Foxconn and the American Worker

Last night ABC News did a report on Foxconn, the chinese manufacturer responsible for assembling Apple products. Apple is under fire for allegedly allowing “sweatshop” conditions and “slave labor” in the manufacturing of their products.

I’ve been following this story closely. I’m interested in it because I’m a big Apple consumer, but also because our church has humanitarian groups working in China. I am currently building a website for one of those teams and I’ve had the opportunity to sift through hundreds of photos of how most Chinese people live and the conditions they have to put up with.

So I watched the ABC show and I honestly find it laughable that anyone could label the working conditions at Foxconn “slavery”, or “forced labor” or even “bad”. And I think these stories are surfacing not because we give a rats ass about the Chinese. Heck, we have millions of mexicans working in worse conditions in our fields, do we care about them?  No, America is jealous of China because we have become a nation of fat, lazy, selfish, phony, ungrateful bastards.

It’s true. Look how we have the gall to complain about working conditions in China. Wow, these people have to work in spotless factories that have soccer fields and internet cafe’s, free schooling, food for less than a buck a meal, and they have to pay $17 a month in rent,  and work 12 hours a day! Good lord, the tragedy of it all!!!! Why aren’t we as concerned about the immigrant working 12 hours a day during the 100 degree central valley heat right here in our backyard? Hmmmmm….

Let’s assume though for one second that we are actually concerned about Chinese working conditions. I’ll put it in perspective. Who among us only pays 4% of our salary for rent? I pay over 16% for mine. Foxconn workers end up paying about 9% for food if they eat twice a day in the cafeteria. That’s exactly what I would pay if I ate in our cafeteria twice a day and our plates are nowhere near as big as theirs. Also, they don’t pay taxes, because they fall under the minimum tax bracket. So they get to keep roughly 85% of their pay after expenses. I pay around 30% taxes and I’m lucky to sock away 10% for savings on a good month. Doesn’t sound so awful all of the sudden.

Now let’s look at what the alternative would be if these workers could not work at Foxconn. They might be working in another factory, like a garment factory or something where the conditions are really bad because they don’t have high profile clients like Apple. Most though would probably be living in the countryside working family farms and not making ANY profit at all, they’d just be surviving. Many would be living in places with no plumbing and no clean water and would be relying on humanitarian teams like the ones our church sends over just to get basic water filtration in place so they don’t have to drink the same water they defecate in.

So I think it’s really a matter of perspective. Would I do these jobs? Not now, because I don’t have to. I have 30 years of experience and skills built up that make me more valuable to employers. But I did do menial jobs when I was young and inexperienced. I worked at a cash register for $3 an hour yet loved it because it gave me opportunities I would not have had if I was unemployed. Does that mean I was a “slave”? Does that mean some corporation was “taking advantage” of me? Of course not. It means I was selling the abilities I had and profiting from it. Apparently that’s slavery now. My how things have changed.

But what I think is really bugging America is not the perception that the Chinese are being treated poorly. It’s really the fact that they are working, while we wallow in our own self pity. We want the world yet we’re not willing to do anything for it. We’d rather cruise around in our Hover-Rounds because we’re too weak and lazy to actually walk on the legs God gave us while we stuff our fat faces with fast food, bitch because we only have 500 channels of TV and complain about our triple shot, soy, vanilla freaking foo-foo latte with two carmel pumps being made wrong. It’s pathetic.

America, it’s time to quit complaining, get off your ass and make something happen for yourselves.