Although sweatshops are something people know about and consider wrong or immoral in their own heads, people seem to do nothing about this truth that continues to rear it’s ugly head. At the end of the podcast, the song that was playing had lyrics that fittingly said, “out of sight out of mind”. Although we use Apple devices every day and in the back of our minds, we know in general where these products come from and how they are made, we prefer not to be bothered by the thought that these products that compose such a large part of our lives are tainted. Considering the new liberal society we reside in, people should be more offended by apple products. The way I see it, the only reason this issue is not at the forefront of our society is because it isn’t affecting us directly. Our tech products are still working and out lives have gone unchanged. The only way we would care is if the workers miraculously went on strike and were able to stop the creation of these products. Sadly, this probably can’t come true because simply being in a union is a crime worthy of prison time.
So what does this all mean? To me it boils down to the balancing act between economic improvement vs. moral improvement. Economically speaking, these factories have been beneficial to China because many of these workers were taken out of terrible poverty ridden conditions in a rice paddy, and now make more hourly wages in the factory. Essentially, they went from terrible to still terrible but not quite as bad. The moral argument is a bit more complicated. These huge corporations have had make working conditions better and more favorable for the workers at home over the years and ended up having to send jobs overseas to obtain cheaper labor. The catch was, they didn’t send the labor protection laws with them. One could argue that the world should be progressing and sweatshops shouldn’t need to be a necessary evil anymore because we know better now. At the end of the day, low labor costs seem to win the day and so far the moral argument has taken a back seat.
According to Mike Daisey, this can all still work for the corporations if they grant their laborers some more basic rights. He argues that they could spend time keeping workers on a safe rotation with normal hours and compensation for overtime. On paper this idea seems viable because the wages would still be extremely low but the companies would have to sacrifice only a little of their power. It seems though, that this is a systematic problem that is difficult to solve. Given China’s reputation for secrecy and corruption it’s hard to believe we know the whole story. Although I want to believe Mike Daisey that basic worker rights improvements could be viable, I’m not sure I have enough faith in the corporations that clearly have a double standard for their employees at home and abroad. These companies continue to put up with hundreds of injuries and deaths every year. If anything close to this happened in the U.S. there would be an absolute outrage. This double standard is what proves to me that people are willing to look away and pretend that what’s happen isn’t that bad.