What is the expenditure in human life and quality to provide us with the American dream? I’d like to recommend Steven Musil’s article “Putting a human cost on the iPad” over at CNET. This post is based on a much more extensive investigative report just released by Charles Duhigg and David Barboza over at the New York Times. If you want the short version – see Musil’s article, for all the gory details see Duhigg and Barboza’s article.
Both look at the topic of working conditions in the factories that produce much of our technological gadgets (and this extends far beyond Apple‘s iPad including also devices by companies such as HP and Dell). Child labor, unsanitary working conditions, slavish hours, and explosions that have cost lives are some of the issues currently coming to the surface within these factories.
I’m not suggesting folks who own an iPad are bad…I’ve owned or do own products by Apple, HP, Dell, and so on. What I am saying is that now that the issue has been raised we need to bring it more to the front of our consciousness and advocate on behalf of the oppressed. I’m glad Apple has taken some steps in the right direction – but pressure needs to continue, and not just on Apple.
In the Scriptures James tells us (5:1-6), “1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.” (New American Standard Bible)
We do not directly profit (at least most of us) from exploitation, but we oftentimes indirectly benefit from it. I am challenged and humbled to consider that this passage addresses us. “You have lived luxuriously on the earth…” Ouch. That hits a little too close to home when I think about someone dying to bring me a “more affordable” electronic device.