Last updated: March 3, 2012 - 5:00am
[Commentary] There’s been quite a bit of controversy swirling lately around iPhones and iPads — not about whether the products are good, or whether Google or Microsoft can beat Apple at its game. The questions, rather, have centered on just where Apple’s products come from and how they’re made.
This week, the ABC News program “Nightline” aired a report from inside factories at Foxconn, one of the largest contractors in China tasked with assembling the technology that Americans (and the rest of the world) can’t get enough of. It’s also the place where a spate of seemingly work-related suicides forced management to install “suicide nets” on buildings to stop workers from jumping to their deaths. While the ABC report didn’t shed a lot of new light on practices at the factory, it did raise some interesting points that most Americans are probably unaware of. For instance, did you know that it takes five days and 325 sets of hands to make a single iPad? Did you know that those hands belong to workers who get paid about $1.78 an hour and work 12-hour days?
The important question is -- what are we doing — as individuals, as governments — to enforce fair treatment around the world? Are Americans willing to pay more for an iPhone if it means fair treatment of workers? Would you be willing to wait longer to get the latest gadget if you knew it was humanely produced? If you didn’t have to worry that the work could drive someone to suicide? This isn’t an Apple problem, it’s an industry problem. More to the point, it’s a human rights problem, one that needs to be dealt with head-on.
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