We live together in a time of unique volatility. It seems this is the first time in history we have advanced technologically to the extent that we have the capacity to wipe out the face of Earth. Not only do we have nuclear arms in ready-to-launch systems across the world, but also the machines in place now to be employed and deployed for environmental degradation. This is what you have happening in Brazil with the destruction of our great rainforest.
“What do you mean, ‘our’ rainforest, we aren’t Brazilian!”
Because I believe firmly in the fact of our condition as humans: interconnectedness. To Brazil, Apple recently moved its production of the latest iPhone 4S. This, I had hoped would be an improvement upon the conditions of Chinese labor and practices, but of course not. There is no way for Apple to profit as much as they do, to the tune $100 billion more than any other tech company including Microsoft, without exploiting developing nations that are willing to whore out their indigenous citizens, just as we Americans did through the 19th century. Brazil must attract manufacturing interest by promising an abundance of electric grids to plug in to. And perhaps that wouldn’t be necessary if Wall Street and the banks could accept a fair and balanced profit margin. And perhaps that wouldn’t be necessary if we were not so maladroit in our relationship to business and sustainability. And perhaps that wouldn’t be necessary if we were actively involved with each other and the practices of our employers.
“I work for a fortune 500 company, I receive benefits and my family is stable. I don’t know anything about business or foreign human rights issues, why would I open my big mouth?”
Why you should be more involved with the decisions of your company relates to your job security. Our manufacturing has been displaced while executive salaries skyrocket. You are expendable if someone can do it cheaper. You shouldn’t be afraid of the argument that the iPhone would skyrocket in cost and you may not be able to afford it if they didn’t outsource manufacturing. If you look at the bonus packages and salaries to executives following profit-raising outsourcing choices, you will realize that jobs are scarce only due to the unquenchable thirst for profit that your banks, stockbrokers, and employers hold against you. If you held stock in the company, you would have more voice and money. But instead, where did you money go to last week?
We see photos like the one above and react emotionally.
“That Goddamned Brazilian government, how dare they!”
“Those poor tribes, how sad .”
“No government should get away with that! No people should tolerate such barbaric practice! We have done away with this kind of bullshit in America for so long…”
Our temporary emotional response on Facebook is no solution and does nothing to understand how this is happening. It is definitely worthwhile that we are aware of it. And the reason we have done away with such barbaric practices is that the work has already been done. Our consciousness for it is merely the natural reaction of harsh memories. We were going through industrial revolution once too. During that time, the great United States displaced millions of indigenous people and totally disregarded their natural way of life, a way that had evolved in to a sophisticated pattern of trade and innovation balancing social norms with natural forces. Remember the Mayans? So what we have to do now, in America, is relate back to ourselves through the companies we support with our purchases and seek employment with. Maybe we can tweet about more compelling things than puppies and sex, from time to time. Maybe our vulgar self-promotion isn’t the best way to utilize modern tools. Maybe instead of having an emotional response and letting the issue go — scarring your heart with self-desertion in to depression — we can learn to explore the issue and discuss these things on Facebook.
I love my iPhone and I want that new 4S. It is an imperative tool to my professional line of work. But it is quite possible that facilities like Foxconn who manufacture these devices don’t need to exist. Why can’t manufacturing happen in Cupertino? Everybody is losing right now. How are we going to reverse this?