I'm one of those people who listens to NPR frequently--always in the drive in to work and on the way home, and on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. In Los Angeles, I listen to KPCC and I financially support them as well.
I don't always listen to This American Life, but yesterday I did and was absolutely stunned by Mike Daisey's report called "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" from a show he does at Act One, Public Theater called "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." I'd never heard of Mike Daisey before but he is a monologist/actor/story teller and I gather he reports on extremes, not unlike Michael Moore.
Apparently Mike Daisey is a self-proclaimed geek and is/was totally obsessed by all things Apple, and so am I. Yesterday's show starts with host Ira Glass speaking to iPhone's Siri and then next to Mike about Apple--and other electronic products and the manufacturing of their parts. I thought it would be more about Apple but in actuality it was soon about Mike's investigation into how all our electronic peripherals are manufactured predominately in a factory town in China called Shenjen.
Glass says, "Mike Daisey was a self-described 'worshipper in the cult of Mac.' Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out."
I don't know how to embed a podcast, but here's a link to This American Life's podcast. So, here I am faced with a classic case of situation ethics. These people are employed and wouldn't be otherwise. I just can't stop thinking about all the exploited workers in Shenjen and how we all benefit from their labor. But, is that going to stop me from getting my next Apple product I can't do without, an iPhone? No, it isn't. But, damn; I'll never forget this monologue. Apparently Mike Daisey produced all this before Steve Jobs death, not that that makes any difference to the story at hand. I just feel a lot of emotional tension about my acquisitions. And, obviously, Apple itself is merely the tip of the iceberg. If we didn't manufacture in China, all our electronics would undoubtedly cost thousands of dollars each. Now I'm off to go bury my head in the sand.