|Coerced... to wear these crappy blue hats!|
I can imagine many an advocate of liberty drawing the line when it comes to having multibillion-dollar companies like Apple paying dirt-cheap wages to workers in China, who have to cope with hazardous, horrendous working conditions.
Yet one’s lamentation of the situation should not equate to more regulations and restrictions on employers.
My suspicion is that these reports are in line with US congressmen’s push for protectionistic ‘Made in America’ or anti-BPO legislation such as US House Bill 3596. But let’s focus on the issue of worker ‘exploitation,’ and whether government intervention would indeed save poor laborers from their ‘bondage.’
VOLUNTARY LABOR IS NOT SLAVERY
We have to distinguish between slavery, which entails forced detention and bodily threats, to voluntary labor, even if the latter involves very unfavorable conditions. My understanding of the situation is that Apple’s China workers, dealing with next-to-nothing paychecks, have no other options available to them. Whatever growth China has experienced has not been fast enough to undo the shit that Mao’s and Mao-like policies have wreaked on the population.
So if Apple were prohibited from hiring in the area, or were coerced via regulations to pay above-market wages and increase safety measures, these workers would be left jobless, or less of them accommodated. The current situation may not be pretty, but the consequences of intervention would be worse.
REFUSE TO BUY
Okay that is it, I am not going to buy this
overpriced crap. Not that I ever planned to.
Even as Apple should be free to hire wherever they want and offer very limited benefits, this does not mean that their customer base or people in general won’t be appalled enough to stage a boycott (if the reports are true, that is).
Heck, although iPads, iPhones and iPods are not ‘sulit’ for me to begin with, knowing about how such products are made may give me more reason not to support Steve Jobs’ creations.
It’s like how people can refuse to buy fur coats, knowing that animals are bludgeoned to death to make them. Or with diamonds, which are often the product of what would be correctly considered as (government-perpetuated) slavery.
IF GOVERNMENT CAN KILL FOR ‘MORALS,’ WHY NOT ANYBODY?
By preventing the hiring of cheap labor from abroad, the cost of everything goes up, and this makes for poorer living standards in general, which further delays whatever improvement in living conditions can be hoped for by poor workers.
The overall adverse long-term consequences of government intervention may not be apparent, but the effects are definite. Once you start conceding this or that for the government to step in, there’s no limit as to the expansion of the state, and the long term is given up altogether.
WHAT IF EVERYONE PLAYED HERO LIKE THE GOVERNMENT?
And why stop at coercion via government law? If coercion is to be accepted on a ‘moral’ basis (even as the initiation of violence is antithetical to morals), what is left to stop just any random citizen from shooting anyone who refuses to pay for another’s medicine/tuition/subsidy? Why not murder anyone who is unable to pay higher wages? Why not torture someone who refuses to sell something at a lower price?
Alas, the acceptance of government in any part of human affairs is a step backwards for peaceful civilization. As ‘obvious’ or tempting as it is to seek government to remedy lamentable situations, some ‘cold’ analysis may be necessary to prevent meddling from making things worse.