Thursday, January 26, 2012

Does Apple hate Chinese people?

As much as the iPhone has changed my life for the better it has changed too many lives for the worse. Apple changes lives. Just not the right ones. Apple should be ASHAMED at its cost cutting global manufacturing tactics. They’re running sweatshops in China and other Asian countries. Someone (my parents) gave me the new Steve Jobs biography-- remember him-- Steve Jobs? A living hero. A rich-as-hell visionary that changed all of our lives. We loved him. We waited every year for him to tell us what new products and features we needed. We didn’t know. But Steve did! He made a black turtle neck cool. (Well, as cool as it could be.) Then he died. Partly because of his hubris and refusal to accept Western medicine that many reported could’ve cured him. Ironically he tried Chinese herbs! Those did not work as hard as his employees in China.

I stared at that book on my coffee table for a month. Each day I felt the collection of the world’s consciousness moving away from Steve Jobs. The worship was weaning. All he had fought for in his living fleshy days seemed less and less important. Maybe it is true. Maybe what THEY say… that none of it really matters. Just your family, health, and if you have the latest Apple device. I am a victim of striving for the over-promised and under-delivered American dream. But one thing I gave up on a few years back, and perhaps Jobs didn’t, was caring about my legacy. I realized most legacies are fleeting except for a few lucky ones-- like Elvis, Marilyn and uber-villains like Hitler and the guy who was fortunate enough to be the namesake for the Ponzie scheme. That’s the way to go-- go out and be named for something like a disease. Is Lou Gehrig best known for his baseball or for being the guy who got a disease named after him? Turns out Lou Gehrig may not have had Lou Gehrig’s disease. How is that possible-- it’s his disease? You can’t take away his disease! Everybody else has somebody else’s disease. Lou Gehrig HAD Lou Gehrig’s. They need a new spokesman. I nominate astrogenius Stephen Hawkings.

That book just sat there. I dusted it, just in case I wanted to use the gift receipt and return it to Barnes. Sorry Barnes! I found myself angry at Jobs after he died. His legacy could’ve been so much more. He could’ve really changed the world… for a MUCH BETTER and balanced place. Apple has so much cash sitting around, but according to the New York Times they continue to manufacture in factories in China where employees often “Labor in harsh conditions. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious-- sometimes deadly-- safely problems.” The times reports they work excessive overtime, use underage workers, force employees to stand on their legs forever, and live in crowded dorms (with free high speed I’m sure!) Last year I read about the high suicide rates amongst Apple’s overseas workers. And so the fury started to simmer inside me. And we hold these devices in our privileged, manicured little hands with no consideration for its history at all. Clean up your act Apple. How much larger of a profit margin do you need? We go after school yard bullies but not these corporate bullies? With $46 billion in cash reserves Apple could stand to improve working conditions overseas! That’s right $46 billion. Increase the font size on the apple device you’re reading this on right now-- it reads $46 billion. GIVE THESE WORKERS SOME CHAIRS and money! And maybe, just maybe, bring some jobs back home! Remember us workers in America?

Make shit in America Apple! I’d pay more to have an iPhone stamped “Made in America.” Or “No humans were hurt in the manufacturing of this product.” Now if I was doing my stand up right now I’d say something like, “Not much more. Like 20 bucks more… But any more than 20 bucks keep it in China!” And you’d hear the humor in my voice and you’d break up in laughter relieved at the downturn of seriousness of the moment. But I am not doing stand up right now and right now it’s more important to me to be serious. Make it cool to own a “Made in America” iPad Apple. I can see the nifty ads you would create. How much money do you need to make before you care about the hands that touched the phone before the consumer does? You’re making money. A lot of money.

I don’t know much about Job’s personal philanthropy because I returned the book. Sorry Barnes! Maybe he gave. But to me, being a good, caring, considerate person is more important than making sure the “On/Off” switch is in a better place than the Android. I’m sure he cared some, but from the outside it appears not enough to sacrifice price and profit margins on his products for the well being of fellow humans. It always struck me as odd that a man faced with his own mortality wasn’t more altruistic.

The book went back. I got a $30 gift card to use in the future. I’d like to read about what Bill and Melinda Gates are doing with their money. But I had no desire to read about a man that changed the wrong lives in my opinion. My iPhone might be next to be “returned.” And then this computer I’m typing on. Ok Cook, you’re in the hot seat now. I need to go take a baby aspirin and breath now.