Outsourcing Labor to China: Blogging my Thoughts
Blogging my thoughts: Peter Krey, January 26, 2012
Outsourcing Labor to China
For outsourcing labor to China, companies should have to pay a certain fee, like a tariff for each worker, or a certain substantial amount for each foreign factory contract that could have been an American one. If workers here were paid $2,000 a month and over there they receive $200, then a profit for the company of $1,800 a month accrues for each American worker. Why not have one quarter of that amount go toward profit or reduced prices, but have three quarters of that amount become divided between the American and Chinese workers? This incredible sum of money, $1,350 per worker per month could be used for worker training and retooling in community colleges and in China for improving the quality of workers’ lives.
As stated in the New York Times (01/26/2012) “What’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that” (pages A2 and B10).
Workers here languish in unemployment while workers there are committing suicide, dying in aluminum dust explosions, and rioting “under the often harsh and dangerous conditions that laborers endure in Chinese factories where iPhones, iPads, and other high-tech devices are assembled” (A2).
The advantage of fast technological innovation and low prices for ourselves as consumers is offset by atrocious levels of human social and personal cost. Steve Jobs, as much as we admire and praise him, made $200 billion and the workers there are squeezed for $22 a day, if they work 12 hour shifts, mostly six days a week or more, with 20 workers living in a three room apartments in dormitories. They cannot even live with their families! Without any power, these workers are at the mercy of a system which has none.
Apple is trying to audit factories and improve safety conditions there. (Where is the Chinese government? Don’t they care about their people?) But then Apple, a very demanding client, requires another ten percent cut in cost from the supplying factory, so what concern do they really have for safety? Safety will be the first thing discarded in order to achieve the ten percent cut in cost required from the Chinese company.
Companies that destroy nature are called to task. Why not charge them when they flee workers who have some say-so and some rights, for those poor workers that have none? Shouldn’t companies also be called to task for the social and personal suffering that they cause?
Does an economic system have to be so radical that it nails so many poor workers on a cross for the sake of the incredible wealth of a few and our luxury of having such low prices?