Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012: The Year the Internet Almost Became a Cozy Cuddle-Puddle : The New Yorker:

American consumers almost confronted the fact that overseas workers often make our goods in grim conditions, of the sort that—you’ve seen the photos—result in the need for employers to erect suicide nets.

No wait, that was all a lie made up by Mike Daisey! Phew. Or else maybe, as Charles Duhigg and David Barboza meticulously chronicled in the Times, Chinese workers assembling gadgets in Foxconn’s factories for Apple and other U.S. companies have, indeed, faced “onerous work environments and serious—sometimes deadly—safety problems.” It’s all rather confusing, really, and easier not to sweat the details. By summer, many readers had just thrown up their hands and returned to scrolling through pictures of baby pandas on their iPhones. (And now: Ikea monkeys in shearling coats!)

But even as the year closes out with news of Apple pledging to bring some of its manufacturing jobs home, a fire at a Bangladeshi factory producing for another major U.S. company—Walmart—killed more than a hundred young women and men. What’s more, we’re learning the details of a similar fire in Pakistan that killed some three hundred workers trapped behind locked doors two months before that. Not a banner year for the “close your eyes, swipe your credit card” school of American mass consumption.