I listened to the “Mr. Daisy and Apple” podcast on a Macbook Pro (while periodically checking my iPhone) and could not help but feel utterly powerless in the fight that Mike Daisy and Ira Glass are picking with Apple. Although I was appalled by some of Daisy’s reports, I am not going to get rid of my Macbook Pro or my iPhone. How has Apple won my unwavering loyalty while at the same time dodged highly public reports of their manufacturing negligence? Does the fact that I now know of the atrocities in Shenzhen and would still buy the iPhone 6 mean that I support unacceptable labor conditions? If I were to hold true to my values, I would stand against things like forcing workers into 34 hour shifts or exposing them to harmful neurotoxins. Yet, as I sit in Lewisburg, PA, very much disconnected from Shenzhen, I do not feel that I can combat the problem.
Daisy’s monologue is delivered powerfully, allowing the listener to feel present at these factories. I can picture the lifeless dorm rooms, the workers standing on the production line, speechless, and I can imagine the stoic guards at the gates. Daisy’s descriptions painted a picture of an absolutely unacceptable working environment. And who is going to be the one to fix it? Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this whole situation is that the people who are “trying” to fix the problem aren’t doing anything at all. Their efforts are merely a facade. Towards the end of the podcast, Glass and Daisy discuss the reports that independent auditors and Apple produce on the state of the various manufacturing companies in Shenzhen. While both Apple and these independent auditors have “standards” that they aim to enforce, they are seldom adopted. Apple’s own report states that only 32% of companies audited actually follow the standards.
This problem will undoubtedly persist. Until consumers like me take a stand against Apple’s products, the company will continue to go about business as usual. And I do not see myself taking a stand any time soon.