Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ruining the world - one ipod shuffle at a time...

OK - so I thought I was doing a good thing by buying the (RED) version of the ipod shuffle. But now I'm not so sure that buying an ipod (or anything else from apple is so good at all).

This all started when I got an email saying that my shuffle was packaged and on it's way to me via FedEx - so I plugged in the tracking number at and found that my package had left Suzhou, China and was now in Shanghai, China. - Well being married to a 'Union-man' that tries to buy ONLY made in america items when he has the option (which I agree with don't get me wrong...he does go a little overboard sometimes even ordering his blue jeans online to make sure they were made in the united states).

I googled ipod and Suzhou and Shanghai and this is what I found. I found MANY articles like the one from Wired stating that the 'ipod city' as it is called in China only pays their workers anywhere from $50-$100 a month and they must live in the dormatories pictured above and work in sweatshop like conditions. They aren't allowed to have visitors or even many personal belongings and are forced to work 15 hour days.

So now I'm feeling pretty crappy about supporting such a practice. Although, I then stumbled across another little piece of information on the internet (looks like it's from someone's blog) at that basically says that the economy in China now is like that of America in the Great Depression and that people are paid less but that the cost of living is much less. What was even more interesting was a comment to this post written by "KC" a Chinese-American who seemed to have no problem with the way the ipods are made - he states that these types of companies in China give people a chance to make more money in a month than their family can make in a year through farming. He states that there are opportunities for moving up to supervisory positions as well...he says it is just a different world and different environment than in the united states today and people do what they need to do to make a living. He also states that a lot of individuals will work in these types of places, then pool their money and start their own business and factories.

So, I don't know what to think. I think it's rotten that people have to live in conditions that I believe are substandard...but then again I may be living in conditions that other people would think are substandard. I don't know...I know however that there are basic human civil rights that should be upheld everywhere - but, if these rights are being upheld - then who are we to say that another country's practices are wrong as long as the basic rights are upheld and people are entering these working environments through their own free will?

I don't's hard to say how I really feel because I'm not really sure. I wish everyone in America and everyone in the world could experience life the way it is supposed to be and I wish everyone could experience being cared for by their loved ones, friends and their employers. I wish, but I know that is not reality and I know that people have to make hard choices in life about everything. Who knows...if I lived in China and my family members were farmers (or unemployed) and worked hard but still could not make a living - and if I had a chance to go to work in 'ipod city' and send money home to them during these depression like times...I probably would be glad that the option to do that was there. So then, looking at it that way, I feel like a jerk sitting over here in America in my nice house with my nice job criticizing what may be a great opportunity to someone on the opposite side of the world.

I'd be interested to know what anyone else thinks.


A. Brososky said...

I would say that you are supporting a developing country (not some form of Nazi Germany)... They *DO NOT* force (like a concentration camp) people to work in these places, nor do they employ children.

If you look at where *anything* is made, including those things "made in the US", the majority of the components are made in shops like those you pictured. Even if you buy a car "made in the US" it is really only assembled in the US from foreign parts.

Next time you eat a piece of fresh fruit, check to see where it was harvested. Then look at the conditions the harvesters live in on the internet. Or better yet, look at the coffee you drink and then Google the living conditions of the poor Columbian children who have to harvest it.

I would say stop feeling bad for buying your IPod and start feeling lucky that you live in a place that allowed you to easily (relative to China, where you can't even get into a secondary school unless you are in the top 15% of your elementary school) get a college education and make something of yourself.

Moral of the story: Don't boycott foreign goods. Buy *Made In America* goods when you can, be proud of your country. And enjoy the fact that you are in a position that you can own an IPod.

Grandma Julia said...

I hope you go on and stick by what you believe. An act of injustice no matter how much you color it is still an injustice. I should know. I have been there.