Software, Hardware, Silverware

Muckraker Economics

Tomorrow night, NBC will air iFactory, Nightline’s look into Foxconn’s factories. It seems fit that I’d take now to voice my opinions on the issue.

To be clear, the conditions at Foxconn are horrible and inexcusable. But it isn’t Apple’s fault, and it isn’t as if they’re the only ones taking advantage of cheap Chinese labor: Amazon, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all use Foxconn. But Apple’s the one getting all of the attention for the tragedies at Foxconn. It may not be unwarranted, but it’s unfair.

The problem is thus: Americans love to applaud products “Made in the USA” and rag on those “Made in China”, but the fact is that American labor is more expensive, which means American products are more expensive. We say we want products made within our borders, but who’s going to pay $1499 for an iPad when an identical one can be had for $499?

Frugal Americans are going to buy the less expensive one, because that’s just the way we are, and truthfully we couldn’t care less if a product is made in our home nation, as long as we get a good deal. It just sounds good to slap an obnoxious “Buy American” bumper sticker on the back of your Italian Dodge Ram1.

Apple isn’t going to triple their prices, because no one will buy their products. If no one buys their products, then America doesn’t have Apple. And Apple is doing amazing things for America. They’re the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world, and they’re still growing. Do you think that money isn’t being injected into our economy?

  1. Message to American car manufacturers: instead of trying to sell me a car because it was built where I’m from, how about building a car I want to buy? ↩︎