatives for some of these female workers.

We should remember that China's blend of capitalism is still nascent - future China may hold a more promising outlook for its employees, and higher prices for those westerners willing to shell out to for it.
however, as a passionate animal lover, we must remember that animals across the US are subjected to ill treatment that would embarrase any "civilized" society and one more thing - Walmart employees are not allowed to unionize here in the USA (this is very recently so, not something in the history books).

I am the owner of an Apple iMac and while the latest stories are very sad, I work in the "real world" - no surprises for me. Folks, this is how the sausage gets made, not just Apple, not just Tech, not just China.
Here in the USA, in Washington DC, and around the globe.

Geographic and economic scope before pitch forks and mobs, please.

Jan. 27 2012 10:48 PM
Bob from NJ

The rare earth elements that people spoke of are also used in the magnets contained in wind turbines now so in vogue and subsidized by the P. Obama admin. It's one of the reasons that wind power is not a viable option. It is much more costly and a polluter as well. It also causes health problems and lowers property values of homes situated nearby. It also raises the cost of our energy bill therefore causing economic hardship on people.

Jan. 27 2012 09:37 PM
Ruth from NYC

The following arguments are specious and horrific:
"It's not just APPLE".
"The job at APPLE is better that what "they' had on the "farm"".
"The United States does not have the proper workforce".

It has been less than 100 years since the WW2, and the slogan "NEVER AGAIN". In spite of the International Declaration of Human Rights - corporations like APPLE and others have been compromising the lives and health of the thousands of almost slave workers employed to create their machines with materials from violent areas of the world (like the Congo - the "Rape Capital of the World"). During WW2 - a lot of "ordinary people" were more concerned with their every day lives than with the innocents who were being murdered and used as slave labor by the Nazi thugs. Have we learned nothing? Can't those billionaire mobsters give up a little of their excessive fortune to create a fairer workplace here in the US and overseas. They are breaking international law.

The multi-lingual and enthusiastic workforce of America can make those phones and all that other garbage that we do not really need. The many veterans of our many wars either have the training and can be trained additionally. And the vets are only part of the educated and TRAINABLE workforce here in the USA.

Jobs was not an engineer. He had a great imagination and was the Barnum of the electronics industry. He fooled his acolytes into thinking that if they would be his APPLE contraption, they would also buy "COOL".
COOL can be dangerous.
It is sad that someone who was so lacking in compassion and real management skills is now being deified and reified. Given the tragedy involving the loss of lives and health of the Chinese workers and the general economic malaise in the USA (that he did NOTHING to assuage) - it is doubtful that history will absolve him.

It is a crushing blow to all of us - that humans, non-human animals, and the environment are being exploited for all of this. NEVER AGAIN?

Jan. 27 2012 06:26 PM
stjohn from Lefferts Gardens

Many people are voicing upset about the piece singling out Apple, but this passage from the article sums up the stance:

'Similar stories could be told about almost any electronics company — and outsourcing has also become common in hundreds of industries, including accounting, legal services, banking, auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

But while Apple is far from alone, it offers a window into why the success of some prominent companies has not translated into large numbers of domestic jobs.'

The articles were about Apple, but anyone listening intelligently knows this is an example of companies at large, of, indeed, capitalism itself. And Brian DID ask about other companies, and promised to follow up by looking at others.

I also don't think it's unfair (however naive) to have hoped for something better from Apple, as opposed to Microsoft, Dell, et al, as they have promoted themselves as the higher road, using 'moral heavy weights' such as Gandhi, Einstein, and Muhammad Ali in their ads.

Actually, I think these ads were a pretty good indication: any company who would conflate Gandhi, the non-violent liberator of millions, with a brand peddling wares, has got to be pretty suspect, in my book. Who, but a dodgy company, would think of using these people for advertising?

The same company who believes in capitalism to the nth degree, as 99% of other large bodies who can afford to practice the most efficient form of capitalism. 'Morals' do not enter into the system, as they have nothing to do with profit.

Jan. 27 2012 03:49 PM
John from NYC

The 2005 documentary titled "Working Man's Death" could have a sequel with regard to this topic. This film is described from one review as "the extremes which workers will go to earn a living.

Jan. 27 2012 03:31 PM
Ex Genius from Long island

I believe you are creating errors in omission by singling out Apple. Crack open a Dell, HP
Etc and you will see Foxconn product, evenn the selfsame technology you use to broadcast, and that makes
you seem hypocritical. Most tech companies outsource components to China. What about sweatshops making apparel by Trump? This is just cherry picking one high profile company over all others.

Jan. 27 2012 01:36 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

When I was in college, my Econ 101 professor, Dr. Dutta, coined what he called 'gross national garbage' [back then gross domestic product(GDP) was called gross national product(GNP)]. Products whose reason for being was that they were made to be thrown away.

Apple is one of the major players using changes in features, form factor, or capacity - far outside of the Moore's Law standard - to push demand for their products and add to the the bottom line. They are not the first and won't be the last. Anybody here remember when Coach leather goods were repaired for FREE for the life of the item. Not anymore bad for sales!

You want better conditions in these factories? Use whatever you own until it is broken, lost or stolen. Stop letting feature creep entice you into the store. And make sure you recycle those items responsibly. We could 'insist' the Chinese ensure their workers' rights and environment but what happens after they say "You don't like it? Don't buy it. Who's twisting your arm?".

Jan. 27 2012 12:20 PM
playaspec from Brooklyn

Keith Bradsher, you have proven yourself to be the *WORST* kind of 'journalist'. By singing out Apple and ignoring Acer, ASUS, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Cisco/Linksys, Dell, EVGA, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, IBM, Lenovo, Logitech, Microsoft, Motorola, Netgear, Nintendo, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Sony-Ericsson, Toshiba and Visio, you do a greater disservice to Foxconn's employees than Apple could ever do alone. ALL these companies are are equally culpable. I expect this sort of sensationalist tripe from Fox News, not the New York Times.

Brian, I have lost *all* respect for you and your show by fostering a highly biased account of electronics manufacturing in China. Where are the hard questions and fact checking? By allowing your guest to scapegoat Apple, you and he allow 97% of Foxconn's other clients to get a free pass to continue the same abuses.

So many commenters here are willing to leave Apple for another brand. All the warm and fuzzy without actually achieving a thing. I guess ignorance really is bliss. My plan for socially responsible consumption is to never pledge to WNYC again, and instead give my eyes, ears, and dollars to those with the journalistic integrity to be skeptical of their guests claims, and courageous enough to insist that ALL the players responsible are indicted equally.

This segment was the epitome of "Fair and Balanced™".

Jan. 27 2012 12:16 PM
Apple potential buyer! from New York

Get your voice heard! Rally up in front of the apple store 5th ave!

on the other hand, every electronics corp is doing just about the same thing apple is doing. What are we left to do? Not buy the best quality!

Please someone come out with a new company that makes computers and smartphones here in america. Even if I have to pay double the price of an iphone I will buy from you. Is there anyone? Is there anyone? Is there anyone?

Jan. 27 2012 12:02 PM
ulla zwicker from NYC

what are people thinking? all this consumerism is only possible because of exploitation, shady politics and total disregard of human rights, environmental and other long term consequences - this ignorance of work conditions, economics and politics is as scary as a factory in China or any other so-called 3rd world production facility ...

I have tried for years now to buy with more awareness about where and how things are made, but it is almost impossible to not buy anything made in China ... but I am determined and I try to voice my decisions, even if it's just in a store to a store clerk to explain why I am not buying an item made in China ...

but it does make me very weary to what extent even educated people keep their eyes closed - the ignorance, self-centeredness and, yes, stupidity is too depressing at times ...

Jan. 27 2012 11:59 AM
Mark

Hey, wait a minute! Aren't the Chinese just doing jobs "Americans don't want"? I mean that's what you always say when some Mexican dude works 12 hour shifts in a restaurant for five bucks an hour. You say, hey no American would take the job. Well, working long hours in an tech factory for these wages is apparently a job Americans don't want. The hypocrisy is amazing. If Apple opened a factory in Texas and hired a bunch of Mexicans in the exact same conditions you would be doing a story about how "noble" it is. Spare me. This is just sour grapes that China got all the jobs, the West start capitalist globalization, don't cry now. Deal with it.

Jan. 27 2012 11:58 AM
John A.

I will not be singling out Apple for this problem.
I will be turning over more itens to inspect their labels.
I have been getting long lifetimes (computer: 7 years, cellphone: 5 years) out of items once I buy them rather than using (read: Wasting) 2 or three times that many items in the same time period.

Jan. 27 2012 11:54 AM
John from NYC

Michael Moore directed a film on the topic of keeping jobs in America called "The Big One" back in the late 90's. He was able to have a conversation with the CEO of Nike at the time - Phil Knight on the topic of bringing manufacturing back to the United States. This film is worth watching just for that conversation.

Jan. 27 2012 11:52 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) does eco-ratings of phones, as well as many other products.

Jan. 27 2012 11:47 AM
Marc from Brooklyn

Instead of asking if there's such a thing as an "ethical" phone, why not ask if a phone is needed at all?

Watch the 99% meltdown over that one.

Jan. 27 2012 11:47 AM
sheila from new york

I called apple customer service and told them that i've owned apple since their mac plus and i own apple stock(very little). i told them that it is important to me that they address this foxcon issue in an ethical way. although I would classify myself as part of the squeezed middle class, i would be willing to pay more for my iphone and ipad if apple would also give a little on their markup. it's only fair.
sheila

Jan. 27 2012 11:46 AM
Moshe Feder from Flushing, NY

Let's acknowledge that Apple is being singled out for something all western companies using Chinese plants need to address. That being said, as an Apple stockholder and a Mac user since 1986, I want Apple to uphold a higher standard.

Apple needs to do more, much more. Given their record profits and immense cash reserves, they can well afford any extra costs that would result from doing the right thing. Whether or not Google has always managed it, "Don't be evil." is a good idea and Apple should borrow and implement it with the same thoroughness and brilliance they borrowed the GUI and mouse from Xerox PARC. "Not invented here" should not apply to high ethical standards and practices.

Apple stockholders and customers need to make sure the company knows how we feel. They showed in the past that they're not insensitive to public opinion after they were embarrassed by the reports of environmentalists about their practices in that area. The result has been significant improvements and greater transparency. I believe, and hope, that the same thing can happen in the area of labor standards.

Jan. 27 2012 11:44 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

One thing that DIGITAL DOPE FIENDS can do is stop engaging in digital excess, like buying the latest version of every gadget with non-essential "upgrades".

And if a more "ethical" phone doesn't currently exist, there's certainly a market for one now.

Jan. 27 2012 11:43 AM
Gloria McLean from NYC

There is a failure of principled leadership on the American capitalist side for decades. It's hard to compare the apples and oranges of the two systems, Chinese Communism vs. American democratic-capitalist system. Chinese workers choose the harsh conditions coming from a totally different mindset, and for a short time not for a career. We solved some of the factory abuse problems in the U.S. until it got too expensive and the leaders bailed out. Why was there so little foresight on the part of the industrialists? No long term consideration of the American community. (Duh, it's the money, stupid....) At least we have the opportunity to lead in NEW industries now in America. I hope those who are able to lead (that is, improve the infrastructure for new industries) will do so.

Jan. 27 2012 11:43 AM
Elsie from Brooklyn

It's interesting to see all of the good liberals here talking about how Apple is no worse than anyone else; basically this is just a lot of people justifying why they can keep their iphones and still call themselves ethical - or part of the 99%. This is precisely why the Left in America has lost so much respect - ultimately, their beliefs follow whatever is most convenient for their lifestyle. And if that means people in China become crippled making their iphones, ipads and imacs, then so be it. When push comes to shove, the Left here is much more interested in being trendy and hip than being ethical.

Jan. 27 2012 11:42 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Sounds like a race to the bottom to me...

How well do Apple products sell in China? Are the FoxConn workers that build them earning enough to buy them? I doubt it. Or is there a price differential?

Enacting NAFTA, MFN, and other trade agreements without a firm mechanisms to
balance environmental concerns and workers' rights is just exporting slavery.

Jan. 27 2012 11:42 AM
Dr Sherlock Litter from BROOKLYN

wake up and smell the coffee. If you want opportunity and jobs for americans as most pc liberals profess, buy great usa autos from USA AUTOMAKERS, not foreign autos assembled here.join TEAM USA. Afterall aint most of us sport team fans? do you root for other counties in the olympics? DO YOU SUPPORT DECENT LABOR UNION WAGES OR NON UNION FOREIGN ATUO COMPANIES? SEE YOU TUBE SEARCH DR SHERLOCK LITTER FOR THE PATH AHEAD TO RESURGENCE OF USA MANUFACTURING..

Jan. 27 2012 11:41 AM

Something naive going on here, as other commenters have pointed out...

...this has relatively little to do with Apple. America's biggest companies built China's first infrastructure (with the help of the World Bank) in order to take advantage of the cheap labor, small fingers and lack of environmental and labor rules. Look at Halliburton (which build factories), GM, WalMart, Price Waterhouse Coopers/Deloitte/KPMG (sold outsourcing), etc. for inventing this model, as well as the US Government for politically guaranteeing fuel to remain cheap enough to sustain it (as well as guaranteeing insurance and loans via EXIM and OPIC).

One thing is clear: For better and for worse, this is a very specific business model invented within a mile of WNYC's offices just a few decades ago.

Jan. 27 2012 11:41 AM
Mia from Manhattan

BUT IT'S NOT JUST APPLE.
This is a great article and Mike Daisey has a great piece on This American Life that should be listened to, but we shouldn't forget that this isn't just Apple. This is true of the other tech companies, and not just tech companies. All the stuff we have here in the US that is manufactured in China: toys, clothes, housewares, etc. These type of manufacturing/labor practices are not much different in other plants. I think we should think about that too.

Jan. 27 2012 11:41 AM
Robert from NYC

Because, Brian, that's the wrong question to ask. The correct question to ask it would you rather be doing this crappy paying new job you have or, OR would you rather receive the proper compensation for this job that you have than the compensation you're getting. OK? Got it?

Jan. 27 2012 11:40 AM
The Truth from Becky

The reason, not pretty but true is obvious why the Chinese factories were chosen.

Jan. 27 2012 11:39 AM
Ciro in Garfield

Would you call it unpoetic justice that FoxConn is building a totally automated assembly line, that will put all that slave labor out of work?

Jan. 27 2012 11:38 AM
DMV from NYC

We worked so hard to secure labor rights in this country. We should hope that employers who will further fair labor will open factories, not dream of Shenzhen-style servitude.

Jan. 27 2012 11:38 AM
cfinkle from New York

The problem is that Apple forces the Chinese manufacturers to accept such slim profit margins that they cut corners at the expense of workers and the environment. Meanwhile, Apple's profit on iPhones is around 30%.

Jan. 27 2012 11:36 AM
Robert from NYC

Well putting it that way there are blood T-shirts out there and shoes and jeans, and pots and pans and eyeglasses frames with designer names on them and toys and [fill in the blank]. The Giant's jersey you paid what $40/$50 for was made in China for $.03 cents or less? Maybe I picked a bad example but you get my gist here.

Jan. 27 2012 11:36 AM
Joe from Englewood, NJ

Having over 100,000 young adults sitting on backless benches doesn't sound that bad.

We threw over 100,000 into Iraq under much worse conditions.

Jan. 27 2012 11:35 AM
trish from Madison, NJ

Steve Jobs was a jerk. Have you read the biography? He treated his peers and co-workers poorly. He was a genius, a mastermind when it comes to marketing his products but his character is nothing to revere about.

Jan. 27 2012 11:35 AM

I won't buy an Apple product again, and I feel betrayed that the company abused its workers so horribly.

What I want to know is, what should I buy instead? Is there any company that makes computers without using slave labor?

Jan. 27 2012 11:33 AM
Robert from NYC

I'm more interested to find out if maybe now that he's dead Apple might offer a sale on their products now and then! I'm thinking about my bottom line which keep dropping.

Jan. 27 2012 11:33 AM
Doug from New York

You mean if I bought a Samsung, Asus, Dell or Lenovo product that's made in China in the same kind of factories, that the conditions that could be worse because the NYTimes decided to honed on to Apple(because it is a nice fat target)...that I would feel less guilty? You want to talk about bias reporting?

Jan. 27 2012 11:32 AM
Tim from Tappan NY

So, Apple is the only one doing this this? I guess the biggest company gets the biggest target on their back. I'm sure the Android workers work 8 hours with a living wage and benefits. I'll keep my iPhone, thank you.

Jan. 27 2012 11:32 AM
Dorothy from Jersey City Heights

I stopped purchasing from China after watching the documentary "Chine Blue". I also stopped purchasing meat from factory farms after I watched the undercover videos from Mercy for Animals. We have placed convenience and price above mercy and the respect for life in both of these situations. The question you have to ask yourself is "How much suffering am I willing to contribute to in order get cheap products."

Jan. 27 2012 11:32 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Credo Mobile offers some phones it lists as "eco-friendly." It doesn't say anything about working conditions, but I would expect Underwriters Labs certification as "sustainable" & reduction in use of toxic materials at least decreases the workers' health risks some.

Jan. 27 2012 11:31 AM
Laura from Brooklyn, New York

I'm curious about when Apple began moving its manufacturing operations to China. Were early Apple products made here in the United States? Did policies in this country prompt Apple's move to China?

Jan. 27 2012 11:31 AM
Bonnie Brady Wyman from Manhattan

It is quite simple, I am turning in my iphone and not purchasing the ipad.

Jan. 27 2012 11:30 AM
John A.

What nan beer from yonkers said is really on it.
There are 10s of millions of illegals doing work right here in the US devoid of most protections. Heck I worked some 7 day weeks in my youth for no added pay (85 hours worked, 40 paid) But back to the subject, how did America become great? By being the Shenzen(sp) of 1880+

Jan. 27 2012 11:30 AM
Arthur from Astoria, NY

I don't see why you can't have operational efficiency (interconnected supply chains, high-yield assembly line manufacturing) AND decent working conditions and environmental controls. There's plenty of work to do here; let the jobs stay there but be better paid with good conditions. If you did that I bet Apple would have to charge $2.00 more per iPad, if that.

And it IS the brand's responsibility, not the actual contractor's. Apple and other U.S. brands have the weight to specify working conditions. If Apple or Dell or Asus or HP said "I want your workers paid well or I'm taking my business elsewhere," you'd better believe that those conditions would improve.

Jan. 27 2012 11:30 AM
Joel from Nyack, NY

Another part of the problem mentioned in yesterday's NYT article is what I see as the greed of Apple. They are squeezing their suppliers for the last penny or yuan of profit. This then puts pressure on their suppliers and they are less apt to improve working conditions. Also reported in yesterday's Times was Apple's earnings. They are sitting on over $90 billion. Couldn't they take a little less and give a little more to the workers in China? This is from a dedicated Apple user, 4 Apple products in my home.

Jan. 27 2012 11:30 AM
Fran from NJ

The United States Government has the power to say what can be sold in US and what can not. If a toy does not pass the safety inspections it's not allowed to be sold in the Country. Why not have similar regulations about work safety? These work conditions are not acceptable in the US, therefore products build with those unsafe conditions shouldn't be allowed to enter the country

Jan. 27 2012 11:29 AM
Robert from NYC

Bravo man, you hit the nail on the head about Jobs. I never held such admiration for him as most do.

Jan. 27 2012 11:29 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I wonder if the 19th century sugar boycotts by modest housewives in Britain to protest slavery can even happen in our present amoral consumer culture.

Jan. 27 2012 11:28 AM
Marc from Brooklyn

Isn't it odd -- perhaps telling even -- that Mr Lehrer mentioned governments and corporations as possible guilty parties for the poor working conditions in China, but not Apple's customers. It wasn't until a couple of listeners expressed a measure of personal guilt for the Apple "addiction" did the topic even come up. I guess if one holds the "right" kinds of political sentiments, then one can be absolved of personal responsibility for one's choices, and that responsibility can be shifted on to another party, instead. The art of "doublethink" gets more interesting every day.

Jan. 27 2012 11:27 AM
kikakiki

China is the USA in the 20's and 30's when there were company towns, when people worked 6/7 days a week, 10/12 hours a day, no sick days, no holidays, no pensions and low wages. This is what we are being asked to return to but wait, as the Chinese become consumers and ask for better working conditions industries will have to look for the next land of patsies.

Jan. 27 2012 11:27 AM
Benjamin Gross from NYC

I'll never look at my Apple products the same way again.

Jan. 27 2012 11:27 AM
Damon from Manhattan

How do the apparent abuses in Apple's manufacturing process differ from those of other major mobile phone manufacturers? If you wished to boycott Apple by buying a comparable product, wouldn't you be faced with similar abuses by Apple's competitors?

Jan. 27 2012 11:27 AM
John from Inwood

What's the alternative? Is there a manufacturer of consumer electronics these days that doesn't engage in deplorable employment practices?

Jan. 27 2012 11:26 AM
r from manhattan

The US used to have a system very much like the chinese system: it was called slavery.

Jan. 27 2012 11:26 AM

The other attractive thing about China is that Chinese are willing to breathe filthy, untreated air polluted by all the products that we purchase.

China's tolerance for pollution was the magic answer to the existential question American Industry was faced with beginning in the 1960s.

Jan. 27 2012 11:24 AM
ian from greenpoint

How much would the Iphone cost if it was made in the states? This would be interesting, so we could know the cost of our luxury, and the price of china's laborers lack of well being.

Jan. 27 2012 11:23 AM
April from Long Island, NY

PBS showed a documentary, Last Train Home, last year which focused directly on today's show topic on the level of the migrant worker's experience. Very sad, authentic and gripping film!

http://www.pbs.org/pov/lasttrainhome/

Jan. 27 2012 11:23 AM
Robert from NYC

I'm sure we all empathize but do you think for one minute that iphone users will throw their phones in the river over this? Do you think for one minute they will stop buying these products? Not a bit, not a damn bit. They want their iphones and i-products and screw anything else. The only way to stop this IS to stop buying and boycott the products. The withdrawal will be hard and maybe long but it will be effective in the end.

Jan. 27 2012 11:23 AM
Ana from NJ

The conditions in those factories remind me of stories I heard from my grandmother's cousin. She lived in banana plantations in Central America back in the 40's and the workers lived in company housing, ate in company cafeterias, bought their groceries from company stores. The money they were paid was spent almost entirely in company businesses.

Jan. 27 2012 11:22 AM

Apple products without China (and the amazing infrastructure that America's most famous brands have built there over the past 20 years) would not exist. To make an iPad here, the living wage would increase the product price tenfold.

Does anybody remember the original Iridium Sat Phone from the middle 90s, made in America? $10k. Today's Iridium Sat Phone, manufactured in China by Motorola, is a fraction of that.

Jan. 27 2012 11:21 AM
nan beer from yonkers

we did have workers in dormitories, really substandard factory conditions, dust explosions, etc. it was called the industrial revolution. i guess it was too hard to bring it back, so companies can just enjoy all its "advantages" in china. and maybe if things get bad enough for workers over here it will be possible to have this kind of massive exploitation once again in the u.s.

Jan. 27 2012 11:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Or maybe US labor laws wouldn't allow workers to be woken up at midnight to work 12 hours on tea & biscuits (coffee & rolls here?). But in today's economic situation, there may be more US workers who'd be willing to do it.

Jan. 27 2012 11:20 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

No unions ??? OMG!
Gee, then why are Obama, Krugman and Tom Friedman so gaga over the Chinese manufacturing success?

(Thank you, Producers)

Jan. 27 2012 11:18 AM
Robert from NYC

What's this about Steve Jobs saying and saying that, he's dead man! Please he's gone forget him. When did the president speak to him, in his prayers?

Jan. 27 2012 11:17 AM
Bill from New Rochelle

Mr. Bradsher is not saying it; but he makes a very strong case for high import tariffs on manufactured goods.

We hear how this will hurt 'working Americans' but I've never seen an adequate true evaluation of this assertion.'

I can't help but think that at this point, our domestic manufacturing will be helped far more that hurt by an import tariff on manufactured goods.

Jan. 27 2012 11:16 AM
Robert from NTC

What arrogance! Not a word about American workers. More concern about the Chinese economy? lol sadly

Jan. 27 2012 11:14 AM
Tim from Nyack, NY

Where is the same outrage for workers in this country? Coal mines, migrant farmers, poultry processing plants... this week long crusade against Apple is getting to be a bit much. Yes something needs to be done, but I'll bet Apple does something about it, while manufacturers in this country done.

Jan. 27 2012 11:07 AM
Brian Lehrer Producer

Martin, the conversation will cover both what Apple can teach us about manufacturing and jobs; and conditions at Apple's plant in China. We changed the title to reflect that.

Jan. 27 2012 10:52 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

This article is definitely a "must read" for everyone. We are all complicit in this problem -because too many of us never, ever even pay attention to where products we purchase are made, and will often choose cheaper goods over higher priced goods - even if they are made in the USA.
If we care about "jobs in the US," we should all start making it a point to seek out goods made in the US, and support those companies with our dollars.

That said - the attitude of some of the Apple execs in regards to productivity in China versus the US was both hilarious but damning - they are impressed and amazed by the efficiency and productivity of Chinese workers.....who work 12 hour days, 6 days a week, and live on the same property where they work. One exec said some thing to the effect: "that could never happen in the US," so they therefore can't make Apple products in the US.

All of these companies don't want to address the elephant in the room - which is the fact that they were conceived in a nation that fought for and achieved labor laws and the notion of "quality of life," yet exploit workers in countries with no labor laws, and governments that are complicit in this exploitation.

Jan. 27 2012 10:52 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

NOTE: The topic of this segment (and its title as well) has changed since early this morning when I submitted my firstpost....it was then focused on why American business can no longer compete with China in making devices like the iPhone. The iPhone NYT article addresses that subject.

It now appears that the producers have morphed it into a feel-good "let's attack Apple" human rights issue segment. What predictable nonsense. Grow up. This is exactly why the first issue is true and getting worse.

Jan. 27 2012 10:45 AM

What happens if America/Chinese trade relationships deteriorate? Which industries have America (and its allies) permanently lost? What about the Department of Defense, what directly and indirectly relies on Chinese companies?
Consumers share the blame, not only with Apple products, but every time we go to a store and focus solely on the price on the package. That price is heavily subsidized by so many factors, many of which even educated consumers cannot decipher.
It's a gordian knot.

Jan. 27 2012 10:34 AM
playaspec from Brooklyn

ENOUGH smearing Apple! It's Foxconn who is the problem. Apple is only one of 16+ US manufacturers who contract wit Foxconn. Where is the outrage over Acer, ASUS, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Cisco/Linksys, Dell, EVGA, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, IBM, Lenovo, Logitech, Microsoft, Motorola, Netgear, Nintendo, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Sony-Ericsson, Toshiba and Visio?

Every owner of the Wii, XBOX, PS3, Kindle, Nook, wifi router, laptop computer, desktop computer, TV, or other electronic device manufactured by one of the above mention companies is *just* as guilty as any Apple owner.

If anything, Apple is the ONLY company working to improve conditions at Foxconn. See: http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/

Blaming Apple for Foxconn's misdeeds, makes Apple the scapegoat and let's Foxconn's abuses continue. Equal pressure must be applied to *every* manufacturer or nothing will change.

Jan. 27 2012 10:30 AM
John A.

Jake N,
The NPR "This American Life" special on this (full hour,07-Jan-2012) said iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Dell laptops were made there also, and likely some lesser known brands. The special also said that China's average suicide rate was greater for people outside the plant than inside.
Still, more reasons to return attention to American manufacturing.

Jan. 27 2012 10:27 AM
Jake N. from NYC/BKLYN

The article made me glad that I own an Android tablet, not that ASUS may have any better manufacturing processes. But, who knows? One thing that I am curious about is this: What about the iPod Touch, that is basically a tiny iPad? Are those made under the same horrible conditions?

Jan. 27 2012 10:03 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

It was a wonderful article!!!!
A must read dose of realism for elite “progressives” and a rare NYT piece of objectivity.
We are now politically incapable of competing with Asia under the Obama “fairness” doctrine.

Nothing in the article better epitomized the hopelessness of our competitive situation than this clueless, almost surreal statement in the article by a recent Administration hack-
{“Companies once felt an obligation to support American workers, even when it wasn’t the best financial choice,” said Betsey Stevenson, the chief economist at the Labor Department until last September. “That’s disappeared. Profits and efficiency have trumped generosity.”}

Generosity!! !!???? This is a woman who has never actually held a job in commerce beyond the Wharton campus quadrangle. “Efficiency” is now an evil concept??!! We’re toast.
Even an Obama stalwart like Jared Bernstein admitted in the article that …… {“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.}

Gee, let’s see, what NYC is planning to do here to encourage more jobs and business.......oh, yes, a mandatory living wage bill!! Betsey should be quite thrilled with the generosity.

LOL, you can’t make this stuff up.

Jan. 27 2012 05:57 AM

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