Tag Archives: conscious consumer

Facebook drive-by via “friendly” fire to avenge a criticism of Steve Jobs?

An acquaintance did a Facebook revenge drive-by on me on my own turf (aka FB wall) because I dared to post an article critical of Apple’s co-founder and re-animator extraordinaire, Steve Jobs. It specifically critiqued his and Apple’s business practices — I offered it to balance the instantaneous postmortem beatification/deification of Mr. Jobs by the social media masses:

Steve Jobs 

Here’s an excerpt of the piece I posted, written by Mike Elk and originally cross-posted on both Michael Moore’s and In These Times’ websites about a month before Jobs’ untimely death: “Remembering Steve Jobs’ Record on Workers’ Rights”:

“While Jobs’ designs for computers may have put humans at their center, working conditions for Apple’s workers put profits at their center. Jobs did indeed revolutionize the computer industry, but in a way that was negative for American workers, who for decades have seen manufacturing job prospects dwindle as jobs go to workers overseas, who in turn often labor in brutal sweatshop conditions.

Many people may find it distasteful to critique the life’s work of a man in poor health, but I think it’s necessary to critique Job’s labor practices: I’m certain most profiles of Jobs’ tenure will completely avoid mentioning systematic labor rights violations that occur at Apple.

The computer industry was seen by many as the potential saviour of American manufacturing. According to former Intel CEO Andy Grove, in the 1970s there were about 150,000 Americans working in the computer industry. Between the 1970s and now, the computer industry economic footprint grew from being a $20 billion a year industry to $200 billion a year. At the peak of U.S. employment in the computer industry, there were two million people employed in making computers in the United States.

Now, with most computer manufacturing being done overseas, there are only 150,000 Americans employed in the computer industry, according to Grove, who wants to reverse the trend.

As industrialists like Steve Jobs have shipped the bulk of their manufacturing overseas to take advantage of cheap exploitable labor, the United States’ trade deficit in high-tech products has grown. (It was $31.2 billion last year, but is already $43.6 billion this year, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.)

The labor practices in most of those countries manufacturing Apple products would shock most liberal appraisers of Jobs’ legacy. Apple has continued to use a Chinese contractor, Foxconn, to produce its iPads and iPhones, despite allegations of the company’s horrific workers’ rights abuses. Foxconn routinely forces it workers to work two to three times the legal Chinese limit and to work in brutal and often unsafe conditions that have led to many accidents, as Michelle Chen reported for Working In These Times. These working conditions led to 10 Foxconn worker suicides at the company’s Shenzhen facility in 2010 alone.”

Very few others in the media or elsewhere are offering up a fuller and more balanced portrait of Jobs’ and Apple’s success, but there are some:

A blog in the New Yorker …and another one in Time magazine – “The Dark Side of Steve Jobs’ Dream”

Oh, and a one-man show already written and scheduled to open prior to Job’s death, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, by Mike Daisey — brought to my attention by a New York Times theater section piece . The show will open as scheduled, but with “changes” as reported in the Los Angeles Times’ Culture Monster Blog. Mike Daisey, in a press release, stated that “we live in denial about China: a relationship that so disturbs us that we pretend our devices are made in magical Willy Wonka-esque factories by space elves instead of the real human cost we all know in our hearts has been paid.”

Damn, blasted for thinking different? How do you like them Apples?

Steve Jobs

The debt-ceiling rose, the stock market fell: it’s time to take stock in ourselves.

My little bit of money is not in the market, because market gains are predominantly ill-gotten. The market is built on deception, exploitation, devastation or outright destruction — the markets operate as sanctioned global establishments of gambling, commodities speculation and mutant derivative product creation — run amuck — with phantom gains miraculously transformed into real money and real gains born out of the labor, sacrifice and pain of others.

The market flourishes because of the deception it perpetuates — one which we sometimes choose not to see, especially while our 401ks, our investment accounts, and in the recent past – our home’s value, are blooming like tomatoes on MiracleGro (for the record, I don’t use MiracleGro either).

The market relies on the exploitation/devastation/destruction of:

1) labor here and abroad;

2) the environment and natural resources – whether it be air, land, water, fossil fuels or conflict minerals;

3) animals (domesticated and wild mammals, fish and birds);

4) and lifelong debtors (usury, i.e., loan interest once was considered an abomination, a sin, and today it remains a scourge on society and government — and it’s purely an economic fabrication born of greed).

Why not take our money out of the market, and if possible (of course it’s possible), out of the big banks altogether? At the very least, we could move our money into true community banks, credit unions – or better yet, into savings and loans co-ops of family and friends (to deposit into and draw from legitimately – with trust and without interest).

You know, the interest you “earn” at the too-big-too-fail banks and the gains you “earn” in the market or through your retirement/investment accounts are primarily obtained either by the direct labor of others in the extraction, harvest, production, processing, transit, distribution and sale of commodities – or indirectly to you via the big banks, through interest debt paid by the wages actually earned by the aforementioned direct labor.

Let us use our money instead to do good for our families, our friends and for others. Let’s not buy a damn thing without knowing its origin and provenance, and let’s just get out of the stock market! Take your money out of the market because of love, NOT FEAR.

Let us try to be more conscious human consumers and human beings, and with small steps, we can start to reclaim our health, our lives, our natural and sacred resources, our planet — and most importantly, our human dignity and divinity.