A painting of me

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory.

   8 February 2012, mid-morning

This American Life excerpted part of Mike Daisey one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” to produce a one hour podcast about how are tech-junk gets built. To say it’s a little bit bleak would be an understatement. It’s a full on Dickens novel crossed with some dystopian science fiction. Dasisey’s focus is on Apple, but at this point chances are good that Foxconn has made anything electronic you may own. The podcast is amazing and you should definitely listen to it.

The response to this story has been a bit all over the place. Most Apple blogs I read seem quick to let you know that HP and Dell and all those other shitty PC manufactures also make their junk in China. John Gruber actually linked to a (very old) article by Krugman about how shitty jobs in the 3rd world are better than nothing. I guess?

The New York Times has a great companion piece to this article that touches on why manufacturing has moved to China. It’s not simply a matter of costs. You really can’t produce the sorts of gadgets we enjoy today anywhere else in the world. This seems to be the most pulled quote from the article:

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

I bought a backpack from Goruck recently. I bought it because they are well reviewed backpacks. They also happen to by made in the USA. Goruck has written about this on their blog a few times. They had a post about how their GR1 is made. They’ve also written about their second factory, complete with goofy pictures of their staff. This side of things didn’t enter my mind at the time. Now that I think about it, my backpack is perhaps the only thing I own which I’m pretty confident was made ethically.



  1. A good post on rc3: Our moral complicity in China’s working conditions.

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