Shortly after Steve Jobs’ death hit the news, I caught an early morning round table discussion with Mike Daisey. He is funny! But, as he talked about his latest one-man show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I was really hooked by his delight in shocking those members of his audience from Apple who outsource their product to factories in China.
“[The Agony And The Ecstasy] follows the standard line: Jobs was a combination of awesome visionary and ruthless businessman. He doesn’t tell us anything that we haven’t gleaned from Jobs’s obituaries, but that isn’t the point. The point is to ask us why we are not more troubled by the fact that our indispensable gadgets are assembled in part by children.” [The Financial Times review]
Surprisingly, I couldn’t google up a video of Daisey’s monologue – except one in which 87 members of a Christian advocacy group staged a walk out. But, I did find a Vimeo clip from Dream Work China, a documentary made by three Italian journalists who opened a photo shop across from the Shenzhen Foxconn factory [see video below]. They captured interviews with factory workers that represent the dreams of the millions of young Chinese migrant workers who leave their homes and families and travel long distances to work in factories – like Foxconn just across the street. Probably most disturbing are the scenes of dormitories with packed balconies overlooking the nets hung below as a painful memory of the suicides.
About a year before his death, the Daily Mail quoted Jobs as defending the conditions at Foxconn:
‘You go in this place and it’s a factory but, my gosh, they’ve got restaurants and movie theatres and hospitals and swimming pools. For a factory, it’s pretty nice,’ he said.
Jobs has been extremely outspoken about the need for his employees to be passionate about the products they create. To bad this desire to inspire others and the understanding of the need for a creative and meaningful life didn’t trickle down. Then again, this is the same man who, according to his official biography hitting the bookstores Monday, personally complained to President Obama that regulations on business are too tough to build factories here. And, was frustrated that Obama was so focused on trying to understand why things happen.
“In the suburbs of Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, young workers talk about their lives, existences built on a precarious balance between hope, struggles and wishes for the future. Around them activists and NGOs strive to give sense and meaning to words like rights, dignity and equity.”
Visit the Dream Work China for more information
Here’s an hour long interview with Mike Daisey from CSpan