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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Obama Gives Queen iPod Made In China By Exploited Workers

Gateway Pundit, Hot Air, Jammie Wearing Fool, and others are reporting that the Obamas gave the Queen of England an iPod as a present. Putting aside the tacky nature of such a gift in this context, one point that has been overlooked is that iPods are manufactured in CHINA by exploited female workers:

Apple's iPods are made by mainly female workers who earn as little as £27 per month, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday yesterday.

The report, 'iPod City', isn't available online. It offers photographs taken from inside the factories that make Apple music players, situated in China and owned by Foxconn.

The Mail visited some of these factories and spoke with staff there. It reports that Foxconn's Longhua plant houses 200,000 workers, remarking: "This iPod City has a population bigger than Newcastle's."

The report claims Longhua's workers live in dormitories that house 100 people, and that visitors from the outside world are not permitted. Workers toil for 15-hours a day to make the iconic music player, the report claims. They earn £27 per month.

The report reveals that the iPod nano is made in a five-storey factory (E3) that is secured by police officers.

Another factory in Suzhou, Shanghai, makes iPod shuffles. The workers are housed outside the plant, and earn £54 per month - but they must pay for their accommodation and food, "which takes up half their salaries", the report observes.

A security guard told the Mail reporters that the iPod shuffle production lines are staffed by women workers because "they are more honest than male workers".

The manufacturer in China denies that workers toil in sweatshop conditions, but its statement is hardly reassuring:

The company also said it has continued to make improvements to workers' living conditions, providing safe and well-equipped dormitories complete with free laundry service, sports facilities, libraries, and other facilities.

Apple also denies the sweatshop allegations. But whether the workers toil in sweatshops or in workers' paradise, is beside the point.

At least the President could have promoted U.S. manufacturing by giving something made in the U.S.A. Or does Obama think that iPods ARE made in the U.S.A.? Or perhaps this is part of his strategy to use the G-20 Summit to strengthen ties to China.
UPDATE: Jake Tapper is reporting that the iPod contained three Obama speeches, photos of Obama's inauguration, and photos from the Queen's prior visits to the U.S. I'm sure Her Majesty can't wait to snuggle up to a fire at the castle and listen to Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

And So It Goes In Shreveport has more iPod thoughts. She's a teacher, so she knows. And Jammie points out the iPod included the song "Send in the Clowns."

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  1. Oh good lord. Doesn't somebody advise him on these things?

    How freaking embarrassing!

  2. Obama has no more social grace than you’d find at da Bears game- and surrounded by sycophants, who’s going to point-out his ineptitude?

    And is there some anti-British sentiment coming from Obama due to Kenya’s history as a British Colony? Some grudge there?

    I couldn’t believe the cancelled photo-op with Brown and the tacky DVD-boxed set gift of “ET” and other crap… Don’t you think he’d have watched that by now if he was so inclined? And now an i-pod for the Queen? -nice touch, lol

    These anti-British stunts should tell you whether Obama, in his heart, considers himself more Kenyan-African, or more American. A REAL American wouldn’t have sent-back the bust of Churchill that was in the White House and insult our closest ally.

    Maybe he should check his weird hangups and do his job in a professional manner instead- this stuff is getting pretty embarassing.


  3. All, Do your homework! The workers are no more exploited then you are. The factory campus has factories, employee housing, banks, a post office, a hospital, supermarkets, and a variety of recreational facilities including soccer fields, a swimming pool, TV lounges and Internet cafes. Ten cafeterias are also located throughout the campus offering a variety of menu choices such as fresh vegetables, beef, seafood, rice, poultry, and stir-fry noodles. In addition, employees have access to 13 different restaurants on campus. Employees were pleased with the variety and quality of food offerings. The single largest complaint (approximately 20% of interviewed workers) was the lack of overtime during non-peak periods.
    See http://www.foxconn.com/SER_PubilcRelease_02.html for the full Apple report.

    You all have an ID10T failure in your responses.

  4. The Apple response was linked in my post, but the issue seems much deeper, as indicated in this report of harrassment of Chinese journalists who tried to investigate, http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?menu=c10400&no=316279&rel_no=1&isPrint=print.

    But more important, Obama complained during the campaign about the evil people who ship jobs overseas, yet in the one important gift he gives on his first major trip overseas, he gives a symbol of the loss of American manufacturing capacity. Obama also complains about low labor standards rendering trade agreements unfair to American workers, yet again he chooses a product which has been at the center of controversy on this very topic.

    I'm not against companies such as Apple finding manufacturing sources abroad, but I am against Obama's hypocrisy. And that was the point of my post.

  5. Note that Obama also gave the Queen a rare signed songbook by Richard Rodgers. The Queen loves Rodgers and Hammerstein.

  6. William,

    exploitation can be measured in 2 ways:

    1) by our standards - unionized labour vs. non-union labour.

    2) the standards of the workers employed in the compound.

    Whilst not supporting the possibility of sweat shops the Chinese people seem eager to work for employers such as Apple because they are getting good money by comparison to what they were getting in prior work.

    The cries of exploitation usually come from people who are unionists. In some ways the charge is fair and correct. However, those making the charge are also judging according to a different set of standards.

    It is good to see that someone has provided a bit of extra insight about the actual working conditions :)

    Your points about the hypocrisy of the gift are also quite valid.

    I would comment that the gift itself is extremely tacky, especially when it included two speeches that in my view would be quite a yawn.

    I also heard that the DVDs would not work because the DVD recorders are from different zones. It was another thoughtless gift, just like the very tacky plastic helicopters given to the Brown children.

    From what I have been reading the Obamas have been ignoring that thing called Protocol. I am astounded that they have no one advising about the correct form of protocol. They seem to be going from gaffe to gaffe.

    From my point of view it is more than the hypocrisy of giving a product made in China, it is the bad taste of this pair - extremely bad taste.