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Can You Buy Tech With a Clean Conscience? 412

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-amoled-screens-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-post dept.
Barence writes "Is it even possible to buy technology with a clean conscience? With the vast majority of gadgets and components manufactured using low-paid labor in Asia, manufacturers unable to accurately plot their supply chains, and very few ethical codes of conduct, the article highlights the difficulty of trying to buy ethically-sound gadgets. It concludes, 'The answer would appear to be no. Too little information is available, and nobody we spoke to believed an entirely ethical technology company exists – at least, not among the household names.'"
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Can You Buy Tech With a Clean Conscience?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:24PM (#40121359)

    For example, if you care about preserving the right of the public to control their own computers, you're going to stay away from Apple and maybe from Android.

    If you care about working conditions of workers in factories, you'll stay away from some of the low end suppliers.

    If you care about privacy, you will stay away from Facebook.

    And so on. Just because there are problems everywhere does not make everything the same.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @02:26PM (#40122205)

      Can I buy a piece of tech that was not assembled by an Asian Worker making considerably less than his American Union Factory Worker counterpart? No.

      Can I buy a piece of tech and still have a clean conscience? Sure. Of course.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DAldredge (2353)
        My Lumia 900 was built in South Korea. My RAM in the US My Processor in the US. It is possible.
      • by pla (258480) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @09:42PM (#40125085) Journal
        Can I buy a piece of tech that was not assembled by an Asian Worker making considerably less than his American Union Factory Worker counterpart?

        Can I buy a piece of American tech guaranteed as "union free", such that no overpriced $30/hr loading dock workers or longshoremen or even office workers, had anything to do with it?

        No? Okay then. Chinese children will suffice.


        More seriously, TFA has a major failure in one of its assumptions - That most people care enough to feel bad. Yes, I would rather buy from someone making a living wage in my own country, and might pay a bit more for it; No, I won't pay 3x as much for it. And no, that doesn't really bother me.
    • by flyneye (84093) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @02:55PM (#40122417) Homepage

      In fact, to expound on "problems everywhere", if we weren't buying tech, they wouldn't be making tech and would be much worse off with no work at all.
      Just because Charlie Chaplin ate shoe leather in a movie, doesn't mean the "socially conscious" have a right to demand that third world and Asian countries should dismantle what little work they have available. Does being "green" have to mean "Soylent Green"?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Android itself doesn't wall you in, you are free to install what apps you like and no hacks are required for rooting (basically just install the su app). It is the phone manufacturers and networks that lock down bootloaders and the like, but you can always get a Google Nexus phone.

    • Tradeoffs = Life.
      People don't seem to understand this. For every choice and action you do there is a tradeoff. If you want tech that is High quality, and made under your ideals of working conditions be prepared to pay a lot more (say $1,500 for an iPhone like device), If you do pay that price then you spent that money on a phone where you could have used it to shop at a local store and support your local economy, or give it to a charity... Tradeoffs.

      There are always going to be problems in the world, the

      • by Eskarel (565631) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @10:23PM (#40125323)

        About 80% of the price of an iPhone, even in the US where they're cheaper than most places, is pure profit for Apple. That's not 20% of the cost to manufacturing it's 20% of the cost to manufacture, package, market, ship, and sell. Apple can afford to pay living wages(or at least treat their employees like human beings instead of slaves) and still make a healthy profit.

        Unfortunately somewhere in the last couple of hundred years we've lost our moral compass when it comes to money. At present we seem to live in a society where if it's not illegal then it's just fine to do it whatever the costs or consequences and if it is illegal you buy off some politicians to change the law.

        This is why we need so much legislation these days because business seems to have become incapable of making moral decisions, if we don't outlaw it and require them to fill in huge amounts of wasteful paperwork to prove they aren't doing it, they'll continue to do it.

        Apple is a purely immoral company, in every possible way. They pay the people who make their stuff nothing and those people are treated like something less than human(I'm not talking about any of the accidents, I'm talking about the story straight from an Apple exec of waking the entire factory crew up in the middle of the night to redo the iPad screens). On the other end they gouge consumers and restrict their freedom above and beyond what is justifiable. All in the name of profit at any consequence, and it's become rampant in our society. Society will not survive this continued concentration of all wealth into the hands of a small minority.

  • I'm fine with that (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure laborers in Asia prefer low wage over no wage.

    • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:46PM (#40121523)

      "I'm sure laborers in Asia prefer low wage over no wage."

      That's how the West built its industry and we'd do well to remember that.

      When goods cost too much to buy people can't afford to buy them so the people who make them can't SELL them and therefore can't CONTINUE making them.

      Almost all Asian industry is YOUNG (and I'm not talking from a Gary Glitter perspective!). China is advancing MUCH faster than did the US over the same amount of time.

      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:05PM (#40121661)

        Oh bullcrap. The west built it's industry through the industrial revolution - machines increasing productivity.

        Yes the industrial revolution gave them the economic power to build empires, but if your society doesn't have a competitive economic system, well it's going to be a backwater.

        Japan got smart and bought into the new ways, and China is moving along that path now.

        It's a choice people have to make if they want it.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:25PM (#40121843) Journal

          Oh bullcrap. The west built it's industry through the industrial revolution - machines increasing productivity.

          You might want to check the history of the industrial revolution a bit more carefully. Worker conditions in Foxconn factories look like paradise in comparison to conditions in England back then.

          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @12:40AM (#40126127) Journal

            You might want to check the history of the industrial revolution a bit more carefully. Worker conditions in Foxconn factories look like paradise in comparison to conditions in England back then.

            It doesn't mean that such conditions are a necessary part of the industrial revolution. Back then, it was the best anyone offered anywhere in the world. I'd like to think that we have advanced since then, and things that were okay then are no longer okay today.

        • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:57PM (#40122043) Homepage

          Oh bullcrap. The west built it's industry through the industrial revolution - machines increasing productivity.

          Okay, you're ignorant. No way around it, you're simply ignorant.

          In the last 400 years when north america was settled and went through the industrial revolution, europe shoveled off all of their 'heavy' industry here to the americas. In Canada in particular back int he 1700's they would pay children to work in the mills, to make wagon wheels. These would then be subsidized by the crown and sent back to england at less than cost to undercut the industry there to send more of it over here. The dutch did it, the french did it, the germans did it, every-single-one of them did it. And that's one example of many.

          We were a backwater still 180-200 years ago. And they were still shipping their medium and heavy industry off to here. The difference between Japan and us was? We bombed the shit out of them, and fully rebuilt their economy. They were already working to be fully industrialized and on par with the west even during the Boshin war. [wikipedia.org] Which slowed things down a bit.

      • by jythie (914043) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:06PM (#40121665)
        True, they have 'part 1' of that process down, but it is questionable if China will be able to make the transition from 'fast growing with essentially slave labor' to 'stable well rounded economy'. We managed to transition because of labor unions and public outrage... but we also have a system of elections (so public outrage can effect who gets elected) and, while there were abuses, we have pretty strict rules about retaliation against dissidents.

        China, on the other hand, has no elections (the vast majority of the wealth generated so far is in the hands of party officials and their family) and the country has a history of brutally cracking down on dissident voices.

        So in the US we had a good incremental mechanism for transitioning. In China it would require the dismantling of their government, probably via violent revolution, which has a way of undoing economic gains.
        • by vakuona (788200)

          China is growing old fast. Which means workers are going to be in short supply soon. Which is good for workers.

          China has had a surfeit of workers, and thus workers were competing for jobs. It's likely to be the other way soon.

        • by couchslug (175151)

          "We managed to transition because of labor unions and public outrage... but we also have a system of elections (so public outrage can effect who gets elected) and, while there were abuses, we have pretty strict rules about retaliation against dissidents."

          Getting there required VIOLENT protest. Read US labor history. There was plenty of "retaliation" including murder of strikers by Pinkerton thugs.

          What the US does have is the Second Amendment, and gunfire met gunfire more than once.

          Don't EVER forget that the

      • by poity (465672)

        But do those in the West reflect on their industrial past and tell themselves that it was a necessary step or that it was an era of shame? Because the issues here are issues of morality, consistency is vital. If when Westerners of today look on their past, and accept the sweatshops, union-busting, child labor, and hazardous conditions as unavoidable and necessary events in the course of progress, then accepting what is happening in China today is consistent with their morality. But if when Westerners of tod

        • Are those mutually exclusive options? The industrial revolution resulted in a lot of reforms in the UK, including the beginnings of the process that ended with universal suffrage. It was also a time when the poor were exploited and oppressed, although this time by the upper middle classes rather than (or, more accurately, as well as) the aristocracy. Given the end results, I think most of us living in the countries that benefitted from this process are glad that it did, as well as being glad that we can
    • by poity (465672) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:52PM (#40121565)

      When /. discusses labor and wage issues in the US (unions, living wage, income inequality), the common sentiment is that executives/owners/investors can afford to give up more of their profits to help ensure a more livable life for their workers.

      When /. discusses labor and wage issues in China (again, labor rights, wages, inequality), we rarely if ever touch on the above line of reasoning, and the common sentiment is that it's better for them to be paid meagerly than to be out of a job.

      There is a palpable moral double standard.

      • >the common sentiment is that executives/owners/investors can afford to give up more of their profits to help ensure a more livable life for their workers.

        The problem with that statement is that it isn't necessarily true. Look at what Eton Musk is doing with his profits. Are you sure that letting him keep more of his profits wouldn't be better in the long run?

        • by DogDude (805747)
          In many cases, the personal expenses, alone, of the top executives/owners/investors distributed among the employees would make a tremendous difference. Nobody, business owners or not, seem to see anything wrong with a few people living in absurd opulence while employees are making minimum wage. It's morally wrong, but everybody thinks they're going to be Elon Musk one day, so they buy in. It's pretty disgusting when you look at it with some reasonable perspective.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:14PM (#40121735)

        in the US ... executives/owners/investors can afford to give up more of their profits to help ensure a more livable life for their workers.
        in China ... it's better for them to be paid meagerly than to be out of a job.

        I don't think the double standard is as palpable as you think. The difference is that US labor market has deteriorated to change the ratio of worker/executive compensation from a difference of 50-100X a few decades ago to 1000X. Hence reversing the trend would be good. In China, however, the measly wages paid by Apple, etc. constitute an improvement of worker life.
        This is not to say that all is well, but the two situations are different, IMHO, in that US has gone from good to bad and China is going from very bad to somewhat bad (and I've heard arguments that you can't simply go from very bad to good in a large country without taking at least a decade or two).

        • by poity (465672)

          How would you factor in Chinese factory owners becoming overnight millionaires (in dollar terms!) while factory workers are stuck at around 1200RMB/month, often working overtime without legally required overtime pay? Isn't this the same inequality that we at /. abhor? How is it that we can write excuses for Chinese companies that would never get past -1 moderation when speaking in defense of US conditions?

    • by The Good Reverend (84440) <.michael. .at. .michris.com.> on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:22PM (#40121807) Homepage Journal

      The exact same argument was used to justify continuing slavery - "slaves are better off with the food and housing their masters provide them - setting them free would be cruel".

  • by jesseck (942036)
    And I do.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The summary's grasp on ethics seems a little shakey to me. Those low paid workers in Asia are damn glad to have the job, and what they do get paid goes a lot further than in the west. This is a process of enrichment, whereby poor countries in the far east get wealthier, develop a middle class, and start demanding democracy, resulting in not only a greatly enhanced standard of living but new markets for western countries as well as fresh innovations and freedom of choice.

      Capitalism. It works.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        The summary's grasp on ethics seems a little shakey to me. Those low paid workers in Asia are damn glad to have the job, and what they do get paid goes a lot further than in the west. This is a process of enrichment, whereby poor countries in the far east get wealthier, develop a middle class, and start demanding democracy, resulting in not only a greatly enhanced standard of living but new markets for western countries as well as fresh innovations and freedom of choice.

        Capitalism. It works.

        Your argument is a bit like the slave owners who stated that their slaves were damn glad to have their job and get fed, too. Exploitation is exploitation, regardless if one can find some good to come from it or not.

        • by the_B0fh (208483)

          You are a fucking idiot if you think US$1 is worth the same, in living standards, in China.

          • Where did he say $1 was worth the same in living standards?
        • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:34PM (#40121901) Homepage Journal
          This shit gets insightful? Slaves are... slaves. You could rape them, beat them, kill them, in fact you could do anything you damned well pleased to them. As bad as the lives of Chinese peasants are, and as bad as the lives of Chinese factory workers are (hint: it's a lot better than being a peasant), they're almost unimaginably better than the lives of actual slaves.

          By the way, the argument usually advanced was that the Negro was too foolish to provide properly for himself, and that servitude allowed him to contribute to the well-being of mankind while still enjoying the benefits of Christianity and white management. And, of course, in real life there were limitations on how badly slaves could be treated. For starters, they were expensive, equivalent (last I looked) to about $100k apiece today plus the cost of feeding and housing. You don't want to mistreat your capital investment like that, any more than you would run your family-owned factory without maintenance. The great evil of slavery wasn't that the slaves were badly treated (many were, but the lives of poor whites were not much better); it was that they were slaves.
      • by jythie (914043)
        They are unlikely to start 'demanding democracy'. The people actually getting rich are already party members (anyone who develops wealth outside the party is either invited in, or taken down), and unlike here protest is illegal there so demonstrations get cracked down on. So there is no incremental mechanism.

        The whole theory you are running off of was something developed by neocon think tanks in the US to justify a position of non interference and economic interaction with China... if you talk to actual
      • by cdp0 (1979036)

        Capitalism. It works.

        Where? To whose benefit?

    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      Seriously. I may be privileged because of where I was born(first world and all that nonsense), but it is what it is. I live my life to be happy. I don't live my life to worry about everyone else's happiness.
  • We are still finding flakes from the first flint knives made. So it is not really tech. It is anything a creature does creates waste. It is almost like it was a law of thermodynamics or something like that. The problem is when there are to many of us creating to much waste.

    • by plopez (54068)

      And what type of waste. Flint is innocuous. Heavy metals from discarded electronics isn't. Personally I try, I am dependent on tech for my livelihood, by hanging on to gear as long as it will work and then try to find an ethical recycler.

  • You'll probably end up in cabin (oh but a cabin made of wood? that's deforestation) eating what you're trying to plant and raise (trying, because fertilizers come from cattle raising: bad or petroleum: bad and no herbicides)

  • Everything (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#40121409) Homepage Journal

    Tell me, what can you do with a clean conscience? Can you eat meat you buy from the store? Or even produce for that matter? Can you flip on the light switch in your home and consume electricity? Start your car? Wax philosophical all you want, but life is inherently unfair, whether within a species, or amongst species. Sure, many things can be improved, but you'll be afraid to take a step lest you kill an ant if you delve too deep here.

    • by Wansu (846)

      Amen. It's either buy or do without.

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:58PM (#40121605)

      Yes, the only ethical thing to do is to die. As soon as possible.

    • by arcite (661011)

      Can you eat meat from a store? I can buy locally produced organic meat. I can also eat meat two times a week, instead of every day.

      Produce? I can have a garden, or again, buy local.

      Flip on a light switch? I can buy energy efficient light bulbs that use a fraction of the electricity and last for decades.

      Electricity? I can install solar panels, or even buy more energy efficient appliances and electric monitors to lessen electric use.

      Start your car? This one is easy, I can use a bicycle, live closer to

      • Flip on a light switch? I can buy energy efficient light bulbs that use a fraction of the electricity and last for decades.

        Electricity? I can install solar panels, or even buy more energy efficient appliances and electric monitors to lessen electric use.


        Yes, those 'help', but the hardware comes out of the same factories, with the same ethics, as most other electronics. So the problem is reduced, but not eliminated.
      • Produce? I can have a garden, or again, buy local.

        Why would you buy local (assuming it is not cheaper)?

        Please see http://www.mises.org/books/defending.pdf [mises.org] , chapter 23 - The Importer

        Importers make the economy grow.

    • Re:Everything (Score:5, Insightful)

      by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:04PM (#40121655)

      Tell me, what can you do with a clean conscience? Can you eat meat you buy from the store? Or even produce for that matter? Can you flip on the light switch in your home and consume electricity? Start your car? Wax philosophical all you want, but life is inherently unfair...

      Actually, when I go to the store, I can buy produce (or meat) from local farmers--or I can go to the farmers market, subscribe to a CSA, grow it myself, or use any of various alternatives that will allow me to know more about the product. At the very least, I can buy according to some legislated standards (e.g., USDA Organic) that I am OK with. Similarly, instead of starting my car (which I definitely do NOT do with a clean conscience), I can walk or bike. I can use renewable energy instead of coal for the lights, and I can use LEDs or other efficient illuminators.

      I think you have a point, but I think tech is different because, short of not buying it at all, you don't really have these alternatives--at least according to this article.

    • by smpoole7 (1467717)

      > Tell me, what can you do with a clean conscience?

      Precisely. There is no cut and dried, absolute way to know for sure if what you're buying came from a "righteous" source. Not that many years ago, if you bought vegetables, many were harvested by badly-abused migrant workers. Before that, if you bought anything made of iron or steel, it was produced by people who were forced to work in horrible conditions where many died. The coal that was mined to create the steel resulted in the deaths of countless min

    • by JustOK (667959)

      Tell me, what can you do with a clean conscience?

      Get it nice and dirty again.

    • Tell me, what can you do with a clean conscience? Can you eat meat you buy from the store? Or even produce for that matter? Can you flip on the light switch in your home and consume electricity? Start your car?

      As a general point, if those things bother you, you really ought to be careful the next time that you make fun of snake handlers. You're just as fastidious in religious observation as they are.

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:32PM (#40121429) Homepage
    If you look far enough down the line, nothing is "ethical". Fair trade coffee means farmers aren't growing food to feed their own starving communities, organic means we need to use more land and cut down more forests. The local farmers at the market drive trucks filled with oil from the middle east and use the money you spend to buy African blood diamonds for their wives. If you want to be ethical, the best thing to do is to stop buying so much stuff in the first place. No you don't need a new phone every year and you will probably do just fine without a 70 inch television, and that car probably can last another year or two.
    • But even that runs into problems. The modern world is built on spending - that's how the economy works. It must always grow, or else it falls apart. If enough people lived as you suggested, and stopped throwing money away on unneeded luxuries, what happens to all those who work in the factories that produce those luxuries, and those who mine the resources to feed those factories, and the workers in retail who sell them? All unemployed, which means they have no money to buy even essentials, which leads to mo
      • But even that runs into problems. The modern world is built on spending - that's how the economy works. It must always grow, or else it falls apart. If enough people lived as you suggested, and stopped throwing money away on unneeded luxuries, what happens to all those who work in the factories that produce those luxuries, and those who mine the resources to feed those factories, and the workers in retail who sell them? All unemployed, which means they have no money to buy even essentials, which leads to more unemployment in a positive feedback loop that will destroy civilization. The economy depends upon wasteful spending, and civilization depends upon the economy. So you can't even advise people not to spend at all.

        First, most people buy too much and are dangerously into debt. This means that, with any mild recession, they become unable to pay their bills and default, thus increasing the crisis. Those few and rare responsible people who don't buy more than they can pay help the economy.

        Second, your scenario of mass unemployment is impossible in a voluntary economy. In a voluntary economy, people would only stop working if there was no work to do - meaning that all human wants are satisfied. This scenario is impossible

    • So if I stop buying stuff the third world wage slaves are out of work and can't buy food.

      Read Paul Krugman's article, cited above. He's right. Being a wage slave sucks, but the alternative is much, much worse.

  • ...industrial growth for half a century, I can't even imagine what the introduction of any kind of ethic would imply for our societies.

    • by arcite (661011)
      Ethics is just another word for efficiency and standards. As standards and efficiency increase so do the ethical ramifications. As populations in Asia become more prosperous and knowledgeable, they too will demand better standards for pollution control and quality of life.
  • Its all Apple's fault.
  • How can you eat meat in good conscience and I don't mean vegetarianism. Most animals are raised in conditions worse than concentration camps. Do you have a choice? Even "free range" can mean a somewhat larger cage as in one they can turn around in. I remember when Organic vegetables first hit the factory farms were asking how much pesticide can they use and still call it organic. The point is we aren't allowed to choose. We can't all live in caves, there aren't enough caves. Sitting in your living room toni
    • The fact of the matter is that the nature of the universe has culminated in creatures which require vast amounts of energy to accomodate their oversized brains capacity for being easily bored so I say it deserves whatever it gets. If trashing the planet wasn't part of the plan then I say go for it and waste away man!

      • CORRECTION: If trashing the planet wasn't part of the plan then we wouldn't have evolved the capacity to do so I say go for it and waste away man!

  • Ever since Tienanmen Square, I've wanted to avoid buying anything Chinese. Also b'cos I support independence for Tibet. However, since that's a non starter worldwide, w/ every company of note having manufacturing there, and the few that ain't being unaffordable, I pretty much leave my conscience in the car whenever I go out shopping. Be it for tech or other items.

    I'm just waiting for the Chinese economy to crash, just like Japan's did years ago, and the US did. As they say, the higher they rise, the h

    • Ever since Tienanmen Square, I've wanted to avoid buying anything Chinese.

      If you think the PRC's government was evil in its handling of the Tienanmen Square affair, then check out
      the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
      It involves deaths by the dozens of millions. It includes Marxist ideologues brainwashing children into spying
      in their own homes and reporting their parents to the authorities for not being Marxist enough.
      And while people focus on China's current growth, they forget the decades of economic disaster (including
      catastrophic famines) that followed the Marxis

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:46PM (#40121527)

    Why limit the question? The same could be asked about clothing and most household and business items, too.

  • I just don't really care
  • That is to say, stop buying into the notion of constant consumption. Take gadgets. Why are you buying a given gadget? Is it to fulfill a specific task or set of tasks? Or is it merely a transient status symbol? If the gadget serves a specific function, such as saving time, or making one more efficient, then it is creating value. Furthermore, the longer you use the gadget, the more efficiency it produces in the life of the user. We all know that rare earth metals are mined in horrible conditions, promote war

  • Reduce Atmospheric Use!

    All that oxygen you're greedily sucking down when you go jogging just to make yourself look thinner and trimmer could be use by someone in the third world or animals. Ditto the food calories you burn up. And you exploited thir world labor for those
    running shorts to be made.

    How can you bear to keep existing and keeping others under the thumbs of your use of resources. Your existence prevents other more worthy beings like microbes from existing.

    Commit suicide today in an environmentally

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @12:55PM (#40121583) Homepage

    Who the fuck says the factory workers are low paid? The people who work on iPads get paid *MORE* than engineers and computer programmers, on par with pilots. HOW IS THAT LOW PAID?

    As for the other parts of your question, Apple seems to be the most ethical of them all, having invited audits of the factories and requirements that flow on down to subcontracting factories.

  • IMAO the worst problem is funding a totalitarian Marxist dictatorship.

    The PRC's government applies the death penalty for crimes as mild as
    tax evasion, and keeps the executions as a state secret. It is estimated
    that 5,000 people were executed in the PRC in 2009 (while the US executed
    43 people in 2011).
    See http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hFQaRjQMjW42oMtQteJRcaFeor4Q [google.com]
    It censors democratic ideologies, criticism to their government,
    and religion. It uses very heavy-handed tactics (including thro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...is that you are not deciding for yourselves what's 'ethical'.

    You are simply taking directions from various activist organisations about what is 'ethical', and which companies meet that standard. And it is in the interests of those activist organisations to find 'unethical activity' - they would have no purpose if they didn't find some....

  • I work for a clean-tech company that generates and reuses the ultra-pure water wet lines need for the manufacture of semiconductors, solar, disk drives and other high tech items. As importantly, not only the water is recycled, but as an integral part of our patented processes, production chemicals are recycled,and never leave the four walls of the fab. Fabs can use more than one thousand gallons of water per MINUTE. Water resources are growing scarce and have become a major constraint on available sites fo
  • If you were a person in one of those countries, you'd be very lucky to get many of those jobs. Those are the good jobs.

    Consider what labor meant during the industrial revolution. It meant the difference between your children starving or not. Literally. And often to make that happen you'd have to put the children to work as well.

    These people are pulling themselves through hundreds of years of Western economic history in no time. It isn't literally over night but what took us hundreds of years is taking them

  • by JOrgePeixoto (853808) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @01:33PM (#40121891) Journal

    Why focusing only on low-paid labour from China?

    Another product that should awake peoples consciences is oil.

    Oil comes from very oppressive and aggressive places - Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran. By buying oil we fund a future Jewish genocide. We engage Israel's enemies militarily (thus enlarging the already excessive US military, and feeding anti-Americanism) with our right hand and throw bags of money at them with our left hand. This is *extremely* counter-productive; it would be very funny if it wasn't so tragic. The government should overtax gas-guzzlers (including SUVs!), subsidise economic cars and lift the barriers on Brazilian ethanol.

  • The whole premise of this is the assumption is that everyone is able to see where tech comes from - that people actually know where the tantalum in the capacitors in a cellphone comes from, for instance. That there is any choice to make between ethical and unethical. The thing is, as consumers, we don't know. Parts suppliers are under no obligation to tell their customers, the OEMs, either. There is no mens rea here on the part of the end user.. There is no guilty mind.

    The only actual point of this que

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @04:48PM (#40123075)

    Those low-paid Asian jobs are still an improvement on those workers' lives. Soldering boards in a plant beats sticking rice seedlings in a field fertilized with liquid human shit any day.

  • by SilverJets (131916) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @05:40PM (#40123437) Homepage

    The ethics of the companies producing the goods are not my problem. If the workers want more money and better working conditions they need to stand up for themselves.

  • Short answer? No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday May 26, 2012 @07:40PM (#40124327) Homepage

    I haven't read through all the comments yet, but in a previous story on a similar topic, someone posted an interesting anecdote about a southern town in the pre-civil war US. This town had strong feelings in opposition to slavery and they eventually outlawed the practice. The town was unable to compete in various markets because the surrounding areas still allowed slavery. The town was doomed until they repealed the anti-slavery law.

    This story illustrates an important thing. Economic factors trump moral factors. The only way to defeat the economic factors to enable moral factors is to dictate them by law... and even that's pretty difficult to do. Take the prohibition of alcohol in the US as an example.

    And here's the kicker: We are talking about imports from nations outside of the legal structure of the US. (As much as the US keeps trying, the world IT still outside of its legal structure.) So if there is to be any progress in the area of quality of life for workers in other countries, there has to be some serious changes made. And the way to make those changes? Some pretty extreme things need to happen... things which most people in the US and in other nations oppose.

    So either learn to live with the guilt or buckle down and support some serious changes in world government because the leaders of other nations are not going to adopt our ideals or beliefs willingly.

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