Recent reports from China paint a gloomy picture for the prospect of manufacturing jobs ever returning to the U.S. They also report that our stuff is being manufactured in less than ideal working conditions.
Charlie Rose conducted a video interview with David Barboza, Shanghai correspondent at The New York Times. He reports that the average Chinese factory worker works at least 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Mr. Barboza reports that China has major problems:
- Corruption: huge “shadow” economy
- Labor unrest
- Information access demands
- Banking problems
Mr. Barboza claims that every Chinese worker is enthused by new opportunity and is willing to do whatever is necessary to get ahead.
Let’s visit the factories
I compare today with Fritz Lang’s vision of the future in Smartphones’ Unintended Consequences
Important Note, March 17 2012: NPR’s radio show This American Life yesterday retracted their show in which Mike Daisey reported on his visit to “about ten” (it was actually 3) Chinese factories. The reason? Mr. Daisey had fabricated major portions of his report and outright lied about some events. I’m angry with Mr. Daisey, because his lies destroyed the veracity of my article. I comment on this in my March 17 comment to this blog article.Here is a transcript (PDF) of the retraction by This American Life.. . . and now the remainder of my February 17 article. Just remember that we can believe nothing that Mr. Daisey reports:
Mike Daisey visited an iPhone factory (owned and run by Foxconn) in Shenzhen and produced a startling audio report on what he found. It aired on NPR’s This American Life in January and includes an interview with a 13 year-old worker. He reports 12-hour workdays and dormitories with workers stacked like cordwood. Judging by his recent blog articles, it sounds like Mr. Daisey had an epiphany. Watch a brief video interview with Mr. Daisey. His views on Steve Jobs are complex.
He confirms Mr. Barboza’s reports of labor problems and adds that the workers are not only oppressed by the factory owners, but also by their government. Looking on the bright side of labor oppression, New York Times correspondent Nicholas Kristof remarks, “the grimness of factories like Foxconn was better than the grimness of the rice paddies”.
So, until the day that your job is taken by a Chinese worker, enjoy your Chinese-made yuppie toys.