O.k.,this is the part in which we remember Dr. King and his message of civil rights and social and economic justice, and start to take it world-wide. Or, also, in a sense, closer to home. It has to do with how our desire here in the west, and particularly in the U.S., for the coolest, cleanest, and (relatively) cheap products connects us to the suffering and injustices in the rest of the world, at least from my tendency-to-see-things-as-a-buddhist point of view.
In particular, Shenzhen, China. Where most of this stuff is made.
For this has to do with one self-described “Apple fanboi” and “Worshipper at the Cult of Mac,” like myself, one Mike Daisy, and a show he does from his true story of how he became curious of where these products come from, and what he found when he went to find out.
This has to do with your Apple products, yes. But not just Apple, but Lenovo, Dell, HP, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, and many others.
And not just our computers, smart phones and other electronics, but many other things we depend on every day that are made there: all our appliances, our clothes, our furniture.
I highly recommend you go listen to this episode of This American Life on the web. And listen all the way through, particularly to the fact checking on Mr. Daisy’s story that comes in the afterword.
I warn you, especially for tech gadget & Apple fanboi folks like myself, it’s a hard listen. Maybe not enough to make a luddite out of me, but, I dunno… pretty close. Especially with all the rumors looming now of the coming iPad 3 in March (which, I am certain, Apple PR has some part to generate buzz for its product and stock price), it really makes me question our buying decisions; maybe not enough to warn me off that sexy looking iPad 3, but, well… you listen & tell me what you think.
And isn’t that the message of Dr. King to remember on this day? Social and economic and civil rights justice for all, of all colors, creeds, religions, nationalities and beliefs? Especially those most directly effected by our business and purchasing decisions, both here and where we effect labor and markets across the world. Only instead of cheap, abused labor by people of color in an agrarian economy in the deep south of the U.S. in the 20th century, the reason Dr. King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Confernce, in the 21st century we’ve further hidden the true costs in labor and human suffering by moving it to even cheaper labor and bad conditions overseas.
Taking the fight world-wide, people. Give a listen.
There is no evidence that Mr. Daisy’s story or the broadcast of it on This American Life had anything to do with this, but hot on the heels of this broadcast, Apple released its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, and for the first time, a list of the suppliers it uses world wide. Apple says they are also going to have a third-party organization, Fair Labor Association, check on the working conditions in the factories.
See the update and links at the This American Life Blog here.
So the wheels of justice turn; slowly, for the most part, but still. We’ll see.
Also, from the This American Life blog, Mike Daisy tells what it took to do the story for broadcast, and what hit the cutting room floor.
Oh, and finally, a Disclaimer: my investment portfolio does contain Apple and other tech stock holdings mentioned in this entry, as well as in the This American Life broadcast/podcast; in individual holdings or in mutual funds, ETFs or Spyders.