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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Are you a Slave Trader for buying Apple?

Do you have any moral obligation to ignore goods or services produced through labor practices that offend you?

Some say Apple is responsible for enriching themselves at the expense of Chinese slaves, some of them children.

The other side of the coin says that Chinese are lined up to work in those factories - their standard of living is better than the average Chinese, so it is a good thing...it is developing China to the First World.

Children in India begin working at a very young age, real work. Many work instead of school.

It's that, or starve.

We Americans have a lot of comfort from which to decide the moral Rights and Wrongs of the world. Free trade is good - it is pure Capitalism. Pure Capitalism is bad, it takes advantage of the weakest.

While we think of such things and condemn the Chinese father who would ever permit his daughter to work at such a factory, many of us do so while typing on an IMac, IPad or listening to an IPod.

Denninger says we do have a moral obligation to help stop such abuses. His solution is to tax everything coming from China. That makes sense from a practical perspective, if not a moral one - the profits from our Chinese made goods are buying Chinese made AK's for Chinese bred lads...

But, is there a moral obligation to choose not to financially support a product or service made with slave labor...

Here's Denninger's piece.



  1. Yeah, brilliant one, Denninger.

    Who the hell does he think will soak up the cost of that tax?

    This country is supporting China's military with the interest we owe them on our debt.

    Denninger is sometimes a big, huge disappointment. I've stopped reading him for the most part.

    I am morally obligated to care for my family, then friends, then community.

    If I am morally obligated to do anything about China, well, I guess I can start by refusing to pay taxes. But that would prevent me from fulfilling my #1 duty. Can't provide for the family from prison.

    Without that "slave labor", most of those people would be worse off.

    People do not understand opportunity cost, competitive advantages, and comparative advantages.

    People may buy as they choose, but it is morally wrong to presume to prevent me from buying as I choose.


  2. Question from a friend-

    If buying Chinese goods means you approve of, condone, and support the Chinese government, as-is, then does buying American mean you approve of, condone, and support the American government, as-is?

    Ain't that a conundrum?!

    Therefore, since you approve, wholesale, of the actions of the American government, I assume that means you'll be voting Obama in 2012?

    Furthermore, since by buying American, you approve of all of the actions of every part of that product's supply chain, from manufacturing to consumer, are you not also approving of those entities' practices, which assuredly include buying from China?

    Buying a product from Wal-Mart, John Deere (partly owned by the Japanese), IBM, America, or China does not imply approval of all those entities' actions.

    It is an economic decision that implies approval of the value the product adds to one's life.


  3. 50-60 + years ago we were the people doing that (labor wise) to our own. Think sewing factories,and coal mines,just to name a few. The conditions in those places were deplorable. I doubt anyone outside our borders knew of those places.

    I agree there are some serious moral issues dealing with such things today. Always has been. Want that Socom 16? Made in Ill,big anti gun state, just one example in our modern times. Do we send our money there?

    I believe we'll see it come back around to us,not in our time,but it will come back.

    Good post and topic!


  4. AP is right on. Additionally, most of our offshore business loss is due to taxation and regulation in this country, but some of it - as Apple discovered when it tried to find an American manufacturer for the glass it needed for its devices - is due to the fact that China, actually moving _toward_ free market capitalism (no, it isn't even close yet, but it is doing better than ever before) is actually outdoing America and Europe in the production of some commodities. Ask anyone that knows anything about steel, and they will tell you better quality steel is available from China than from America. Apple couldn't find an American producer able to make the glass they needed, where as China had already built a factory and had samples ready for Apple to test.

    "In part, Asia was attractive because the semiskilled workers there were cheaper. But that wasn't driving Apple. For technology companies, the cost of labor is minimal compared with the expense of buying parts and managing supply chains that bring together components and services from hundreds of companies.

    For Cook, the focus on Asia "came down to two things," said one former high-ranking Apple executive. Factories in Asia "can scale up and down faster" and "Asian supply chains have surpassed what's in the U.S." The result is that, "We can't compete at this point," the executive said.

    The impact of such advantages became obvious after Jobs demanded glass screens in 2007.

    For years, cellphone makers had avoided using glass because it required precision in cutting and grinding that was extremely difficult to achieve. Apple had selected a U.S. company, Corning, to manufacture large panes of strengthened glass. But figuring out how to cut those panes into millions of iPhone screens required finding an empty cutting plant, hundreds of pieces of glass to use in experiments and an army of midlevel engineers. It would cost a fortune simply to prepare.

    A bid for the work arrived from a Chinese factory.

    When an Apple team visited, the Chinese plant's owners were already building a new wing. "This is in case you give us the contract," the manager said, according to a former Apple executive. The Chinese government had agreed to underwrite costs for numerous industries, and those subsidies had trickled down to the glass-cutting factory.

    It had a warehouse filled with glass samples available to Apple, for free. The owners made engineers available at almost no cost. They had built on-site dormitories so employees would be available 24 hours a day.

    The Chinese plant got the job." http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017301072.html

    Fortunately, that isn't true about everything, as there are still many companies in this country which produce better quality products or services than can be procured elsewhere. China is catching up, however.

    If you were to actually ask the Chinese people involved (not their government), most of them would tell you they would fight to work in one of these "slave labor" factories. China has a high unemployment rate, with many of their people barely surviving in shanty towns while struggling to find even day jobs that will feed them. They welcome the factories opened by American businesses, as well as the factories opened by Chinese businesses in response to the needs of American companies.

    Denninger does not separate his facts from his biases. Anyone reading him needs to understand that, and sift through the BS for whatever pearls he may offer.


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