Originally Posted by GingerJohn
I don't agree with the first bit. True no one is "forced" to work in these factories the same way as no one is "forced" to feed their family, or work the streets to survive. People end up in situations where there is no real choice be it by accident or (someone else's) design. It may well be that for a majority of the workers in this plant their only hope of survival is to work for Foxconn et al. You talk about not judging their working conditions by our standards, don't go and judge their life options by our standards too.
You're pretty much repeating what I said. "A crappy job is better than no job at all." Sounds like we both agree there.
As for the jobs going elsewhere, if Apple, for example, were to insist that the workers were paid more then they wouldn't be taking their buisiness elsewhere as it would be their idea. If, however, China were to increase the minimum wage then yes, there is a possibility that the jobs would go elsewhere, however I'm not too sure of that. There is a lot more to locating the plants in China than the wages; supply of raw materials, particularly rare earths, shipping distances to various markets, availability of labour and local economy (taxes, import / export rates) also pay a large part. It would not be too hard for the Chinese government to raise the wages and still make it financially beneficial to keep production in China if they really wanted to.
Yes, granted, if Apple forced their suppliers to pay their workers more (and in turn, paid said suppliers more), I'm sure those suppliers and workers wouldn't have a problem with it. But, if the company, workers, or state decided to hike up prices without Apple's consent, Apple could just as easily turn to Korea, or some other electronics manufacturing powerhouse to get the job done. Though, there's probably not much in the way of factories sizable enough to fulfill all of Apple's needs.
I'm not sure how you can say that it wouldn't be hard to raise the wages and still make it financially beneficial though. How do you know that Apple isn't just a couple pennies an hour away from switching to Korea to lower costs? Suppliers will certainly milk as much money out of Apple as they can for producing their parts, right up to the point of Apple leaving for a different supplier. That's what any competitive company would do. So I'm not sure that there's any more milk to squeeze, and I don't think you are either. There's no reason we can't speculate on the matter, but you're stating it as fact, when I don't think there is any evidence to justify it.
So because they are used to a worse standard of living it is OK? By that logic we shouldn't care about third world hunger as they are not used to getting much food, or child mortality as that is how it has always been. Yes they are developing, but it is not the same as when the West went through the industrial revolution, we were pushing to improve all the time. Right now it suits us to keep them in the same condition that they are at the moment. We are perpetuating the low standards of living, and they will not push through that if we continue.
You're still acting like they don't have a choice. It isn't up to us what they make of their lives. It is up to them.
That aside, we are perpetuating HIGH standards of living, compared to many of their other options.
Also, remember this: The more demand there is for factory labor, the more quickly the standards of living will increase. Chinese laborers are in high demand, as is evidenced by wage increases over the recent years. See the link below for an example. So in that sense, I bet the Chinese are very thankful for the US and other more developed countries having such high demand for their labor, because it is quickly increasing the prices at which they can supply said labor and still have a job.
I believe that we should take the responsibility, if not to help them, then at least not to hold them back. However that is easy to say. I still want my 7950 for $350, something which can't happen without the status quo
I think it is noble of people to want to help. I want to help too. But I don't think imposing artificial floors on wages is the way to do it. If you want to help, then donate your monies towards whoever you think deserves it most. And work on becoming wealthy, because then you can make more of a difference.