Culture and Globalization

Oct 21

In previous weeks, we talked about the rise of service industries in an era of globalization (related to the growth of  stadia construction,and tourist enclaves). We have also looked at the importance of communication technologies to our world economy, especially internet-based ones. This week, our readings point to the connections of manufacturing and other forms of routinized labor to both the service industry (Apple stores) and the circulation of goods themselves. The readings point to how even video game play can become a form of labor. In your response for this week, discuss the most interesting things you learned from each reading, and reflect on what you think the ethical and political implications might be for those of us who consume these goods (which might be just about everyone).

66 comments so far

  1. albuquerque
    10:50 pm - 10-22-2012

    The first piece I read was “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer” and I am appalled. I know I am strange for my generation in that I despise video games and always have. What has our society come to when kids go from nights of manhunt with your neighbors to nights of video games with people in China only trying to make a profit? It just doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem to be something people grow out of, as they get older. The thought of a grown man sitting behind a computer playing world of war craft for over 10 hours at 30 cents an hour is so pathetic and its not like they have to be there to support themselves, one of the men mentioned in the article has a law degree!
    The next piece I read was the “Riots, Suicides, and other Issues…” article about the Apple factory issues in China. Another sad realization that because of our outrageous demand for things the safety and health standards for workers in factories in China has basically become a joke. The idea that a women hasn’t been able to leave to visit her 1 year old child in over 3 months is frightening. I did however find it very interesting that the Apple plant pays more than most, it makes me wonder if the conditions are then worse there because they think its justified by the higher pay.
    The next article I read was the “Apple Retail Army…” which talked about the startling differences between what a company like Apple is making as a whole vs. what an individual worker is making. The fact that the store itself can make 750,000$USD in only three months while the manager only makes 11.25$USD an hour is sad. It seems that after reading through the article that the amount of pressure and work that the store employees deal with should receive a higher pay.
    Lastly I read the “Free Boat to China” article. The basic thing I took from it was that China has its vast and quick economic expansion because of its longstanding history of being a hub of low wage workers and factories. Its sickening to think that China is not only built on the exploitation of its own people but that we as Americans continue to buy into it giving them not only the right away to continue with it but the monetary means to continue to do so.
    Speaking of the political and ethical points that all 4 articles have in common, it is safe to say that as we (meaning the US) continue to allow by buying into companies using these corrupt factories we will continue the cycle of worker exploitation which is just morally and ethically wrong. Politically speaking I understand that we cannot merely stop all out economic ties with China but for every job we send there just to pay the worker less we are feeding Chinas economy and overall weakening ours.

    • btaborga
      6:08 pm - 10-25-2012

      I also was shocked to see that people can actually dedicate themselves to play World of War Craft for 30 cents an hour! I never even knew you could make money in these games. I personally think this defeats the purpose of the game itself. I also think it is horrible that these people work for so long and so many hours for almost nothing.

    • shusain
      11:48 am - 10-26-2012

      I completely agree with the way you feel about the piece, “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer,” I also couldn’t believe someone was being paid to play a video game, and at 30 cents an hour. It’s ridiculous. And what made me even more sad was the video we watched in class about the jean factory in China, and how the workers are treated there. I think most of the time these companies are only interested in the money that’s coming in rather than how much they pay their employees or the health risks involved for those people. They only listen to what the consumer wants.

  2. jnewman4
    1:43 pm - 10-23-2012

    While reading “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer” I was not expecting it to be about gaming. The issues proposed in the article definitely hold political and ethical implications. There are a few points that stood out to me; the first was realizing how these gold coins are collected for purchase, called real-money trading. While playing games on Facebook, I have been offered the chance to purchase virtual money to help with more advanced levels, but it never struck me as to how this virtual money is collected. When I read that workers are hired for the sole purpose of “farming gold” I became disgusted. It’s amazing the distance entrepreneurs will go to make money, apparently there exist thousands of businesses like this and they are “neither owned nor operated by game companies”. It’s like outsourcing from below.
    There were also the anti-gold farming initiatives that struck me. If a gold farmer dies, then time is wasted when trying to resurrect an avatar. Time is money in this industry. The fact that these protests showed parallels to immigrant Chinese laundry workers made me feel uneasy. It’s not the workers fault they are poor or need this job. “They are playing, we are making a living”. Also, there exists unfairness when determining the legality of the situation, farmers get busted and buyers don’t. It’s unethical, but its business, and as Mark Jacobs puts it, “[you can’t bust] the guys who are playing your game”.
    The retail business as a whole is complex. Even as I worked in retail I couldn’t understand why I was making $9/hr, while the company was raking in millions even billions per year. Many associates feel underpaid because retail is a demanding line of work. However it’s true that there are people who will take your job and your paycheck with a smile, including Chinese gold farmers.
    The Apple article made valid points about fair pay and the importance of healthy working environments, but I felt that it was obnoxious after reading the gold farming article. Associates in the U.S. make over twelve times that of a gold farmer and hour. What is it exactly they have to complain about? At least in America they have to option to quit.

    • ksalvucc
      9:22 am - 10-24-2012

      Interesting take on the Apple article, I thought this because you put it in a way that makes us think about this issue of pay.

    • jnewman4
      10:45 am - 10-25-2012

      It’s interesting to think that as we sit here and oppose illicit labor practices, our contribution to the business is sometimes unavoidable. I need clothes, I need a computer, cell phone, and shoes to even function. Chances are, all clothing companies use some form of outsourcing. The fact that now outsourcing has trickled down to the gaming industry is unfathomable, yet understandable. It was only a matter of time until for-profit corporations resurrected the idea of RMT. I am not a gamer, but i am a consumer of other goods and services produced overseas. I’d be a hypocrite if i protested the gaming industry; it’s an unavoidable cycle.

      • jnewman4
        10:48 am - 10-25-2012

        *** disregard this comment… its meant for another post

    • jhanse10
      12:16 am - 10-26-2012

      I enjoy that you linked the readings to one of your real life experiences.

    • sarahariri
      1:00 pm - 10-26-2012

      I also didn’t think the Chine gold farming article was going to be about video games at first glance. I believe that, in a globalized world, Chinese gold farming has the capability to breed more resentment towards China in the form of “yellow peril.” It is impossible to control because the company cannot forbid someone from purchasing their game.

    • ncockril
      2:32 pm - 10-26-2012

      Good response. I would like to point out that even though Blizzard (the company responsible for World of Warcraft) has strict policies against the real-life sale of in-game items, every 20$ spent for in-game items (which are really just pixels) just attaches players more into the game. They have already spent that money for playing the game, and won’t just leave it. These illicit sales in my opinion actually benefit the company as well.

    • hakunanahtata
      6:16 pm - 12-10-2012

      These articles really opened up my eyes to aspects of online video games with virtual money and realities of what it is like to work for Apple. It is interesting how the global flows of capitalism are involved in pretty much every aspect of our life if we are spending money. I love Apple products and because of me “blind love” I didn’t think they would be the type of company to cut corners and hold out on benefits for their employees.

  3. sbannach
    2:10 pm - 10-23-2012

    In Jay Greene’s article, “Riots, suicides, and other…” he discusses the plight of the Chinese employees of Foxconn, a company contracted to manufacture Apple products. The company itself is massive and employs hundreds of thousands of unskilled laborers that work 60+ hour work weeks. Overtime is necessary to make ends meet and sometimes even required by management. However, despite these disadvantages young workers flock to Foxconn to procure employment even if it means harsh and oppressive conditions.

    Interestingly enough, on the American side of the coin there is a similar situation, albeit on a much smaller scale. David Segal describes how employees of Apple stores in the United States face the same dissatisfaction with their jobs in “Apple’s Retail Army…”. Retail sales associates were one made to feel like valued members of a company that was benefiting the greater good. However, in recent years, the immense popularity of products such as the iPhone has caused changes in how employees are treated, paid, and the expectations they must adhere to. Many former and current employees express frustration in their inability to “climb the ladder” and advance in their positions. Despite these negative aspects, much like Foxconn in China, employees know there is a long line of eager applicants that will snatch up their positions if they leave.

    Elsewhere in China, a new industry called “real-money trading” is booming in dank, cramped rooms. “Real-money trading” involves players of online games such as World of Warcraft paying real-world money for virtual money or other goods to improve their standing in the game. As Julian Dibbell explains in his article “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer,” workers are paid to spend a 12+ hour workday “farming” such virtual commodities by performing specific tasks in the online game that are then sold to American and European players for profit. Although some workers express satisfaction in that the lines between their work and play are completely blurred, the conditions are nevertheless appalling and the wages are extremely low.

    Finally, Andrew Ross outlines more traditional outsourcing to China in his book “Fast Boat to China.” He argues that the blame for all the negative consequences of outsourcing lies not in China itself but in the greed of global corporations. Because there are no regulations regarding labor or the environment in China, it is the perfect place for corporations to re-locate in order to widen profit margins. Ross contends that the real solution to this problem is to enact policies that embrace fair trade, sustainable development, and internationally recognized labor rights.

    As a consumer of countless imported goods, I believe I need to keep in mind all dimensions of the issue. Although some may argue the solution is to simply refuse to buy Chinese goods, this also has a ripple effect in that the loss of business could possibly jeopardize the job of a poor laborer overseas. At the same time, however, these readings also make me realize my own Western privilege being able to buy these high-end electronics and how I will take it for granted. Thus, though I would rather not endorse global corporations taking advantage of Chinese laborers, sometimes I simply do not have a choice. Though I will not be throwing out my MacBook anytime soon, I will definitely be thinking about these articles before purchasing any other Apple product.

    • tmarchan
      10:55 pm - 10-24-2012

      I agree with you, it is much easier said than done. The solution is not that simple. Taking small steps, such as not purchasing another Apple product will make a diffence if more people join together and do the same.

    • jnewman4
      10:49 am - 10-25-2012

      It’s interesting to think that as we sit here and oppose illicit labor practices, our contribution to the business is sometimes unavoidable. I need clothes, I need a computer, cell phone, and shoes to even function. Chances are, all clothing companies use some form of outsourcing. The fact that now outsourcing has trickled down to the gaming industry is unfathomable, yet understandable. It was only a matter of time until for-profit corporations resurrected the idea of RMT. I am not a gamer, but i am a consumer of other goods and services produced overseas. I’d be a hypocrite if i protested the gaming industry; it’s an unavoidable cycle.

    • ngibson3
      12:38 pm - 10-26-2012

      I really liked how you mentioned keeping in mind all the dimensions of the issues that the articles brought up as consumers, and being conscience of who or what those decisions could effect.

    • ncockril
      2:47 pm - 10-26-2012

      Your post was good- the crux of the whole argument with Foxconn must come from a realization that the company has no allegiance to any workers, them being American, Chinese, or anywhere else. Wherever they can cut manufacturing costs while getting the huge profit from Apple’s immense sales is where Foxconn and Apple will head.

  4. msirico
    6:11 pm - 10-23-2012

    These readings were all incredibly fascinating, though also quite shocking to read. In the article, “Riots, Suicides, and Other Issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories” is quite an eye-opening piece. With the extreme global growth of Apple as a company, Apple needs to outsource a lot of its factory work o other companies such as Foxconn. However, the working conditions there are absolutely atrocious. the workers have to handle work weeks of more than 60 hours, and the safety and health standards are horrendous. These conditions are not worth the pay, even though it is more than the usual for factories in China.
    The article about the gold farming in china was even more surprising than the Foxconn article. The use of gaming to turn a profit is a new adaption to the online business world. There is a great deal of blurring between work and play in this business of gold “farming.” Trading online coin for real coin is overwhelming. To think that businesses hire people and pay them little more than dirt, to “farm” gold in games for more than a dozen hours per day in order to sell this gold and rake in a huge profit is awful. These people are paid around 2 dollars a day and work in terrible conditions.
    “Apple’s Retail Army” is another side of the apple global community. Apple, once a small company, has grown and grown since the arrival of the iPod. The stores make huge profits, but the employees n retail are paid very low. But no matter how little, there are still large amounts of people wanting the jobs. Workers feel terribly underpaid and over worked, but are continuously face with not only pushy and demanding retail customers, but crowds of clamoring people for their jobs. Its hard to rise in rank in the Apple retail community, and workers are trapped making little money with no opportunity to grow with Apple.
    In “Fast Boat to China,” the argument is made that it is not the fault of China that the problems of outsourcing, over work and low wages included, lay. Instead, the growth of the global economy and the middle class are at fault. Corporation greed, with companies wanting the most profit and lowest price, leads to outsourcing, where workers are mistreated. Low retail wages are also the fault of this corporate greed.
    Though a retail consumer who appreciates the lower price of items due to this outsourcing, I have also been the retail worker of a large and international corporation. I have seen and felt the dissatisfaction of working where the average worker makes under 10 dollars an hour, no matter how many millions the corporation makes. There is a great ethical problem in outsourcing and in the mistreatment and terrible conditions of workers all over the world. With the world population clamoring over each other for jobs, no matter how terrible, there is always a demand for new jobs, but corporations need to turn a great profit, and people suffer in the process.

    • saehwan72
      3:07 pm - 10-24-2012

      You and I both wrote about how the spread of outsourcing can’t be blames on the Chinese people, but rather should be blamed on the greed of these multinational corporations. I also agree with you in the sense that I too think the amount of money workers take home compared to the profit they earn for these corporations is too highly skewed in favor of the corporations.

      • hakunanahtata
        6:24 pm - 12-10-2012

        The flows of the reserve workforce for Apple play the same role in China and the USA. It is amazing how employees are treated as disposable because they can be due to the availability of jobs. I agree that it is the corporations faults that the conditions for workers is not acceptable but what can be done about it that still allows smooth flows of capitalism (profit), inexpensive commodities that we are so used to being available and still paying workers a fair salary in the US, China, around the world?

    • kmilburn1957
      7:09 am - 10-26-2012

      I am appalled as well at the working conditions of the Foxconn employees , and to a lesser extent, The Apple retail workers. In regards tot he overseas employess I think there should be an international ruling that protects these workers, but as long as there is money to be made, the big corporations will stretch the workers to do it.

  5. kmilburn1957
    6:22 pm - 10-23-2012

    What a surprise to me to find the article The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmers by Julian Dibbell to be about video games! All I know of the current games is what I watch over the shoulders of my sons. I marveled at the graphics of World of Warcraft, but had no idea how enmeshed the real world has become in that of the virtual world. I didn’t even realize it was possible. Again, global economy has stepped up to a demand, supplying those who have enough money to pay someone else to play their games so they can level up, or to buy the tools they need to move up in their quests. I don’t get that either. If you play the game because it is fun, why would you pay someone to play it for you? I admit I don’t play, so I don’t know how frustrating it is to get to certain levels, but I can guess from my sons’ groans that the “grind” gets to you. I was also blown away by the Chinese workers who would work twelve hour shifts, then go the local internet café and play the same game for hours on their free time.
    Both Dibbell’s article and Jay Green’s article on the Apple Factory touch on the Chinese cheap labor force. They describe the working conditions as long hours and dormitory style living, with employees grateful to have the highest paying job for the area. Both sets of employers describe the job as good for “young workers”. This sounded similar to Apple’s Retail Army described by Segal, who laments that the Apple young retail store employees are grateful to work for Apple, but are stuck in a job with no future growth. They grumble that compared to the billions brought in by the Apple products, their wages don’t reflect this, but this is not a fault of only the Apple employers. Retail work in general is a low paying sales position with high turnover, and I truly don’t see why they would expect to earn a large percentage of the item being sold. They did nothing to design or create the product, merely man the store that sells it to consumers. Surely the brick and mortar stores that make up a mall will soon be phased out as more and more consumers shop on the internet. Then what will the mall employee do?
    As the Fast Boat to China article mentioned, the Chinese are in a worse unemployment slump than we are, with displaced farmers and workers looking for any jobs they can find- close or far from their families. So it is no wonder that they will go to what we consider extreme lengths to earn a wage. I am sure there are jobs that have not even been thought about – such as the Chinese Gold Farmers- that develop as the internet and computer industry grows, and the world will be able to draw from a global work force to fill them.

    • grivas3
      2:18 pm - 10-24-2012

      I really enjoyed reading your response. I was also shocked by the fact that people are paying others to play thier game so they go up in the levels. Also how people play these games for hours because it’s thier job and then continue to play afterwards as well.

    • ender91
      10:30 pm - 10-25-2012

      I do not understand why they would buy those gold coins either. I didn’t think it was possible actually but I guess players can share gold coins and so that’s how they sell them. Its interesting how the virtual world have provided the real world with new jobs but they’re not exactly the best jobs because they’re illegal and underground.

    • sarahariri
      12:56 pm - 10-26-2012

      I totally agree with your shock over the Chinese gold farmers piece! I recall playing classic video games as a kid growing up in the ’90s, but it was completely shocking to me how times have changed and people are using real money in a virtual world to create a virtual economy. It’s interesting how the customers are usually from the Western world and the goods are being bought from China (where the workers are playing for a low wage)… Much like buying jeans from companies that have their goods made in China, as we saw in the documentary “China Blue.”

  6. vorozhko
    8:40 pm - 10-23-2012

    I would like to start my comment for this week’s reading by expressing my personal attitude to the information technology and social media. I personally do not share the fascination with neither of those. I am convinced that the internet is not as free spirited is it might seem. I believe that the expansion of the information technology and the social media platforms will lead to the establishment of the parallel, online reality, which would (and already does) shape the real world relations and communications. To illustrate my point I would like to refer to the NY times article “The life of a Chinese gold farmer”. The wide spread computer game creates sweatshops, exploiting workers, so that people in the Global North could improve their self-esteem in the virtual world. I believe that such trend will only expand in future as online influence shapes offline relations to a greater extent every day. I think in the short to mid run we would be reading a new article in the NY times about a sweatshop in costal China that sells tweeter followers online. It is happening vastly already. Go to a web site for freelancers you will find a dozen projects of “liking and following “certain companies for about $25 a day. So an assumption that an online space is clean and even the most ordinary guy like me can become influential and can deliver his message to the world is just an illusion. Online space is just as corrupt as an offline, a.k.a real world. And we can clearly see it just from the example of the gold farmers in China.
    Moving on to the concept of corporate responsibility and fair trade, as I believe those two topics are predominant in all the articles. I have very much enjoyed the introduction to the book
    “First boat to China”. I agree with the author that neoliberal approach to the international trade is highly inefficient and only creates positive externalities in the short term, while contributing to vast economic and political problems in the long run such as destroying the community and creating horrible psychological conditions of constant uncertainty to the workers. The article “Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories” complies to the same point of view portraying a reality of the blue-collar family in China, where spouses do not see each other and their child for months, while struggling to make minimum pay and sent something to their family. And surely workers in China are not loyal to their employer; there is no reason to be.
    While the “global citizen’s” passion for an Iphone is creating sweatshop jobs in the global South, it also creates service, retail jobs in the Global North. In the article “Apple store’s retail army” the author quotes one of the former Apple store employees who says that many of those working for the store are worshiping the company, thinking they are making a contribution, which is one of the reasons people comply to the lack of sales commissions and relatively low pay. Well, that is the same illusion as the one about the transparency of cyber space.
    I believe that citizens of the developed world have to bear responsibility for the consumerism behavior they practice, and I do not refer just to the information technology goods, but essentially everything we buy. Negative externalities of consumerism do not occur in the short-term, or vice versa. In the short run we see an increase in consumer spending, creation of seasonal (prior to Christmas) or sometimes permanent jobs, etc. However our need for a new iphone 5, a pair of shoes speeds up climate change, encourages labor abuse in the developing world and somehow makes a 20 year old believe that working for a corporation contributes to the company’s philosophy.

    • jhanse10
      12:22 am - 10-26-2012

      You bring up very interesting arguments. I would like to agree with you that I feel like people in the “developed” would need to be held accountable.

    • kmilburn1957
      7:13 am - 10-26-2012

      Interesting point about the virtual world being just as corrupt as the real world. People join the virtual games with avatars to creaet a new world to lose themselves in, then bring all the avarcie and social issues along with them. The online world has merged with the real world in a new and worrisome way.

  7. btaborga
    11:02 pm - 10-23-2012

    This week’s readings were very informative and interesting. They all focus on the issue with labor and globalization. In Andrew Ross’s piece we can take a look at how “China is playing host to the largest and most corrosive environment for offshore labor in the global free trade economy”. He mentions that China is the perfect place for companies to settle down because there are so many workers willing to work for a low wage. The fault of this is not only on China, but worldwide because we are the ones demanding these products from these factories and we demand them cheaply. Chinese workers have started to realize of this injustice of their hard work and low paying jobs and have started to demand more rights. We need policies to protect international trade and workers producing the products we use like labor rights and fair trade. In the article “Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer” we can see how people are actually paid to play the game World of War craft for people who pay around $300 for these workers to upgrade your online avatar. They spend up to 12 hrs a day playing and seven days a week. There are over 30 million online players playing online. They all work in small cubicles for various hours. In my opinion this is very impressive to read about because I never thought people would actually get paid to do this. They work long hours and I feel the point of playing this game loses the “playing” part and becomes a job because of the demand. I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop this even though many of these young workers spend various long and stressing hours at their job. If people are willing to pay for this and you have people to work for the money the consumer can pay then no one can stop it. It’s just shocking how people are willing to pay so much money for this In the article “Apples Retail Army” by David Seagal we can take a look on the working conditions and pay right here in the US. He mentions in his article that apple employees enjoy little of the wealth apple makes ($16 billion sold in merchandise). He also estimates that each apple store employee sells about $447,000 on the products they sell but they do not get to enjoy these benefits. The store manager that has worked for many years only made about 11 dollars an hour. Many college students are willing to work for this wage but is this good, knowing how much money Apple makes? In his article he also shows how on a survey Apple hands out, most of the employees put a 5 or 6 on how happy they are working there. I think a company as big as Apple should be easily able to improve the wages and the environment, even in the USA. In the final article “Riots Suicides and other Issues” by Jay Greene we can see the horrible work conditions at the factory “Foxconn” where people kill themselves, they work long hours (especially when a new device such as the iphone 5 is coming out). There have also been explosions and many riots inside the factory. People still decide to work here because it pays better than other companies, and it is the only job they can find that will sustain themselves and their family. I think the only thing we can do in this situation is be aware of these issues, read articles like the ones we read in order to be aware of how our products we used get to our door. Eventually/hopefully a significant amount of the world population will understand the problems and pressure on big companies and on governments will create them to change their policies to improve the jobs of those who now days work so much for so little.

    • shill10
      11:43 am - 10-24-2012

      You did a great job with giving quick summaries on each article. I think that you are right–one way we can stop the unfair wages and poor working conditions is to spread the word, and have international labor laws put into place and enforced. I also thought that article about the gold farmers was interesting, because I am not a gamer, and have never thought of someone being paid to play a game. I feel like that takes the fun out of the game if you are paying someone else to play for you.

  8. scamp3
    11:46 pm - 10-23-2012

    All of the articles this week discuss the equality, or inequality of workers. Mostly the articles focus on Chinese labor, but one article did discuss Apple employees who work here in the United States. The first piece I read was an excerpt from “Fast Boat to China” by Andrew Ross. In this he talks about foreign investment, specifically with China. He brings up issues of China providing so many sources of material and commodities for the US, and how job hopping continues to grow within China. This was common in most of the articles. Many workers are forced to go from job to job in order to continue to make a barely livable wage. An article that deeply connects to this issue is “Riots, Suicides, and Other Issues in Foxconn’s iPhone Factories” by Jay Greene. In this he looks at a specific industry, and gives a glimpse into the unfair treatment of the people who work there. Workers are easily indispensable, and I believe this is a huge issue, but an issue that will most likely sadly continue despite my personal feelings. Another issue that seems to be of no importance is the fair treatment of the employees. They work long hours in horrible conditions with little to show for it, and it is appalling. Being an employee anywhere, you want some kind of security. This article led me to the next “Apples Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay” by David Segal. This article takes it back to US apple employees. It mainly discusses your average everyday salesman. After reading the previous two articles, I find it a bit silly reading the wants of the American worker as compared to the average Chinese worker. It makes me think that things here really are not that bad, which they are not, but that in itself is a problem. Not only should other employee’s be getting treated well here, but the same employees making the products in China could absolutely be helped as well. Part of me wonders, though not to say Chinese workers do not need jobs as well, but why are these Apple factories not here in the US? Would it be too costly for the multi-billionaire corporation…? I suppose so, since it seems it is too costly to treat employees overseas like respectable human beings. The last article I read, “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer” tears me in two. While some may look at this sort of job as awful, there are people starving and looking for whatever jobs they can, as highlighted in the previous articles. I cannot blame Li or Min for their choice in taking these jobs, for there are few options for them to take. I would have to agree however, being the nerd that I am, paying money instead of playing the game the way it is intended and designed to play is cheating. What is the point of paying your way through a game? How is that a game? If the only point to it is that it gives a job to a person who would otherwise be homeless, who am I to cast judgment?

  9. emyers
    11:53 pm - 10-23-2012

    The two articles I found most interesting were the Apple articles. I own a macbook, an iphone, and am on my 4th ipod at least and these articles made me want to turn them all in and buy some recycled products instead. My dads company has old laptops that I might be able to snag and I think if I did some web research I could find some website that sells recycled phones and other technological devices. It is sad that this is what our world has come to, but I think the large corporations are largely at fault. Apple and Foxconn alike trick their workers into thinking that they are good companies who look out for the people and thir workers, and make their companies look superior to others. Like in the Foxconn article, their was never a worry of losing employees because they knew there were thousands more waiting in line to be hired next because of the “good pay”, when really the workers were under such harsh conditions and so many people were committing suicide, they had to instal safety nets so that workers could not so so anymore! I just don’t understand how anything can reach that level and their solution is to put nets around the building instead of improving working conditions to stop the problem. The same goes for Apple, people are lining up to work for them because the company has such high status and recognition in society, it is seen as a good company, looks good on resumes, etc… but the reality of that workplace, although not as harsh as in Chinese factories, is that workers are being exploited, receiving low wages and working in unfair conditions.

    The companies are not only capturing the minds of seeking and current employees, but also of customers. If enough customers knew about these conditions, I would like to believe that these companies would be shut down rather quickly. Both Apple and Foxconn lie to the media denying these conditions, and don’t even allow their employees to talk to the media so that we are shielded to what is happening behind the scenes.

    As people, I think it is our moral duty to take information like this and be the voice of the people who can’t speak or are blinded by the corporations lies, we have to speak out to curb the demand of the products and end the companies ourselves. The Foxconn article said that in one weekend Apple sold 5 million iPhones, that in unfathomable! There are clearly a large amount of supporters, but new spreads quickly these days and hopefully these companies will either change their conditions or be shut down…but hopefully just work for a more ethical workplace because their products are legit!

    As for political action, there needs to be stricter law enforcement on these corporations and possibly even international aid in China due to the states lack of labor laws.

    • saehwan72
      3:00 pm - 10-24-2012

      I really liked your perspective on the apple articles. You voiced your opinion that as people purchasing these products we have an obligation to know exactly what goes into the production process and hopefully get the wrong practices changed.

    • btaborga
      6:12 pm - 10-25-2012

      It is sad to see how companies make their employees lie about the working conditions in these factories. If they could they would say the truth, but they also know that they can easily be replaced so they go along with the game because it is the only thing “sustaining” them for now.

    • albuquerque
      8:50 pm - 10-25-2012

      I very much agree with you, the change is going to have to come from us. If we do not make these injustices known then nothing will change since the workers themselves have no voice. Unfortunately it is so difficult to do so with a nation like China and because of the lack of transparency middle men companies that falsify work place inspections.

  10. rgomez5
    12:36 am - 10-24-2012

    In the article about the suicide rates among employees in the Foxconn’s iPhone factories was very interesting, and it took my attention that it is mentioned that employees in this factory make more money than most other workers. However, some conditions may look unacceptable to us here in America, we need to study deeply and see how are the conditions in other Chinese factories and what is their culture regarding employees treatment. Consumption in America should not be blamed for this matter, maybe if there would be no Apple this workers would end up working in a much worst place. On the other hand it is also possible that some Chinese workers in their need to make extra cash they may not pay as much attention to their schedule and security. Similar situations were common in the US earlier in the 20th century. I think the Chinese government will need to implement more pro-worker regulations that ensure workers get better treatment, but this will be hard if the supply for labor is too high and people are more willing to take almost any job.
    In David Segal’s article about Apple employees in the US, I can clearly understand the employees and their frustration with the amount of money they get paid for their job, but we fist need to understand the labor market and why they get paid. A company like Apple has a high market value because quality innovation and marketing, most people who go to the Apple store go for the brand, and this process has a very high cost that some employees don’t see. A company like Apple has thousands of shareholders that expect profits according with company performance. Some employees may enjoy bonuses depending of their performance and contribution to the company, but not all can just get a salary raise because the company is doing well. If every company starts doing that it will incur into unnecessary expenses and will have less resources for research and other future oriented activities. On the other hand, if one day the company is going through a hard time will employees work for $5 an hour?

    • ksalvucc
      9:29 am - 10-24-2012

      Interesting analysis of the readings. This is because it showed me a glimpse of the perspective in which you are coming from. I thought the way that you posed the question at the end of the prompt really gave us something to think about and would be a good discussion point in class.

      • rgomez5
        3:39 am - 10-26-2012

        I just find too simplistic to blame corporations for low wages. We all want more for less, business owners are not different!

    • ender91
      9:56 pm - 10-25-2012

      Thank you for your perspective on the Apple article. I mean I think employees should get a raise if the company is doing really really well but the cost to achieve that great performance must be higher too so I guess there should a balance somewhere.

  11. saehwan72
    12:59 am - 10-24-2012

    I always knew that outsourcing caused issues for the U.S., however I didn’t realize the issues that it caused China. In our society we quickly point our fingers to the Chinese and blame them for the rise in outsourcing and the rising unemployment rates in the U.S., however the corporations themselves are mostly to blame. The rise of Chinese economy has had its share of different effects in the U.S. What allows for all this to take place is the “banner of free trade”. The rates at which China produces engineering graduates alone are alarming. With the highest population in the world factored with a lack of jobs for those who are qualified, lead to millions of applicants looking for a chance to work for these corporations. “My message to them is very simple: Girls, when I was growing up my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ I say to my girls, ‘Girls, finish your homework. People in China and India are starving for your jobs.’” This quote summarizes the change in world economy where it has become so much easier for larger corporations to move their operations to a country with fewer taxes, less employment laws, and less environmental responsibility and still be met with a large population of willing skilled workers.
    In the article “Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay” I learned that the average Apple store sales associate or “specialists” as Apple likes to call them, make an average of $25,000 a year. What’s interesting is the economic standpoint of it all. How is it that the individuals who sell electronics ranging in price starting at $200 all the way up to $6000 could be making such a modest wage? Apple uses a different motivation technique compared to its competitors. The motivation technique is centered on empowerment and how they try their best to make the specialists feel like their contributing to a greater good. What was also alarming was the rate at which college graduates apply to these retail stores. They could easily work for companies such as AT&T or Verizon and make close to double or even triple the amount of money. In a sense this article helped me understand at least a part of the reason why we’re in the economic state that we’re in. Younger Americans are eager to work for a company which provides little mobility within the company at a lower wage, as long as it portrays a “cool” image. In “Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories”, I was able to find out the alarming suicide rates that take place in these iPhone production plants. It also helped me realize that as excited as I get for when a new Apple product comes out, how many extra hours are these people being forced to work just to prepare for people like me. I’m personally a fan of Apple products and have owned practically their entire product lineup, the iPhone, Macbook, and most recently the iPad. It’s a humbling realization, to be in a position to purchase these items at its earliest available date, without ever considering the labor situations these workers are put through.

    • tmarchan
      11:00 pm - 10-24-2012

      I feel the same way, I own almost every lineup of Apple products and I do it without thinking. Reading these article really opened my eyes to the conditions going on in the Apple factories.

      • rgomez5
        3:42 am - 10-26-2012

        Maybe we should also take a look on other factories, and see how different they work. It seems like these days is too much attention on Apple, is it because they are the best now? The big company everyone is trying to attack!

    • albuquerque
      8:53 pm - 10-25-2012

      I, like you, also have quite a few apple products and it is very humbling and sickening to think of all the injustices that have gone into making all of the apple products I own. It is a tough situation though because if we stop buying and the companies shut down then the workers are entirely out of work so there really is no win.

  12. ksalvucc
    9:18 am - 10-24-2012

    The excerpt from the book titled �Fast Boat to China� was very interesting. I learned that the disorder alteration in China�s economy directly affects the U.S. in many ways. Such as: prices at the gas pump, mortgage interest rates, job security, etc. Another thing that I learned from this excerpt was how connected the U.S. is to China, in regards to ideas. How we are watching China very closely. After reading this, I was quite shocked. I never knew that the U.S. would be so dependent on what another nation�s economy is doing, like that of China�s. If we look at the ethical and political implications that this has, it is quite interesting. This would imply that policies that are now made in the U.S. will be similar to China�s policies. This is the same for the ethical implications. We are so focused on what China is doing, that our ethics, as a country, are being pushed aside.
    In the article titled �Apple�s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay� I learned a few things. I learned that Apple does not offer commission to their employees. This was because it was against their company�s goal to finding the right product for the customer, rather than the most expensive brand. This way the customer would have a good rapport with the apple brand. This fact was very interesting to me because it show me how the company works. I also learned about the survey that the apple employees take. I learned about the promoter and the detractor. How when the employees rate whether they would recommend a friend working at an apple retail store a nine or a ten they were a promoter, if it is less they are a detractor. This was very interesting to me because I never knew that apple had these types of surveys. This shows me that they are really trying to make their company flourish with employees. The political and ethical implications for the consumers of these goods would be trust (for ethical) and best price for political implications.
    In the article titled â��Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factoriesâ�� I learned that at some Iphone factories in China, people are rioting and committing suicide, as well as explosions, and harsh working conditions. This shocked me because I did not think this was going on at Iphone factories. This brings ethical and political implications for the consumers of these goods. Consumers might not want to buy these products because the working conditions at some of these factories. People may feel bad for the employees, and not want to buy this product because of what is going on. The political implication that this has for consumers of this product is huge. People may not agree with the political structure, and how things are running in these factories, and that would make the promotion of this Iphone product not happen.
    In the article titled �The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer� I learned about these virtual games. I learned how the virtual game called �World of Warcraft� is played by so many people. How these players of this game get virtual wealth in the game, by collecting coins in the game. The gamers share a vast virtual world amongst themselves. This has ethical and political implications for the consumer of these virtual games. The ethical implication is that the consumers of these games feel a sense of bonding amongst the players. This is because of the vast amount of players who play these games. The political implication is that there is an increasing awareness of the game itself, amongst the consumers of this game. Therefore, the country that this game is being played in is starting to be well known on a political basis, partly because of this game. This is because of the notoriety that this game is receiving amongst the consumers of these types of games. The more notoriety an item (virtual game) receives the better chance that it would have political implications for that particular country.

    • shill10
      11:38 am - 10-24-2012

      Your first paragraph is really interesting. Something that stuck out to me was that job security is so low everywhere. I cannot imagine living in a place where there are so many people that employers do not have to treat their employees fairly, because someone else will gladly take the job if an employee quits. I liked the way you discussed the moral and political implications that you found from each article as well.

  13. ngibson3
    11:28 am - 10-24-2012

    Jay Green article, “Riots, Suicides, and other Issues in Foxconn’s Iphone Factories,” and Andrew Ross, excerpt “Fast Boat to China”, were very similar. They both talked about the exploitation of Chinese labor as a result of the growth of the world economy, world middle class, and consumer culture, which demands a variety of products at a cheap cost. Corporations outsource work there because China, and many other nations, especially in South East Asia, and Central America, because the governments have created environments with as little regulation as possible, in order to attract business, and stimulate their economies; which in the long run is good for the country as a whole, but in the short run has draw backs for the workers. While the workers are being paid a higher wage then if they working off the established regional economy, they are also working in unsafe working conditions, and with to long of hours. Some solutions to this may be moving forward and expanding fair trade agreements and enforcing internationally recognized labor rights.
    Julian Dibbell, “The life of a Chinese Gold Farmer”, was very informative for me. As someone who unfortunately can’t play video games due to the fact that they make me motion sick, I had no idea how entangled the real world had gotten into these virtual games. That you could trade real world money for virtual money or goods, that people are employed to play the game with you, or for you. I thought the conditions the workers worked in were very harsh, but what was also interesting about that, is even in their free time they play the same game. It seems that gaming companies hook people when they are kids then attempt to keep them on the line when they are adults. What was most cool about this article though is how it was an example of the new jobs that are around to day, that weren’t around 10 years ago, that have risen with the internet boom.
    David Segal’s article “Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but short on Pay”, I liked the least in comparison to the other articles. As someone who works in retail, I understand that the job is designed for high turnover (generally meaning it’s filled by unskilled labor in that field), and are generally part time jobs, trying to supplement a full time student or another part time or full time job. These factors, and others, lead to lower wages. And conditions in the Apple store were good; they had generally safe working conditions, the workers aren’t excessively overworked, and they have the ability to take days off, get shifts covered by other workers or call out if they are sick, without losing their own jobs. I also was slightly skeptical about the inability to advance. Though I definitely understand the articles perspective, my experience with advancement was much different, it’s mainly the people who don’t take their jobs seriously, who don’t advance, but this might be the result of working at a different corporation. It is important though that articles that put a magnify glass to workers conditions and to companies come out, because they acting as a guard dog for our rights, and if enough people do see it as an injustice, something will be done about it.

    • acoreas12
      11:50 pm - 10-25-2012

      I was also surprised with Dibbell’s article and the idea of the virtual and real world coming together as one. I had seen these offers online through Facebook, but I never thought that behind them were real workers who were being paid to earn these coins that were later being sold to players worldwide. This concept was very shocking, but not as much as them playing the games on their free time, like you said. If these are the kinds of jobs that have been created through the advancement in technology and communication today, I wonder what new jobs await us 10-15 years from now?

  14. shill10
    11:33 am - 10-24-2012

    This week’s articles were interesting to me because I feel like many of us in the West take for granted the technologies in our everyday lives. I think it is good for us to be reminded that the products we use are important to people overseas, especially in China. In the article “Apple’s Retail Army” I was a little bit angered by the fact that Apple’s employees in American stores are so loyal, but their jobs with Apple have no future career because they are not paid very highly, and there is a ceiling where you can only rise in the positional ranks so high.
    The article Fast Boat to China also hit me, because it pointed out that the economies of the world have become so intertwined that if China’s economy falls, the United States will be greatly affected. I understand American’s frustration that so many manufacturing jobs are going overseas when Americans are in need of jobs. The idea that American’s may have to go elsewhere to receive work in the future worries me. This is a political implication for my future career life.
    Next the article about Foxconn’s factories made me question me personal use of new technologies. While I do not have a smart phone, I do use other things like my laptop. The fact that this product was sold to me for so much, but the people who made it were paid so little that they can barely meet their everyday needs, is not fair. This makes me question the morals of American society and my own morals. It is almost an “out-of-sight” issue; when we do not see how the products are affecting the employees who make them, we do not think about those people.
    Finally, the article about the gold Farmer took a different look at how technologies are creating poorly paid jobs for the people of China. I think the idea behind gold farming is cheating, but it does create jobs. The jobs do not pay well, but I guess it is some money for struggling workers.

  15. acoreas12
    12:09 pm - 10-24-2012

    I found it very interesting in the “Fast Boat to China” article Ross tried to put a “human face” to this perceived job traffic between China and the US. It was interesting to see the similarity between the migrant workers low wage and harsh condition in China as well as in the US. Regardless, where these migrants are working in the world, it seems like their situation is the same. Multinational corporations are still making an enormous amount of profit every day; sadly the workers enjoy very little of this success.

    While reading Segal’s article “Apple’s Retail Army,” I couldn’t help but think about our class discussion on the “reserve army”. I noticed that there was this common theme among the articles that the employees felt pressured to be complacent and loyal to their employers, because they saw themselves as being replaceable if they stepped out of line. Shane Garcia from the article knew the company (Apple) would easily find a replacement for him because “people will always want to work for Apple.” This of course contributes to the issue we saw in the Foxconn factories.

    In Greene’s article “Riots, suicides, and…” probably the most shocking part was towards the end regarding the nets that covered the perimeter of the building. I do not understand why they would just place them there as a way to “discourage suicide” instead of looking for the root causes, that push these employees to want to take their own lives in the first place. Maybe if they were paid enough to meet their basic needs, or saw the possibility of some type of upward mobility then they would not be so stressed and unhappy.

    The idea behind gaming as a way of life, that Dibbell discussed was mind blowing to say the least. I had no idea how much goes behind the scene of these virtual games like World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons. The fact that these “gold farmers” are making $1.25 for every 100 coins they gather throughout the game is just ridiculous. How is anyone expected to live off that kind of pay?

    Overall after reading these articles, I can’t help but be mad at these corporations that take advantage of all these people in need of employment. Even though I love my Apple products, I can’t stand knowing that people are being exploited day by day for my own consumer “needs.” Ideally it would be nice to find ways that prevent MNCs from doing this, but I feel that they are so embedded and crucial to this globalized economic system that it would be practically impossible to stop this from happening worldwide.

  16. sarahariri
    12:13 pm - 10-24-2012

    In Andrew Ross’ “Fast Boat to China,” Thomas Friedman explains his idea of a “flat world” that is run by extreme competition. This causes distrust between people of different nations and exploits social-Darwinism. No one wins in the long run. Everyone becomes desperate for work.
    In David Segal’s “Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay,” Segal explains that Apple employees are receiving substantially less pay in comparison with the revenue that they bring in for Apple.
    In Jay Greene’s “Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories,” Green describes the harsh working conditions of factory workers in Zhengzhao, Henan Province, China who produce products like iPhones and other tech gadgets. I was shocked that even a reputable name like Apple would be associated with a factory where employees are working in unsafe conditions and some are even committing suicide.
    In “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer,” Julian Dibbell explains how gaming workshops work for gamers (usually located in Europe or North America) are “buying” their way through video games such as Dungeons and Dragons for a high price in comparison to what the employees of these workshops are getting paid.
    The ethical and political implications for those of us who consume these goods, which includes much of the Western world, are extensive. These goods are taken for granted and we do not realize who is assembling our products, how are they being treated, and if we do—often times we are indifferent due to the political implications as mentioned in Ross’ article by Friedman, this is “thinly-veiled social-Darwinism.”

    • grivas3
      3:47 pm - 10-24-2012

      Great analysis on the articles it really helped me to better understand them by reading you answer and seeing the information i missed. I agree it’s interesting to know that video games are getting buy at higher price then what the worker was paid.

  17. rafae309
    12:46 pm - 10-24-2012

    I found this week’s readings to be new and somewhat surprising. I had not expected the article, The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer, to be about video games. This article enlightened me about gaming workshops, a term I had never heard before. I found it very interesting to read about the entire system, where Li would make 30 cents an hour for his boss, who would ultimately sell those coins to America and European players for way more. I had never heard of this concept before but now that I think about it, it all fits in perfectly with how players are able to buy in-game coins and gold with the use of real money. It was unbelievable to hear that the game, World of Warcraft, by Blizzard Entertainment, earned close to $1 billion a year in monthly subscriptions and other revenue. It was funny to read how this had become a system, where players would be punching in and out and playing games for twelve hours for other people. In the end, it was simple to understand: there was a global demand which had to be met and there would always be people ready to profit from that demand, and there would always be people who would be exploited for greater profit and revenue and to provide services to the Global North. In David Segal’s article, Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay, I read about the unjust allocation of pay, and reading about a manager who sold $750,000 worth of computer gadgets and devices and made only $11.25 an hour helped me understand this problem better. Labor was being exploited. What they earn for the company they work for should be compensated fairly and equally. It’s true that demand for computers and other devices such as smartphones had opened up many jobs and employment opportunities. It was weird to realize the Apple does not pay its employers any commission for sales, which would seem as exploitation to some people. In the article, Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories, I was shocked to read about the alarming rates of explosions, deaths, riots, suicides and harsh working conditions. Before reading the article I had little idea about iPhone factories behaving in such a manner. It’s unfortunate to say that it it’s out of sight, it out of mind, and the consumers rarely look at these problems and issues which other people face in developing countries just because of our demand and our rapid consumption. It would make us think and question our producers and companies who are making profits off of our demand but in the end, it would be interesting to see how many consumers actually try to make a change in their lives and switch to other products.

  18. shusain
    12:55 pm - 10-24-2012

    Starting with the article titled, “Apple’s Retail Army,” it was mainly talking about what Apple ranks in compared to how much they pay their employees. I’d have to say I’m not surprised at how low these “specialists” are getting paid compared to the work they do. I feel like most top notch companies only care about the money that’s coming in, and don’t bother with their hardworking employees. What surprised me most is how much the employees actually hated their jobs. I never really looked into the lifestyle of an Apple employee; I always thought it was cool and beneficial because of the discount they received. However, after reading the article I definitely now understand that it’s stressful and a lot of work. The recruiting section was very interesting to read also, because it seems like Apple introduces the job as being interactive, and having the employee feel a sense of “empowerment” over the customer. Kelly Jackson, a former technician for an Apple said she was happier when she quit her job than when she began stating, “When somebody left, you’d be really excited for them. It was sort of like, ‘Congratulations. You’ve done what everyone here wants to do’”. Yet, it doesn’t affect Apple at all because as one person leaves, there are a number of applicants waiting in line eager to take that position. Moving on to the next article entitled, “Riots, suicides, other issues,” my heart broke when I read about Ma’s situation. She took the job of sorting defects of iPhones that are pulled from an assembly line into a computer, and hasn’t seen her 1 year old daughter in months. She only took the job because the pay was better than anything she could find at home. In the article I was surprised to read that there have been numerous incidents at factories that make iPhones and other high-volume tech devices such as suicides, explosions, and harsh working conditions. And yet these jobs are offered wages that may be high compared with other jobs in China. It’s interesting because the author contacted Apple, who had this to say,” Apple is committed to the highest standards of social responsibility across our worldwide supply chain. We insist that all of our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever our products are made.” If that’s the case why are people committing suicide, and there are explosions occurring? This is untrue since earlier in the article it states that managers can actually have employees face cruel public ridicule that would be unthinkable in some other workplaces. The next article, “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer,” completely blew my mind. A man gets paid 30 cents an hour to play World of Warcraft? While reading the article I was amazed at Li’s work schedule which consists of working twelve hours a night, seven nights a week, with only two or three nights off per month. The wage is extremely low for a job of hunting and collecting gold coins from a video game, and those coins will be sold to Americans and Europeans at a higher cost. The working conditions are even worse. However, it goes to show that anyone who is struggling and worried for a job will take whatever they can get. This can be seen in the article titled, “Fast Boat to China” whereas it’s argued that the middle class as well as the global economy are blamed for low wages of employees. China is currently going through a period of high unemployment rates and the people are willing to work for companies that pay horrible and have terrible working conditions. I think that even though the harsh sides of these companies are being exposed, it doesn’t stop the consumer from buying the product, and it doesn’t stop a worker who is desperate for a job to take on a position in that company. I was glad to find a couple of NGO’s in China that help with labor rights in the country. It’s uplifting to know that there’s at least some type of help being offered rather than nothing.

  19. hakunanahtata
    12:55 pm - 10-24-2012

    David Segal brings up issues within apple concerning their employees in the USA. Some of the interesting facts are the lack of upward mobility within Apple and the wages paid to sales reps compared to the dollar amount of product their selling. I am a loyal Apple follower and based on Segal’s article I feel that the process they use to hire and take care of their employees is ethically concerning. I can see why they don’t pay people based on commission because they want to promote camaraderie but it doesn’t make being an Apple employee an option for long term employment. The way Apple treats its employees may be a negative implication to use their products ethically but with their mass following I don’t see people slowing their Apple product collections anytime soon. Political implications that are possible are changing policies that influence the longevity of job retainment for people/companies.
    The problems going on at Foxconn are being perpetuated similarly as the ones with Apple worker s in the USA in the sense that the people working there want to quit and there are plenty of people to take their places. Foxconn also pays more money than many jobs in China. It was surprising to me that a college student would want to work in one of these factories because it is a good opportunity compared to the alternative. There are laws in place for working standard but they are continuously broken. There are no political implications as of yet for these broken laws. Ethically it is good that there are more jobs for people to work in china and get paid above average but the fact that the standards are so low that no American would work there is disconcerting.
    In the final article about Chinese gold farmers I was very surprised. I did not expect the article to be about people being paid to get gold coins in games such as war craft. The negative ethical implications are that the “gold farmers” in china are getting paid 30cents a gold coin and there work is being sold for $20 in the states. Another disturbing fact is that these gold farmers are shut down once they are discovered and reprimanded but the same isn’t done to the purchaser out of fear of losing customers and income.

  20. ncockril
    12:56 pm - 10-24-2012

    Through the readings for this week, I would like to mainly focus on the New York Times article on Apple Store “Geniuses.” From what I read, it is clear that though Apple is just like (or even better than) any other company at pulling extreme profits out of every piece of its service structure, it is the brand image that makes all of this possible. The Apple brand creates enormous bodies of fanatics through their brilliant advertisement structure; everything is more advertising for Apple, from the “novel” way their stores work, to the design (and price) of their products, to the appreciative customers themselves that almost seem to fall over each other to fawn over iPhones. This of course does not make either their products or services not worth it- Apple adds billions of dollars into the United States’ increasingly service-and information-oriented national economy. However, it is folly to think that they are anything less than extremely well compensated, or that this customer reputation isn’t at least partially manufactured. The key to our modern world is design- many electronic devices are less innovation and more imitation, normally with perfectly fine results. Yet the iPhone has such huge following due to the sweeping advertising that goes on whenever anyone whips out their Apple product. Even though their specialists and store technicians aren’t paid nearly as much based on how much each aids the company, their marketing team must surely be. The real genius in this global world of electronics and software design is Apple. Here comes the mistake of misappropriation of values; Apple is just another company out to make a larger and larger profit. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, yet hearing about how Apple produces in China with varying human-resource costs shocked many of their customers (but not enough to stop the company’s meteoric rise). This is the misappropriation: people have begun to believe the advertising to their core, that because Apple produces such well-designed products sold by driven acolytes of the Apple vision it must be different in other ways too. Apple is not. With time, human rights abuses will probably come out just like with any other company. I currently have an iPhone, but am simply disturbed by the blind loyalty many people have towards the company that is so obviously engineering it.

    • ngibson3
      12:41 pm - 10-26-2012

      I really liked how you mentioned that apple is such an important company for the american economy. What are some other companies you would consider vital to the U.S. economy?

  21. grivas3
    12:58 pm - 10-24-2012

    The first reading I focused on was “Fast Boat to China”, the neoliberal approach to the international trade is very productive and it creates positive outcomes in the short terms. Many of the families in China go without seeing their family for months because they have to work.
    The next article I read was “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer” discussed how video games have taken over people’s lives because they spend hours playing them. Many people never grow out of this habit as they get older and continue to waste time playing video games. The article talked about a men that has a law degree, yet he spends hours playing video games. I found this article interesting because its an issue that effects many people. “Riots, Suicides, and other Issues…” this article was about Apple factory issues in China. People suffer a lot in this factories and their human rights are been violated. Families are being destroyed because parents are stuck in this factories and cannot see their childrens for months. In Segal article the issue how low wages and working in factories was discussed; it’s sad to see how people are highly effected doing this types of jobs to provide our iphones and other devices.

  22. tmarchan
    12:58 pm - 10-24-2012

    The most interesting thing I found from Segal’s article is the fact that there is a ceiling, not a glass ceiling that prevents Apple employees from moving up. This is not a glass ceiling because the employees could see it. They are employed and stay in the same position for years with no promotion and a small increase in pay (if any). Apple hires workers in their early to mid-20s because they are the cheapest to employ. The Dibbell article really shocked me because I had no idea that there was such a thing as “gold farmers”. These gold farmers are “playing games” but they are working not having fun. What also stuck to me is that these gold farmers in China are only making 30 cents an hour and work 12 hours shifts 7 days a week! What I found interesting about the Greene article is that although people know about the harsh conditions at the Foxconn they still line up for an interview because of the extreme need for a job. What I found interesting in Andrew Ross’s article is that foreign investors in the labor-intensive export sector only want to hire teenage girls because they are cheapest, most pliable, and most expendable members of the work force.
    I feel that as American consumers, a lot of us are not really informed about the harsh conditions going on in the factories in China or the pay of the employees of the goods and services we demand are receiving. I think that our government officials and the media should inform the public about what is going on. Maybe there will be more people that will stand up for the workers undergoing harsh conditions. A lot of us have the mentality that one person cannot make a difference but if we join together we can stand up against these conditions.

    • acoreas12
      1:01 am - 10-26-2012

      I completely agree with you in that as consumers, we are not as informed as we should be about the terrible working conditions and pay foreign workers face everyday in these factories. However, I believe this disconnect between the manufacturers/producers to consumers is not accidental. Big corporations benefit from keeping these issues under-wrap so people keep buying their products without feeling bad, but I agree with you that if more people took a stand then we could push for change that would stop these cases from happening worldwide.

  23. njelvani
    1:01 pm - 10-24-2012

    The “Fast Boat to China,” by Andrew Ross talks about globalization in the context of industrialization and the consequences of U.S. reliance on outsourcing in China. The consequences are employing severe amounts of pressure and competitiveness in supplying the most marketable and in demand commodities. Eventually the fear is that it will all collapse and backfire.
    David Segal’s “Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay,” suggests that the working for Apple is promising and will allow instant advancements in status and position in the corporate world, if one is committed and passionate about their job, but this is at the cost of one’s own life, peace of mind, and freedom to spend time as you prefer. “three minutes late”, that is not control. It is suggesting the U.S. is a workaholic nation that encourages stimulation of the “genius” without any stop to the injustice of a human’s ethical and moral duties.
    Jay Greene’s “Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories,” suggests that the effects of harsh and severe working conditions of the labor force as a whole is drawing recent concern because it may not be replaceable if they are oppressed and overworked. They are sacrificing their families and their own lives, as well as emotional investment, which is not self- directed. It is directed by the corporate policy makers and owners.
    “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer,” by Julian Dibbell suggests that the gaming industry seems all fair and free, but it too is causing psychological problems and addictions in children’s psyches an. The stimulations drive the economy and the problems are initiated with a system of reward at a high price. The markets and labor for do not necessarily decide who purchases these commodities and there is a bitter taste from both ends of the spectrum.

  24. ender91
    1:05 pm - 10-24-2012

    In CNET’s article Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn’s iPhone factories, most of Foxconn factory workers are forced to spend most of their money on paying for the dormitories they live in which puts them far away from their families. Most of them work so they can send money to their families but their wages are not enough to even cover the cost of their own living so they are forced to work overtime. Apple says they are “committed to the highest standards of social responsibility,” but Foxconn, who they are in a contract with, solved the escalating suicide rates in their factory just by putting nets around the buildings. Is that solution on par with the highest standard of social responsibility? In the book excerpt Fast Boat to China, the author emphasizes how China only seems to reap lots of benefits on the surface because in reality free trade has negatively affected it too. Workers from other countries have lost their jobs to China but Chinese workers are also on tenterhooks because they can also lose their jobs at anytime. Then in the New York Times article, Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but short on pay, its interesting how Apple store employees earn about $25,000 a year when one sales person can sell $750,000 of Apple products. I actually thought they would earn a lot more seeing as a macbook costs more than $1000 and Apple earns the highest profit among U.S. retailers. The last article I read was The Life of the CHinese Gold Farmer about video games. I did not know a gamer can actually buy those gold coins on video games. Is that allowed? Its interesting how video games have changed both consumers and workers. Consumers or the players aren’t totally cut off from the real world because they actually bring the real word in by paying for the gold coins and then workers find new kinds of jobs through these video games like the gold farmers. Nowadays, corporations are utilizing those marxists ideas that were presented about capitalism. I think both laborers and consumers are at disadvantages in this situation. Laborers are trapped because of low job security and cheap wages while consumers become even more addicted to the products and will pay a lot just to own them.

    • rafae309
      4:23 pm - 10-26-2012

      Very interesting and insightful! I agree about the Apple wages because I also had previously thought they would make a lot more since the prices of the products they were selling were quite high. It’s also sad to say the laborers are indeed trapped while the consumers seem to want more and more of things they don’t really need.

  25. navery
    2:34 pm - 10-24-2012

    “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer” is an article that surprised. I didn’t expect the article to talk about online games. From former experience, I know that many online games use their form of currency that sometimes cross over to our own. It was interesting to learn that people are actually hired in order to grind and farm for this online money.

    With the article discussing apple employees and their occupations, I saw that there was a much different perspective. Prior to reading this article I didn’t know that apple had kept the training of their employees so uniform and unique. The excerpt on mandatory clapping made me lift an eyebrow. I also thought it was interesting that Apple had caught onto the idea that people will work harder for less money or forgo the money altogether if they believe they’re working for a higher cause.

    From all the readings I find it interesting that the requirements for so many jobs can be seen as strange, or perhaps even unnecessary. A lot of the people hired to powerful companies are paid small amounts of money in order to feed their families. I feel these articles highlighted the wide variety of jobs companies offer to get money such as “gold mining” and the conditions employees must endure in order to be paid. Although not every job is like apple’s, there are many employees that must go through worse conditions and requirements as shown in the other articles. It would be a shame to keep buying their products and perpertuate the law pay and the conditions; but so many of the products they offer are very difficult to avoid buying, or have become such a large part of our life. I believe people should ethically try to avoid companies that treat their employees with less than good conditions, but sometimes its hard to avoid this. For this reason, there should be more awareness about companies and the origins of products and a larger effort made to make better jobs with more competing products.

  26. hsingh4
    3:07 pm - 10-24-2012

    In the article, “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer”, I found it amazing that not only do they have workers dedicated to earning in-game gold to sell to other people, but they also have firms that will “farm” the gold for you for a fee, so that you won’t get banned. I have actually played World of Warcraft before, but I found it very boring and ridiculous that it requires a monthly fee of $15. What the article describes does amaze me, yet it does not surprise me. Video games are a massive industry and people are willing to pay money for almost anything that will help them in the game.
    In the Foxconn article, what really struck me was this quote: “The employees always say the people outside want a job,” one employee told me in an interview, “and the people inside want to quit.” I did however find it very interesting that the Apple plant pays more than other companies there.
    Switching to the article “Apple’s Retail, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay”, it discusses the American side of the issue. He describes how employees of Apple stores in the United States face the same dissatisfaction with their jobs. He talked about Jordan Golson who sold about $750,000 worth of gadgets yet he was earning only $11.25 an hour.
    In “Fast Boat to China, the argument is made that growth of the global economy and the middle class create the problem of outsourcing. He mentions that China is the perfect place for companies to settle down because there are so many workers willing to work for a low wage.

  27. shanaz
    10:45 am - 10-26-2012

    I was completely oblivious to Chinese gold farmers. I expected these farmers to be people who had no access to education and could not provide for their family with other skills and/or jobs. Once I finished reading “The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer,” I was shocked to learn that some of these Chinese gold farmers were actually college students. As a college student, it’s hard to and quite scary to think that after spending 4 or more years on a degree that it only lands me a job where I don’t use my skills and make much less than I can with my degree.
    The next piece I read was the “Apple Retail Army” which brings to light Apples strategies to make as much profit as possible. At first, I felt quite guilty reading this article and “Riots, Suicides, and other issues…” because I own both an Apple Mac and an Apple iPhone. I thought to myself, okay I should return or sell this and stop using these products. However, even if I were to get a huge group to protest with me by not using these products, it would hurt Apple’s profit which would hurt the US economy which in return would hurt everyone else here. It doesn’t seem too easy to just quit something that everyone is using and depending on.

    • shusain
      11:59 am - 10-26-2012

      The conclusion you came up with at the end of your post made me realize it’s definitely a win or lose situation. And because I feel like Apple offers some of the best uses of technology, it’s hard to kind of push those things away. Also, I like how you analyzed the “Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer,” because it’s a sad realization that these days it is really hard to find a job in a field that you’ve worked hard to get into.

    • rafae309
      4:26 pm - 10-26-2012

      Good post! I was also agree being completely blind to the existence of these gamers and gold farmers. In addition, I also agree that no matter how many products we stop using or return, or even gather a big group to stop buying, it will not really affect Apple’s or any other major company’s revenue unless the entire market system shifts to an alternative or a substitute.

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