For the open-minded, non-topical internet user...

Monday, 14 April 2014

Outsourcing is King

Last night I watched a video that just became viral and was featured on most social networks. “Who pays the price?” is a video that uncovers the ugly truth behind electronics manufacturing and the impact it has on the ones who do the actual work.

Uncovers is not really true in the sense that it's a new discovery, it simply reminds the issue and stacks the facts against the well know apple corporation.

When I looked for the producer of the video I found an American non-profit organization, which aims to develop green economy and sustainable technology, so the world will be free of problems... Fat chance...

Anyway, I was directed to a digital petition to the head of Apple, Inc. – Tim Cook. Infuriated by the video, I was a click away from sending the pre-written message, when I glanced to see what I was actually sending.

I wont copy the whole letter, but the core of it was me being heartbroken by the inhumane conditions in which Chinese factory employees work and demanding from Mr. Cook to take off the dangerous chemicals they're exposed to and provide healthcare for every already ill person working in the entire supplier chain of Apple's production.
I instantly felt stupid by my rash actions and emptied out the information fields.

So, why feel stupid? It's a horrible thing that they do and people suffer... Why not act ?

Well, to end this needlessly long introduction, would you tell the person holding a knife over a stabbed victim to drop it and take care of the wound ?
Telling the Apple CEO that his suppliers are void of moral and treat their employees as slaves would be as pointless as it gets.

He contracted them for that exact reason.. Suffering is cheap, inhumane is cheap and cheap is good for business.
You get faster and cheaper production, but sell for the same price. You pile your riches and go get some ...(well you know how it goes)
If Apple conducted manufacturing on it's own territory – America, it'd never become that technology giant it is today.

Compared to the American laws for production and manufacturing, along with the labour laws and regulations, the lands of the rising sun are next to anarchistic.

Have you wondered what it is to manage a billion people under your jurisdiction and find jobs for them all ? How to educate them and make them specialists in something ? Well, you don't.

You grab yourself a hundred children from the lowest layer of society, show them how to perform a single action (e.g. Cleaning computer chips) and you put them in a concrete box with a few production lines. BAM! – you've got yourself a running factory. Your costs are symbolic, as these children have neither the will, nor the strength or knowledge to question their working conditions.
Rather, most are grateful your provide basic food and shelter for them, as their alternative is taking their chances on the street. They don't mind the toxic products they bath in everyday at work, the fumes and gasses, the lack of light and fresh air.
And you will never update the technology or switch to safer materials, because that means you get less money. Who wants to get less money than they do already ?
Nobody will come and question your methods, because the government is so corrupt and challenged, a regular bribe will tie all loose ends and shut all mouths up.

Times passes and those little children find themselves betrayed. They realise their lives are ruined, already 20 – 25 with no knowledge at all, no profession. The only thing they can do is clean computer chips and that is it. The have no idea how it works, or what it does.
They know this place is slowly killing them, if their not dead already to terminal illnesses. They know it far too well, but there is nowhere for them to go and nobody who will hire them, except the other factory around the corner. So, they just go back in the production line, no questions asked, no issues raised.
Your factory is running well, production is blasting and you sell the results to some big company for laughable price and promises to come back. And since your prices are so hilarious, they will and you're set with you're set with your career. No problem.

On the other side of the handshake we see a man stepping out of a car worth as much as all the workers lives. A man with gargantuan plans for huge scale production and sales. A man who wants to sell 35 million copies of his design in a hundred days.
This man comes from a country where he has to spend another 4.2 billion dollars, if he wanted to manufacture his products there. The country itself will want to claim 35% of his total profit, just because he makes them within the borders.

He can simply dump his toxic sludge in the pond next to the factory, because the next minute there will be somebody knocking on his door, demanding repercussions with the means to enforce them if he has to.
You see western production is different, it's more expensive. The people working there have rights and the knowledge and strength to defend the. There are even organizations and syndicates to help them receive proper employment and safe working environment.

Even if he had the ability to carry out his doings, he'd still be the bad guy right ? He'd be you - the one ruining the environment, destroying lives and killing the planet.
So, if he wants to win the game that he's playing, he can't rely on those methods, he needs to come to you. That's why only 130 of his suppliers are located in Europe and North America, while the remaining 624 are located in Eastern Asia. Half of those are in China - three hundred and thirty factories like yours.
And that's the reason he stands before you with his grand plans. He very well knows what happens in those grey walls you call a factory. He's not a stupid man, rather brilliant – a great engineer and inventor. But, he also knows how to world works and if he wants success, he must close his eyes to this and that. He knows you will do what you have to to deliver the promised results and nobody will ask questions of how you did it.
They will simply bathe in their success and boast their slogans in the entire world's face.

Every now and then the press gets a huge scoop like this video and blasts their hypocrisy on the shoulders of the man who sold them their computers. They demand changes, improvements, audits - everything they get in their work. So the man waves them off like annoying flies and issues a few million in "audits" and "improvements" just to shut you up and relieve himself of their ignorant blabbing.
The world thinks it's made a change for the good and sleeps comfortably, while the same people get whip lashed (almost) back to work. This time even harder for being the focus of an economy scandal, which made their boss lose money.

So consumers like me can't really hate players like you and him. Much because we will never go to the extreme of rejecting the technology you bring us.
I will never leave my laptop, my TV, my phone... No.. I will keep using them and even buy new ones.
I'm as disgusting as you are. I may not force this harsh labour on anyone, but by buying the products you make, I support it with full force. I'm as big a reason for the Beijing smog and the Guiyu e-wasteland as you and he are.

Manufacturers, designers, assemblers, consumers, reprocessors... we're all gears in the same machine that cycles over and over. I can't blame anyone for causing damage, because that same damage brings me benefits, which I can never deny of using.

The suffering of those people brings me comfort I can never cut apart from my life. I don't even want to. I don't want to sacrifice my happiness and my well being for the cause of saving somebody. And as much as you're lying to yourselves, you don't want to as well.