Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

1 Million Workers. 90 Million iPhones. 17 Suicides. Who’s to Blame? [Wired]

A sample comment in response to this attention-grabbing article on the Foxconn suicides from Wired Magazine.

Kudoos to Tom
Statistics are a funny thing. During the Viet Nam war, more people were killed in the US by drunk drivers than in combat. I have seen several studies showing a young adult male between the ages of 19 and 25 is more likely to be killed in the US than killed in combat in Iraq in Iraq. That having been said, Foxconn sounds like a re-try of Pullman Illinois. (where we had the union riots that killed several people). At least Foxconn realizes the problem and is doing things to address their problems. In the US over 60% of the population is working on chemical lobotomies for themselves (that is taking psychiatric medication to numb out).

Right now in the US the third highest cause of death in children ages 5-17 is suicide. Have you heard anyone asking about that? Does anyone care that in the annals of recorded history we cannot find a time where the children were so disconnected and depressed that they were committing suicide? How about raising awareness about ourselves? What are we doing to our children? At least Foxconn put up some nets, we’ve done nothing.


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1 Million Workers. 90 Million iPhones. 17 Suicides. Who’s to Blame?
By Joel Johnson
Source – Wired Magazine, published February 28, 2011

The work at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant can be repetitive, exhausting, and alienating—like manufacturing jobs anywhere in the world. Photo: Tony Law

It’s hard not to look at the nets. Every building is skirted in them. They drape every precipice, steel poles jutting out 20 feet above the sidewalk, loosely tangled like volleyball nets in winter.

The nets went up in May, after the 11th jumper in less than a year died here. They carried a message: You can throw yourself off any building you like, as long as it isn’t one of these. And they seem to have worked. Since they were installed, the suicide rate has slowed to a trickle.

My tour guides don’t mention the nets until I do. Not to avoid the topic, I don’t think—the suicides are the reason I am at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, a bustling industrial city in southern China—but simply because they are so prevalent. Foxconn, the single largest private employer in mainland China, manufactures many of the products—motherboards, camera components, MP3 players—that make up the world’s $150 billion consumer-electronics industry. Foxconn’s output accounts for nearly 40 percent of that revenue. Altogether, the company employs about a million people, nearly half of whom work at the 20-year-old Shenzhen plant. But until two summers ago, most Americans had never heard of Foxconn. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 52 Unacceptable Practices, Beijing Consensus, Corruption, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, People, Population, Soft Power, Trade, Wired Magazine

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