Should Apple Make Its Products In The U.S.?

Should Apple Make Its Products In The U.S.?

The New York Times on Sunday published a provocative piece asking whether Apple has an obligation to make its products at home in the U.S.

The article describes how, in 2007, just before the iPhone hit stores, Steve Jobs angrily discovered that its screen was easily scratched. He ordered the plastic screens be immediately replaced with scratch-proof glass ones.

New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

The Times notes that General Motors in its heyday employed 400,000 U.S. workers. Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas. An additional 700,000 workers build and assemble Apple’s products, mostly in China.

The main reason is pretty obvious: cheap labor. But it’s also noted that in China, there’s the hustle to wake a shift of workers at midnight to get started on glass screens. In addition, the entire supply chain is there, so if a plant needs one million screws, there’s a screw factory a block away. And there are many other factors, including the Chinese government’s willingness to invest heavily in industry, which allows plants to be built on spec.

But one theme keeps recurring: a better supply of well-educated workers.

When Apple looked at building an iPhone plant in the U.S., it couldn’t find enough engineers to oversee the production lines:

Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.

In China, it took 15 days.

In the piece, an anonymous Apple executive says the company “shouldn’t be criticized for using Chinese workers” because “the U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.”

Indeed, in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, there’s a description of a conversation he had with President Barack Obama during dinner in Silicon Valley. Obama asked Jobs what it would take to make Apple’s products in the U.S.; Jobs replied that it wasn’t cheap labor or government regulation, but a lack of skilled labor.

Jobs told Obama that the country needed more trained engineers, especially those from overseas who get degrees in the U.S. but are forced to leave after graduation.

Obama replied that the immigration reform bill was tied up in Congress, which annoyed Jobs. He later told Isaacson: “The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done… It infuriates me.”

The outsourcing question is a complex one, and as the Times piece notes, there are many factors, including exploitive worker conditions.

Still, Apple’s revenue topped $108 billion — more than the state budgets of Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts combined. The estimated additional cost of making an iPhone in the U.S. is only $65.

Apple’s products are designed and marketed in America. When the company is enjoying unprecedented financial success, does it have a moral obligation to put that money to work at home?

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  • Barton Lynch

    “there entire supply chain”? really? did you proof read this post? it’s full of errors

  • Alex

    ” Jobs replied that it wasn’t cheap labor or government regulation, but a lack of skilled labor.”

    Lets be honest the real reason for Apple and many other companies to move to China is profit margin….

  • Sean Murphy

    It is hard to take something seriously, when it is full of misspelled words and speculation.

    My God man, you’re getting paid for this, at least proof read or have someone do it for you, so you don’t look like a complete fool!

  • pickme2

    The dumbing down of the American population will be the hallmark of the great nation’s history. When you see throngs of Tea Partiers on television, to a man, totally clueless; when Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin offer themselves up as realistic choices for President, you realize the country is falling into the abyss. Where a company manufactures its products pretty much falls right off the landscape, by comparison.

  • cassandralite

    Hey, I have an idea for a splashy TV commercial: There’s a giant TV on which we see a balding, middle-aged man wearing round, rimless glasses and a close-cropped beard, chanting some droning platitudes.  As the camera pulls back, we see that the screen is in a giant auditorium, where thousands of identically-dressed Chinese workers stare at it robotically.  Suddenly from the back bursts a young woman carrying a first-gen Macintosh.  She swings it around her head, and as she prepares to launch it at the screen, a voice-over narrator says, “On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce the new boss, and you’ll see why 1984 will eventually be just like 1984.”

  • Buster

    profit margin is affected by a lot of different factors and that’s what the NYTimes article seeks to address. Like Leander said, it’s not just that the workers are cheaper, it’s the fact that a factory in China can be ready to produce something in 96 hours, whereas it would take a factory in the US 35 days. Getting the amount of engineers in China can only take a week but in the US you’re looking at months of searching to employ the right people to make the factory run properly.

    Yes it is all about profits but not in the sense that we normally think. I believe the article stated it would cost Apple $68 per iPhone if they were to move production over to the United States. The issue for Apple isn’t really the $68 because they would still be making a healthy profit margin, the issue is that it would take them forever to get iPhones made if they moved it all to the US because the US doesn’t have the right systems and education in place for manufacturing jobs anymore.

  • prof_peabody

    The fact that Apple was able to rouse people from their sleep to go work for them, shouldn’t be any part of the equation at all.  It’s patently wrong to force people to do that and if the Chinese workers felt they had other options, they wouldn’t comply. 

    A mistake or a change in production like that screen issue, typically results in a product delay of some kind.  This is totally normal.  

    The fact that they were able to fix it without a delay is not testament to the hard work of the Chinese but to the lack of rights and options they have.

  • Buster

    regardless of whether they were woken up at midnight, or whether they started at 7am in the morning, the message is clear that Chinese factories are able to adapt to changes in production a hell of a lot quicker than US plants can.

  • Alex


    The issue for Apple isn’t really the $68 because they would still be making a healthy profit margin,”

    Apple ( like most companies )  doesn’t want a healthy profit margin … they want the highest profit margin they can get.  And lets face where I live here in the NW there is no shortage of highly skilled workers ( and we make all kinds stuff much more complex then an iPhones around here )  but the they don’t work for third world wages …

    In strange twist I even though I live in the US, I have been working freelance in Europe for many years because I get paid more over there …

  • cassandralite

    How right you are, and how dumb Palin and Gingrich are for promising to stop the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.  Oh, wait…

  • imajoebob

    Oh, wait… they say the planet doesn’t need healing and that the rising oceans will take care of themselves.  As they (literally) take the ignorance and rank stupidity of their followers to the bank.

  • cassandralite

    That’s your comeback?!  A tu quoque?  With bonus points for a stupid and ignorant use of “literally”. 

  • Carl Friend

    It is because the workers in China do not have the same rights as those in the United States.  It is a moral and ethical issue for both Apple and other companies and one they fail and has nothing to do with education!
    Also stop with putting down the Republicans on this thread when by Steve’s actions he leaned toward being a Republican.

  • imajoebob

    The reason China can exercise this “flexibility” is that the entire population is de facto slave labor.  You either produce what they say, when they say it, or you end up in prison, or if you’re “lucky” doing stoop labor on a farm for the remaining 30 years of your (short) life.  There’s your “skilled labor;” they’re skilled enough to know how to stay alive.
    If any of those 8,700 Industrial Engineers wants to work in an automobile plant or improving the Shanghai bus system they’re out of luck.  It’s figure out how to get an extra 5 iPhones (or Dell Computers, or Xboxes) an hour off the assembly line, or it’s prison.  There’s your “flexibility.” 

    It was 3 decades ago that American industry began selling their souls to save 3¢ in unit cost, and 15 years ago they bought Congress to give them tax breaks (i.e. our money) to save another nickel.

    The United States doesn’t lack an Industrial Policy – it has one that promotes overseas manufacturing, overseas banking, overseas polluters, and punishes any and all “Made In America” producers.  And Jobs was just as eager and complicit in promoting that policy as anyone.

  • imajoebob

    The reason China can exercise this “flexibility” is that the entire population is de facto slave labor.  You either produce what they say, when they say it, or you end up in prison, or if you’re “lucky” doing stoop labor on a farm for the remaining 30 years of your (short) life.  There’s your “skilled labor;” they’re skilled enough to know how to stay alive.
    If any of those 8,700 Industrial Engineers wants to work in an automobile plant or improving the Shanghai bus system they’re out of luck.  It’s figure out how to get an extra 5 iPhones (or Dell Computers, or Xboxes) an hour off the assembly line, or it’s prison.  There’s your “flexibility.” 

    It was 3 decades ago that American industry began selling their souls to save 3¢ in unit cost, and 15 years ago they bought Congress to give them tax breaks (i.e. our money) to save another nickel.

    The United States doesn’t lack an Industrial Policy – it has one that promotes overseas manufacturing, overseas banking, overseas polluters, and punishes any and all “Made In America” producers.  And Jobs was just as eager and complicit in promoting that policy as anyone.

  • Howie Isaacks

    Apple should manufacture their products anywhere they see fit.  If consumers in the US don’t like it, let them buy their products from a company that does manufacture everything in the US.  Good luck finding one though.  Unionization, and lack of skilled workers is really at fault.

  • Tim Pease

    I would hazard to guess that one reason there are so many skilled laborers in China is because that’s what the government TELLS them to be.  They’re human robots over there.  Imagine the US government telling you that you HAD to be something other than what you dreamed of.  Is that a life worth living?

    And I love how the media targets Apple, just because they’re king of the hill right now.  I never hear Dell, HP or Google mentioned.  Almost every technology company right now has their products assembled overseas.  Can anyone tell me the name of a US technology company that has ALL their components manufactured and assembled here?  Anyone?

  • Al

    So the problem comes down to a poor education system in the USA. That reminds me of a trip I took to the United States, when I was asked by a very friendly and well-meaning stranger who had overheard my distinctive accent, how I had learned English and what language we speak in my home country.

    I am from England.

  • nolavabo

    Why all the frantic hand-wringing over keeping low-skilled, minimum wage jobs like *assembly* in the US? According to people like IHS (formerly iSuppli) the assembly stage of an iPhone is only worth about 10% of the BoM (Bill of Materials). Assembly is 21st century burger flipping.

    The other 90% of the BoM is the components. Some are commodity items, and should also be left to China (et al) to produce, e.g. screws, ribbon cables, glue. Let’s call it another 10%. The rest, however, are high-tech components, e.g. CPUs, GSM modules, RAM, capacative LCD displays, aluminosilicate glass. The issue here shouldn’t be about the 10% value add of assembly or the 10% of commodity items, but why the US produces so little of the other 80% of the true cost of an iPhone.

    This high-tech, high value-add 80% is only marginally American. The biggest item I can think of is the radio controller chip, made by Broadcom (let’s leave aside what % of that chip is actually made in the US for now). The vast majority of the rest is made by Koreans and Japanese, who also need to pay well to keep their engineers. Korean tech wages are pretty close to American wages, and Japanese wages are equal to or higher. This is where the probing questions and outrage should be directed. But to be fair, that war and that debate is over. This is nothing more than the legacy of America failing to keep their radio/television/whitegoods/computer manufacturing industries alive.

  • Daniel Harris

    Why should Apple be singled out as the one who has to manufacture in the US? It’s competitors don’t so Apple can’t either. That’s the way a free market capitalist system works.

  • Thinkydoo

    According to this, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/…,
    in 2006 there were 19 million engineers in the USA work force, and of these, 485,000
    were unemployed.  I don’t buy the
    lack of skilled worker argument at all.  I do accept that they “have” to do this to be cost competitive and our nation’s policies allow them to do this.   It saves us all money, at least those of us who already have a job, and that’s the same reason Walmart buys most of their stuff from China too.  The down side is, that $100 I save on my iphone will probably have to go for the dole or a gun and pitbull pack to protect me from the unemployed American proles who eventually will get fed up with it all.

  • robgilgan

    I need to add a little plug for Pad and Quill – http://pandandquill.com who manufacture beautiful handmade iPad and iPhone covers in Wisconsin. I bought two of them and the fact they are handmade in America, by Americans was a defining factor in my purchase. I’m Canadian, BTW.

  • stewm

    I have lived here in the USA (from England) for over 11 years and when a person soliciting a service or religion comes to the door I just say in English, Sorry but I do not understand english or Spanish and so I cannot talk to you, please leave.  They just turn and walk away.  

    I’ve even heard a few of them say, “How does he cope over here without knowing either English or Spanish?”,  made me chuckle and gives me peace and quiet.  If they persist then I start yabbling on in Czech or Russian and then slam the door in the face.

  • robgilgan

    I don’t think the proper noun has anything to do with it. Gingrich and Palin would be just as stupid if they were Democrats. Seriously – you folks have got to get this straightened out or you’re totally screwed.

  • robgilgan

    And to be clear – this is exactly how entrepreneurs work. Do you think Steve Jobs worked nine-to-five? Think he never got roused out of bed at midnight to work through the night to solve a problem? It wasn’t the spectre of prison that motivated him, granted, but success, on some level, doubtless did.

  • aardman

    I’ve been following this story by NYT in all sorts of online fora and finally an intelligent comment.  Yes, Foxconn is esssentially a low wage assembly operation.  There’s not much high tech, high-value added processes going on there. And yes the big fight should be about those types of industries.

    The sad thing is there is no US policy, or even attitude among the general population, that says we want to remain a strong manufacturing nation and we will do whatever is necessary to attain that goal.  Germany and Japan does this.  China and Korea does this.  But we don’t.

    A lot of our policy subscribes to this misguided belief (foisted by mainstream economists, I’d know, I trained as one) that a service job is just as good as a manufacturing job as long as they generate the same real wages.  Well even if we accept the premise that service jobs pay as well as manufacturing, give me two countries, one is 80-20 services-mfg, the other one is the reverse.  Tell me which one will be a stronger economy 25 years from now.

    Or in more concrete terms.  An engineer developing a new computer.  A Finance Ph.D. designing a new derivative.  Which one is engaged in an activity that makes a real contribution to the economy?  Which one is enlarging the stock of technological know-how and which one is coming up with just another way to move money around?

  • aardman

    You’re really speaking from a position of extreme ignorance.  It will take too long to explain why what you’re saying about “de facto slave labor” is just ideological garbage.  

    My slamming you is not motivated by ideology; I voted for Wellstone and Franken.

  • Robert X

    Obligation to? No, not in the slightest.

  • pollix

    Apple’s products are expensive enough as it is.  Bringing the production line to the U.S. will probably make it more expensive.  U.S. workers can’t work for less than $20.00 / hour, then factor in union’s, and then OSHA requirements to name a few.  The cost of new Apple products will skyrocket.  Just keep the low cost assembly lines in China.  We can create other types of jobs in the U.S.

  • Corbin Fawver

    yes they should. it would be a lot cheaper to ship to all the apple stores.

  • David Mckreel

    There are some interesting comments here about manufacturing and why some work is done in China.http://http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/a...
    I would say much of the the comment in the 2 articles from Cult of Mac and The Atlantic could be applied to any Western society / nation.

  • mahimahimahi

    Not at all.  This is an idiotic argument presented by people who have no clue about business or economics.  

  • Shameer Mulji

    There are some of us who love your families and our lives much more than the corporations who employ us in case you didn’t know.

  • Richard

    Ummm, my screen still gets scratched, and so does the back, both iPhone 3gs and 4s, what gives, why haven’t they used gorilla glass??? Which is a US company Corning.

  • Richard

    Perhaps a note or two about what you know on Global Economics, GDP and Trade agreements, and of course how it all is related to our education system and the american dream…

  • lkahney

    Well, the additional cost may be not that much. The articles says it’ll cost only $65 extra to make an iPhone in the U.S. 

    On a device that costs $700 unlocked and unsubsidized, that’s only ~10% extra.

  • mahimahimahi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C… AKA The basis of global economics.  That is all the information you need to know about how it ties in with the american dream.

  • Anton

    The problem is that most of us care neither less nor more than those chinese workers. The problem is that most of us just exploited workers of the corporations. Means of production must belong to workers!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  • lkahney

    @BusterH:disqus Right. And as NYT columnist Paul Krugman just pointed out, it’s not just cheap labor. It’s about agglomeration — the clustering of many factors that create the right conditions. 
    In China, there’s the clustering of skilled workers, other companies in the supply chain, specialized manufacturers, and so on. 

    Just as in Silicon Valley there’s clustering of money and talent to support startups. 

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c

  • lkahney

    No one’s picking on Apple per se. It’s just the poster boy for the entire U.S. manufacturing sector. It’s a big, high-profile example of what most other companies are doing.

  • lkahney

    In fact, the best quote in the piece about this clustering came from the CEO of Corning, the Kentuky company that makes the iPhone’s strengthened glass:

    “Our customers are in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China,” said James B. Flaws, Corning’s vice chairman and chief financial officer. “We could make the glass here, and then ship it by boat, but that takes 35 days. Or, we could ship it by air, but that’s 10 times as expensive. So we build our glass factories next door to assembly factories, and those are overseas.”

    Corning was founded in America 161 years ago and its headquarters are still in upstate New York.

    Theoretically, the company could manufacture all its glass domestically. But it would “require a total overhaul in how the industry is structured,” Mr. Flaws said. “The consumer electronics business has become an Asian business. As an American, I worry about that, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Asia has become what the U.S. was for the last 40 years.”

  • lkahney

    I don’t know. I think there is an obligation. There are many complexities, but I do believe in companies supporting they local economies. Look at BuyRite here in San Francisco, which buys locally and has created a really vibrant mini-economy around itself: 
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/… much good could Apple create if it took its astronomical profits and invested them in America? Yes, iPhones and iPads would be more expensive, but there would be more middle-class Americans to buy them. 

  • MacRat

    I remember when Macs were manufactured in the US.

    1987, Macintosh II, $3,898
    1988, Macintosh IIfx, $7,769
    1989, Macintosh IIci, $6,700

  • cassandralite

    Until about 25 years ago, Hollywood studios were the only locales where filmmakers could find the facilities and skilled personnel necessary to manufacture movies and television. 

    Then Canada began offering tax incentives that lured both the corporate studios and the producers, and quickly at least two Canadian provinces built out the necessary infrastructure and attracted skilled veterans of these various crafts. 

    Soon Hollywood had to invent a term–runaway production–to euphemize the fact that the town was dying.  In time other countries, like Rumania and New Zealand, began offering full-service studios to filmmakers who are always looking for the most cost-effective way to get their stories on the screen (most states also provide monetary incentives of one sort or another).  Both

    The analogy is both obvious and instructive, vis-a-vis our position v China.  This country can compete again on the terms described in the NYT story if we lower our corporate tax rates, which are now the world’s highest, and provide incentives for hiring U.S. citizens.  A majority of Apple’s $80 billion cash is overseas, thus not subject to these destructive rates.  I suspect that Apple would be far more likely to repatriate that sum, and do something cool with it domestically, if the company didn’t have to write a $20 billion check to the U.S. treasury for–well, that’s another story.

  • zagatosz

    Yeah Apple should manufacture in the USA. I am sure they could figure how to set up a plant here in America to manufacture a portion of their product line, rather than a country where workers are so exploited they commit suicide to escape the working conditions.

  • MacawMan

    Without a doubt they should bring all their operations to the U.S.! They’re headquartered here, they make huge amounts of money here and they could set the wheels turning for a better economy in the U.S. It’s not like they’re giving their products away because they’re made in other countries, they still could make a hefty profit!

  • MacawMan

    There are plenty of other companies that are catching heat for not manufacturing their products in the U.S., read the media! Free market capitalism at what cost?! How about helping your neighbor?! What about paying it forward?

  • morgan3nelson

    The US is the worst place to manufacture anything. With all the tree-hugging environmentalists creating EXTREME restrictions and the money leeching Unions who create sub par employees who in turn produce inferior products (look at what the US has done to our Automotive industry), Apple should STAY FAR AWAY from manufacturing in the US.  IF they could somehow eliminate Unions (the US should do this anyway – from Public Education to the lowliest menial job – Unions destroy quality), they will never eliminate the restrictions put inlace by bumbling bureaucrats aiming to silence an ignorant minority. 

    The US has destroyed every major manufacturing sector thanks to these two anti-business elements.  

  • morgan3nelson

    in the past 40 years Unions and Environmentalists have single handedly destroyed manufacturing in the US.  I agree with Mr Flaws – it is concerning that Asia is the Tech Manufacturing mecca, but the US is in no way the solution.  No one wants to pay more for sub-par Union built goods – and thats what our socialist minded politicians and Unions will produce.

  • morgan3nelson

    The shipping would be cheaper – but then again so would the quality of the product.  Have you seen the crap our Union beleaguered manufacturers produce?  Moving Apple manufacturing to the US would give the game to Google  and Android in one move – and that stuff is pretty crappy already.

  • morgan3nelson

    Isn’t the obligation on the part of the US to make it POSSIBLE for quality manufacturing to be done in the US without the burden of organized crime, errr Unions, OSHA, Environmentalists and political pandering?  The obligation is NOT on the part of Apple in the least.  The statement that there would be “more middle-class Americans” is a pipe dream – probably written by someone smoking some wacky pipe.  Manufacturing in the US is NOT a middle-class occupation – the Unions see to that.

  • 33VA

    YES they should produce their products in the US. It would generate many many jobs as well as keep money IN our country instead of sending it around the world. I also disagree with Morgan Nelson; where the products are produced usually only affects quality based on the company’s regulations. Yes US cars aren’t the best quality but US made guitars are some of the best in the world. You cannot compare apples to oranges by comparing the automotive market to the computer/phone market.

  • James Smith

    No, Apple should manufacture in California. This is where it was born, not Rhode Island or North Carolina. Workers should be represented by the UAW (United Apple Workers).

  • cassandralite

    Right you are, Rob, because if we don’t all agree that Republicans are stupid and evil, we’ll surely drown in a sea of democracy, with ideas competing against each other for supremacy.  We sure wouldn’t want that.  It’s much better if there’s only one party and no elections.  Right?  Right?

  • imajoebob

    You’re as ignorant as you are stupid.  First, “Unions and Environmentalists” are two things, so they couldn’t “single handedly” do anything.  Second, your entire thesis is a bald-faced lie – you offer no support, no reasoning, not even a quote from the professional job destroyers that have ravaged the economy for 30 years.  Environmental regulations have been shown in almost every reputable study to increase jobs, add to the economy, and save money (prevention is a lot cheaper than cleanup).  The demise of American manufacturing and quality goods is directly attributable to the  disappearance of unions, not the opposite as you falsely claim. As the right wing began their assualt on unions in the 1980s they took middle class jobs, middle class wealth, and middle class consumers with it.

    You’re a lying bastard without a brain or a soul.

  • ex_spy_guy

    No unionized labor, no right to work, no undocumented workers or people on work visas, citizens only, one year holiday on corporate income tax for revenue on iDevices built in the US. Contract labor only, one year renewable every month, compensation based on performance and quality as compared to a comparable sized force from Foxconn.

    I would like to see metrics on something like this.

  • imajoebob

    Morgan, you’re a lying sack of manure.  Go peddle your right wing lies someplace else.  NO, it’s not the obligation of the government to abet the robber barons and slave laborers to run roughshod over the citizens and environment of the country.  It is a long established tenet of the US that our resources belong to everyone and should be managed and preserved to benefit the most people for the longest period of time, not just to exploit for the fastest buck.  

    It is the role of government to help protect its citizens against all enemies, both foreign and DOMESTIC.  An industry that pollutes the land. water and air, poisons the food supply, and sickens and kills its workers is EXACTLY what we are supposed to be protected from.

    Take your ignorance and/or propaganda-diseased mind elsewhere.

  • ex_spy_guy

    Steve Jobs was one of the biggest liberals on the planet. al gore is the most libtarded environmentalist on the planet and he sits on the BOD.

    If these two Libs made the decision to send the manufacturing overseas…it’s because even they realize leftist jackoot unions and environmentalist nazis, US Government red tape and minimum wage/”living wage” activists would ruin apple like they have every other manufacturing operation.

    I don’t want some fool smoking dope and drinking a 40 on their lunch break before building my phone.

  • imajoebob

    Rreally, I’m ignorant?  Tell that to the thousands of workers who were roused from their sleep to immediately start a 12-hour shift.  Tell that to the workers who killed themselves because the condition they were forced to work in were so extreme and severe that they chose suicide over another day’s labor.  Tell that to the thousands of political prisoners whose only “crime” was to speak out against a system of forced labor (quaintly called “employment” in China).

    The ignorance is yours.  There’s nothing “ideological” about the conditions of nearly every Chinese worker, from the tens of thousands of coal miners that have died in the last few years to the millions exiled to farms to the Foxconn assemblers forced to work whenever and however long their party overlords demand.

    You may have voted for Wellstone, but you’re completely ignorant of the facts as he stated them about prison labor, forced labor, government control and subsidy of industry, and worker conditions in China.

    Or was he just an ideologue, too?

  • imajoebob

    There’s no fallacy in what I wrote – just the opposite of your pathetic attempt at satire (as redundant as that is when discussing Palin). Palin LITERALLY makes millions of dollars exploiting the ignorance of her followers. Her income is based solely on fooling some of the people some of the time. And the morfe she fools the more she makes.

    And you’re obviously one of those fools.

  • poppa1138

    If you produce Apple products in the US, this will push product cost up to the consumer,a Foxconn employee earns around $299 per month,what would a person working in the US assembling Apple products expect per month doing the same job?

  • Charel

    Let’s look at the problem, if problem it is, from a different angle.

    First, 60% of Apple’s revenue is derived from foreign sales. Apple is a multi national corporation, no longer an American one,

    Second, how much is the value of labor in dollar terms. The amount it costs Apple for the 40.000 US workers compared to the use of the 700.000 foreign workers.

    Then, what is the direct labor cost in the products Apple sells. I presume, that it is a minor part of the total cost of it’s output.

    Lastly, Apple is doing it’s utmost to protect its foreign labor force from exploitation, it even published the names of the companies in its supply chain so anyone can check the truth. 

  • Colin Darby

    Sure, of course they should make their products in the US. As long as all their competitors are forced to also.

    No manufacturer would ‘do the right thing’ and purposefully make all their products more expensive (and of inferior quality if you believe the reports), if none of their competitors don’t do the same.

    The only way they will do this is there’s worldwide legislation to artificially make imported goods the same price, and to force the entire world to have the same world-wide labour laws.

    Not likely, in fact – impossible.

    This argument is pointless and if I didn’t know better, I’d say it’s just anti-Apple PR to shed any bad light in Apple’s direction.

    If you feel angry about where Apple make their products, then don’t buy them – go to that other company that doesn’t use any overseas labour.

    Oh right, there aren’t any.

    You can argue all you like as to the reasons for that – but it’s not Apple’s problem and it’s unfair to single them out.

  • Thermostat9

    I really doubt ‘Apple’ roused anyone.  The work is outsourced to Foxcon isn’t it?  They will be the ones with control over their workers.

    (And I’d like to mention, as a European, it is always hilarious hearing Americans talking about what you imagine the rest of the world is like when the vast majority of you don’t even own a passport.)

  • Commonman

    There is only one group to blame for all this: We The People… It fascinates me how we all complain about everything made in China yet everyone shops at Target, Walmart, and Home Depot. We also vote these greedy ass politicians in with hundreds of lobbying firms that grease the palms that make the laws.

    We need to implement term limits for congressional lifers, create a economical public health care systems (right wingers can call it socialism), high tariffs on imports and more focus on public schools (right wingers can call them socialist schools). Steve Job’s quote about lack of quality engineers seemed to hit the right cord. With the exception of BMW and Toyota, which has more manufacturing plants in the US than Ford, Chrysler and GM combined, I really think the only thing still made in the USA are marbles. We The People need to regulate our political system not the companies.

    What we have are states fighting each other for what little manufacturing that is left. Let’s go after the “Made in China”, “Made in India”, “Made in Mexico”, “Made in Taiwan” etc… factories. What the hell…they tax our exports and we don’t tax their imports. No we just build plants in their country. Yes there should be a “global economy” but it should also be a “two-way street”. And stop blaming Apple. Korean corporation Samsung makes some good products…ask all those FanDroid users.

    So the next time you take your family to Target, don’t go blaming Apple for our economic woes, at least their new educational book strategy can keep “some” American’s busy… at least those that can still read and write.

    Democrate, Republican or Independent…next time you vote, do a little research before making that choice. That is “if” you vote!

  • Chet Sandberg

    Increasing energy costs will begin to destroy the advantages of what is de facto colonial exploitation of workers in foreign countries. It’s a matter of time. As energy costs rise, it will be untenable to import as much regardless of labor or tax cost savings. Employee participation and co-ownership are the means by which manufacturing can return to the U.S. in the meantime.

  • techgeek01

    Samsung is wee bit different than Apple.  They are a Korean company. Meaning that it would make no sense to have factories in America. But makes perfect sense to have factories in Korea.  Well, matter of fact, Samsung does have a factory in Texas and I believe they are in the process of expanding it.

  • Gregintosh

    The article is full of crap. I’d like to see a source for this “extra $65″ statistic, or basis for its calculation. Paying your average worker $3,000 versus $200 per month, and having Half a million of them doesn’t sound like it would increase the cost of the product by a trivial amount. Just do the math.

  • Greg_in_Dallas

    My uncle worked for GM for most of his career and a member of the union.  When he was in 3rd shift quality control, he pulled a few parts and then slept for 6 hours.  He was paid $65k a year to push a broom and retired early because he was too unhealthy to bend over and vacuum under the plant’s equipment.  Yep, unions are a good value.

  • Gregintosh

    That’s easy. About $4,000 per month for it to be a “living wage” then of course paid for health benefits, a pension plan, an 8 hour work day with 5 breaks in it (compared to the 12 hour shifts they may work overseas), all holidays and weekends off, and tuition assistance for their kids, I’m probably forgetting other things too.

    Some people forget that the cost of benefits sometimes exceeds the cost of wages, especially in Union situations as is common in manufacturing. There’s no way the liberals/Obama would let Apple employ 500,000 factory workers without forcing them to become unionized and blowing costs through the roof.

    With China, Apple can pay about $250-$300 a head and have all the benefits covered. And they get a worker who typically doesn’t call in sick with a case of the Mondays, is willing to work 12 hours a day 6 days a week, and has pride in and loyalty to the company he works in.

    Not saying what would be the most ideal lifestyle for the worker here, but looking at the facts you would probably make the same choice if your goal was to maximize shareholder value by releasing competitive products.

    Everyone here can talk a big game, but then those same people turn around and complain that the option they want in their iPad or MacBook costs an extra $99. People used to complain about a $29 remote not being included with their iMacs anymore. Just wait to see what happens when the cost of Apple products goes up 50% to 100%.

  • volodoscope

    you speak with such confidence, do you have a degree in economics?

  • volodoscope

    It’s called being an American and not a third-world country citizen. Apple doesn’t want to turn US into a third world country like Republicans do.

  • volodoscope

    Really? Then how can Germany have one of the most strict environmental laws in Europe produce such quality products and have most stable economy out of the Union? Hmmm … Maybe you should stop watching Fox news.

  • ex_spy_guy

    Republicans know that the corporate income tax, forced healthcare, minimum wage, unions and ridiculous environmental stipulations are the reason no one wants to manufacture organically.
    Maybe Apple should relocate to Canada so the US would give it a CT discount for manufacturing in the United States.

  • volodoscope

    “People who live in the past, have little chance at helping the future.” Your ignorant lies sound like they came straight out of Fox news.

  • volodoscope

    Are you retarded? Where are you getting your “facts.” You realize that US is the biggest manufacturer in the world. If it was making cheap quality products it wouldn’t be. It’s because of the quality the US is known for best manufacturing next to Germany. Do some research. http://shopfloor.org/2011/03/u

  • volodoscope

    stop watching Fox news. Do your own research. Go to a library. Oh wait, that’s too liberal for you and too communist.

  • volodoscope

    Hmm that’s weird because Germany has stricter laws yet it the 3rd biggest producer in the world.

  • cassandralite

    No fallacy?  Really?  The rules of logic must have changed.  Putting aside the silly notion that the governor of Alaska who went toe to toe with the oil companies doesn’t care about the environment, I urge you to please demonstrate for us all how one “literally” takes ignorance and stupidity to the bank.  When you do that, then you can call me a fool.  Until then, you’ve beclowned yourself.

  • imajoebob

    She makes MILLIONS off idiots like you who blindly pay to hear her speak, pay for her completely fictional and ghost-written books, and watch her on Fox News as if she were the Madonna, not some ignorant, ill-informed, right wing fembot. 5 years ago she was falsifying her expense records to get by; now she’s worth millions. Gee, what changed?

    You’re delusional. The half-term quitter didn’t go “toe-to-toe” with anyone. She even used surrogates to maliciously and illegally abuse her office to attack her ex-brother in-law. “Drill baby, drill” is not the motto of the environmental movement, but was coined by oil industry lobbyists. She wants to eliminate the EPA, which is the only agency keeping her state from being coated in a thick ooze. She slams Obama as “socialist” but distributed the largest royalty payments EVER to Alaska residents. She’s a whore for the oil companies, a whore for Fox News, a whore for right wing billionaires, and a whore for anybody who’ll sell her book.

    So, now that I’ve “earned” the privilege: you’re a fool.

  • imajoebob

    You’re simply a bad liar. Go away.

  • cassandralite

    Dude, you really need to define “literally”.  You can’t get out of the fact that one cannot “literally take the ignorance and rank stupidity of their followers to the bank.”  Can’t be done.  Literally can’t be done.  See, that’s the proper use.  Or: I literally slap my forehead when I read your indefensible defense of yourself.

    And by the way, you have no frickin’ idea what my politics are.  I never said.  You read things into what’s not there, just as you FOOLishly use words you don’t know the meaning of.  As if that’s not bad enough, you double down by trying to change the subject. 

    (Oh, you’ll have to explain how a “whore for the oil companies” forced them to cough up more money so that she could distribute “the largest royalty payments EVER to Alaska residents?”)

  • imajoebob

    You are the living example of those ignorant, loser followers. Take a course in reading comprehension, then come back.

  • cassandralite

    Dude, you LITERALLY are a moron.  The first rule of being in a hole is to stop digging.  But you never do.  I’ll be glad to run naked at rush hour down 5th Ave. screaming that all Republicans (or target group of your choice) are morons the moment you demonstrate how to “literally take…ignorance and stupidity…to the bank.”  Your firedoglake anger is blinding you to what a fool you’re making of yourself by projecting on to me your own illiteracy.

  • John Briggs

    I am not sure I am as convinced as the N.Y. Times reporters were about Apple’s true motives for assembling its products in China. 

    A couple of points.  First, if the U.S. is so ill suited for
    manufacturing, why do we still have more than 11 million people in the
    manufacturing sector? Second, if Apple needs to be in China because it needs
    all the inputs for the iPhone and iPad to be close at hand, why are 95% of the
    parts that are in an iPhone and iPad manufactured in nations other than China? iPhones
    and iPads are not “manufactured in China”, they are assembled in China with
    parts manufactured elsewhere. That is why Foxconn can move
    a large share of its iPad production to Brazil; iPads can be assembled
    almost anywhere.   iPhones and iPads could
    be assembled in this country by electronics assemblers making over $13.00 an
    hour.   Of course to keep the price of
    the iPad the same, Apple would need to cut its margin from 55% to 38%. If you
    are interested in this question, please visit my blog at simply-american.net
    and find the article “Comparing
    Apples to Apples.” Tim Worstall of Forbes.com wrote a piece on that
    post that is also interesting to read; you can find it at http://www.forbes.com/sites/ti….
    If Apple wants to assemble iPads in China and Brazil so it can make more money,
    so be it. But they should be honest about their reason for locating their
    facilities in those countries.
    Thanks,
    John Briggs

  • John Briggs

    Thank you nolavabo for your thoughful comment.

  • imajoebob

    Give it up. You’re even MORE stupid than these right-wing whores’ target market.

    How much money has Sarah Palin made spewing false bromides, pabulum, and red meat to you and the rest of the right wing Borg? Your lot has voluntarily transferred MILLIONS of dollars into her BANK accounts for saying nothing of intellect or integrity for the past 3 years. How much more simple do you need this?

    Wait. That’s likely a bottomless well.

  • J.

    Apple vs. Microsoft is the same.The argument is a non starter There is no difference. Just because a “hipster” wearing a turtleneck tells you one is better should you believe it?

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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