Ethics

I just read an article about working conditions at Apple factories in China. Apparently workers at Apple’s major supplier in China “‘have needlessly suffered lifelong injuries, and even died from avoidable tragedies, including suicides, explosions and exhaustion from 30- to 60-hour shifts.’ . . . Others have suffered from exposure to chemical toxins. The manufacturing plants . . . are sweatshops of the worst sort, relying heavily on child labor and rampant violation of basic labor rights. The working conditions are truly horrendous and brutal.”

The AFL-CIO is up in arms. I could be up in arms, too. While I encourage child labor, one should treat them well. Still, what ought I do because of “reports of some workers suffering repetitive motion injuries that caused them to permanently lose use of their hands” and split needlessly an infinitive?

I’m real sorry about their hands, but as I keyboard this on my Mac and periodically rejoice in never having to experience the agony of Windows™, repetitive motion injuries seem an inevitable consequence of using people as machines. It’s part of the deal we’ve made with capitalism. I’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome for years, and the whole time it took me to develop it I knew there was something wrong with sitting there like that all the fucking time holding my hands just so. I wanted the money, though, so I did it and still do now and I wear my wrist braces when I must. I’m glad it’s not black lung.

When I worked for the B&O railroad I walked alongside many a tank car and hopper that leaked something I didn’t recognize. I realized once when some liquid splashed onto my cheek that I was responsible for that happening, that no matter what it turned out to be, if it ate my face off or not, it was on me because I chose to be there for money.

And the poor Chinese people, many of them women and children, I suppose, who get eight bucks for an iPad do it for the eight bucks. That’s what eight bucks will buy over there. I don’t see how to change that from my worktable. I could find a way to protest—I think I signed an online petition—but there’s no way I’m gonna settle for anybody’s Windows™ machine because of who got shafted getting Lion to my desktop. I would be annoyed most of the time, and that’s no way to increase the love and peace in the world, which is what interests me most.

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