Who Pays the Price?

The Human Cost of Electronics

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Picture of DetectiveBlack11 achievements
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-13 1. DetectiveBlack commented 9 years ago

Very poor working conditions, that is true.
However, I don't detect anyone being forced against their will to work there.
Picture of mwak48 achievements

+12 2. mwak commented 9 years ago

That was strong, as I traveled in different countries I could see that people in rich countries (like mine) are so concentrated on small problems whereas in poorer countries people with money abuse of poor people.
I think you can see many of those documentaries but it wont describe the horror of what you can see in reality .. seeing children starving, people kick out in the street because of illness. Those things touch you deeply in your soul.
I don't think you can/must stop the system, it's silly, but you can make little moves that will enhance those people life and won't cost you many money or time.
I'm sure that if people could think a little more out of the box, the world could be a better place and not a modern form of slavery.
Thanks to the uploader anyway :)
Picture of darkmas46 achievements

+4 3. darkmas commented 9 years ago

nowadays, computers are more affordable than bicycles, in Europe.
Picture of WildMonkey32 achievements

+4 4. WildMonkey commented 9 years ago

Why do people treat each other like garbage? And not even as a society we stand up against this treatment, we encourage it, with "as long as it is not me" mentality.
Picture of bzzt34 achievements
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-5 5. bzzt commented 9 years ago

Hurray for the free market!
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-1 7. h8isgr8 commented 9 years ago

"Life is nothing but struggle. We work 16 hours a day for pennies at jobs that poison and kill us. Hey, I know what will make things better, why don't we all make more babies that have to live in the same situation. That will fix it!" :S
Picture of DetectiveBlack11 achievements

-2 8. DetectiveBlack commented 9 years ago

It's interesting that my initial comment has been downvoted so much. Perhaps people thought I was making a fickle and uncaring comment. Here's some more detail which might convince you otherwise:

As I pointed out originally, people work in these sweatshops by choice. The alternatives are often much, much worse, combing landfill sites in incredibly dangerous conditions for a daily pittance, or working in street prostitution, or the drugs trade.

Now let's imagine that people everywhere after watching this video, suddenly make the simplistic and knee-jerk decision to boycott all Apple products. What will be the result? The factories will close, people will lose their jobs and be forced back into the very work that they were desperately trying to escape.

Meanwhile Apple would relocate its production to richer countries, with better labour standards and higher wages. The result would be that your iPads and i{Phones would double in price, and the original workers who you care so much about would be cast into the most dreadful working conditions imaginable.

Food for thought?
Picture of go2030 achievements

0 9. go20 commented 9 years ago

TL;DL, seriously though, too long...
Picture of bytebuster27 achievements

+2 10. bytebuster commented 9 years ago

#1,#8 I think you look too black or white. No one is asking to boycott Apple or else, just make them force the producer not to use poisonous materials. A few years ago some Dutch pension funds were investing in companies which were also in the business of making dangerous weapons like cluster munition/bombs. When this was known media reacted strongly and all the pension funds promised that they were not going to invest in such companies anymore. Now they are being controlled on which company they invest. Such could be done by big electronics companies: they could force the producer not to use any poisonous materials. I wouldn't mind if I have to pay 10€/$ more. We should learn to be more social. Almost each time we tip a server. I would see the 10 I pay more something like a tip which would mean more than a tip to the one. No need to move the production to richer countries. And about not being forced to work there: If they would have been informed before about the dangers of this work, then I would agree with you, but I assume that no one has warned them about the dangers of benzene or other chemicals because they know that no one would be willing to work there.
Picture of Thanos34 achievements

+1 11. Thanos commented 9 years ago

(In regard to discussion between #8 and #10, here is my contribution)

If you "force" western companies, especially the well-off companies such as Apple, to raise their costs in the far east, you are likely to approach the threshold of costs which keeps the production in those countries, instead of them developing a far 'better', albeit (one time) expensive, possibly automated, production solution locally. And if they do that, conditions for people in those countries are likely to significantly worsen. (~ #8)

Now, is it sad and soul crushing? Quite so... BUT it indicates that the problem lies elsewhere. One problem is the mind-boggling number of people in China and India - western's low-cost outsourcing choices. Just think how few people (in comparison) live in ANY, or even any combination of up to 4, of the western countries. Yet there is still unemployment, poverty, and homeless present... Imagine what China and India have to deal with.

Plausible solution to that problem is to create additional job opportunities en masse. But to ensure that these opportunities remain, you must ensure they appeal to foreign (or local) companies / investors more than the alternatives. One of the most obvious ways to achieve that is to do exactly what we know and loath about these working conditions: pitiful wage + horrendous working conditions. It is an ugly solution without question, but it is keeping those people from starving on the street...

From our side? Instead of trying to push responsibility on others (Apple, Nokia, etc), we could simply stress donations and display mass interest in the research of 'safer yet cheaper' or 'safer yet same cost' production / assembly processes that, once discovered, could be adopted by these factories.
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0 12. glassweaver commented 9 years ago

#1 #8 - you are right...they do choose to, but if you really think that safety such as a fume hood to wick away solder is going to skyrocket prices, you're naive. Safety doesn't have to cost a lot. It's the fact that it costs anything at all that makes it too inconvenient for most companies. You don't have to physically change your location to have proper safety standards.

If however this really is beyond your comprehension, no, prices still would not double. Most of what we pay is a profit margin, plus costs associated with prefab semiconductors, such as motherboards and the processors. 95+% of this process is automated, and in the case of the most expensive parts (again, such as the processors that usually cost $10-20) those are usually made here - in the US. The 5-10 minutes of manual labor a device takes for assembly is about 25 cents over there. In the US that would be more like 2-5 dollars. God forbid we pay them a living wage.

On a side note, if you're wondering where I got the figures above from, I majored in computer engineering. Those are rough estimates from the knowledge I have from interning at Intel back in the day. If you want an indisputable comparison though, look at the cost of clothing from American Apparel or LL Bean vs American Eagle or Nike. Price differences are negligible, and all of the companies mentioned have healthy quarterly earnings.

In ending though, if you're trying to say that because the alternative is worse, that makes this okay, I can only hope that someday you are blessed with having a severely disabled child, since you can take comfort in knowing that when they become a ward of the state someday, that will be better than the alternative.
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0 13. thundersnow commented 9 years ago

In the US working conditions used to be just like that in the late 1800s, unsafe, long hours, child labor, until the movement for change came from the people, new leaders were elected, politics got involved, presidents were elected that made the changes happening, in favor of the work force, industry was being regulated, conditions became safer, and work hours were limited to 8 hours, the Department of Labor was founded, OSHA was formed in the 70s. I know there is this big anti government sentiment out there, but without the government's regulations, conditions would still be the same. You can't just depend on a hand full of philantropists to help you. In China the government needs to step in and protect the work force with regulations. The big businesses sure won't do it on their own.