Pig Philosophy: Some Links About Apple.:
There is another, more subtle issue here. Do Apple's supernormal profits come from not only maintaining it's monopoly position on the consumer end but also by putting the squeeze on Foxconn (as an important customer) to produce at extremely low costs. Here the fact that this is not just an Apple problem but that Foxconn makes electronics for a wide variety of electronics manufactures comes into play. Even if Apple were to insist on slightly lower profit margins (slightly higher prices) to raise living standards for workers one would expect a fair amount of push back from electronic manufacturers producing products in more competitive markets. These firms simply cannot afford to have costs of production increased (in theory, at least). In this way making this issue all about Apple is not useful.
Okay, last but definitely not least, here is a link to the Mike Daisey 'This American Life" episode (also, appropriately available on iTunes) that got everyone talking about this issue in the first place. I'm putting this last because it will be more relevant later in the semester when we turn to discussing development and long term growth. As I said in class, we will be looking at these issues from 35,000 feet. This podcast, better than anything else I can think of, is an important reminder that economies are made up of people. It also pushes people to not accept the process of development as necessarily brutal. Daisey's insistence that the invisible hand does not absolve us of our responsibilities as people is an important message that goes beyond just thinking about the crap we buy.