Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Boycott Apple? Not in This Country

Boycott Apple? Not in This Country.

By now, most everyone in the Western world has read the recent, and more serious, criticism of Apple over the working conditions at its assembly factories in China where individuals work all day in absolute silence, are discouraged from taking restroom or lunch breaks, and are paid very poorly. Sometimes, they are not paid on schedule. It is the equivalent of a high tech sweat shop, and now that wealthy Americans and people from around the world who use Apple's products have heard the unflattering reality about how their iPads, Macbook Pros, and iPhones are actually put together, an ethical question arises: should we continue to support a company -- even one whose products we love above all others -- as long as it continues to impose draconian terms upon its laborers? Should we band together as social activists and boycott Apple until the company decides to do away with foreign manufacturing altogether and brings its jobs back to the United States of America, where its products are designed? Better yet, do we have the fortitude to back our moral outrage with the action such a stance would require of us?
Apple products
In a recent poll I conducted, I got a couple of strikingly similar responses to those questions. Here they are:

"I hate it for them," said one respondent. "I'm too hedonistic, though. I'm not going to give up my Apple stuff. I mean, they're getting paid."

Another answered, "I wouldn't give up my iPhone, stop using it. I wish they would treat their people better."

Finally, one brave soul replied: "Once I know something like this about any company, including companies that test on animals, I don't support them. I won't support Apple until it has changed its unethical practices."

The responses of the overwhelming majority in the poll reflect, perhaps, some selfishness among consumers. Their lack of security in the products they rely on day to day is indicative of a deeper problem and the absence of compassion and ethics, at least when those issues get too close to home. What do you think? Would well placed social activism be enough to persuade Apple to change its ways, or would it respond like most of the people in this poll? We may never find out, unfortunately.

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