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Would You Pay More for an iPad Made in America?

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I love my iPad, but admit feeling a bit guilty lately.

Apple has surged to $500 a share, and grown to be worth more than Microsoft and Google combined. There are rumors that Apple might soon spit its stock or start paying dividends. To top off this good news, Apple has just risen to first place in the Harris Poll ratings of corporate reputation. This all sounds great to stockholders like myself, but the colossus is also generating unflattering news.

Apple Store

A rainy day at the Apple store, Corte Madera, California

Some analysts are arguing that the high value of Apple stock is directly related to major human rights violations in China. This is disturbing to folks who claim more than a passing interest in social and economic justice.

The New York Times reports that Foxconn, Apple’s major overseas supplier, has systematically abused the 230,000 workers assembling Apple products in China. We’re talking about inhumanly long hours, miserable pay, overcrowded dorms, a spade of suicides, and exposure to various unsafe working conditions including toxic chemicals.

In fairness, Apple has now asked an outside monitoring group, the Fair Labor Association, to look into these allegations.
But how could Apple have allowed this to happen?  It’s hard to believe that Apple didn’t know of Foxconn’s workplace practices. They probably have intelligence gatherers worthy of Mossad operatives. Why didn’t Apple do something on its own before outside pressure mounted?

According to some former Apple executives, profits and efficiency trumped social responsibility. As you might expect, current executives deny this, claiming that significant steps have been taken to right any past wrongs. Critics argue that even if Apple wants to do better, it is currently held back by a calculation that the costs of strict reform would be prohibitive. Apple once manufactured most of its products in the US, but apparently now believes Foxconn and other offshore companies offer advantages in speed and flexibility unavailable in America.

iPad V: The Steve Jobs Commemorative Edition

For those of us who feel uncomfortable about Chinese workers being exploited so that we can buy Apple products at reasonable prices, I suggest Apple open an experimental US factory and begin selling “limited additions” of its products, starting with the iconic iPad, conspicuously marked “Made in America.” Yesterday, I asked my friends Wiebke Meineke and Uwe Wagner if they thought Americans would be willing to pay more for products made in America. Their answer was a resounding “No.” I hope they’re wrong.

A Cappuccino in Apple Territory, Cafe Borrone, Menlo Park, California

Cappucino in Apple Territory, Cafe Borrone, Menlo Park, California

Apple can afford to take the risk

These new iPads would be more expensive but would have special prestige, with a unique look that says “I support American workers and am willing to pay a little more to do so.”

If this iPad is designated the “Steve Jobs Commemorative Edition,” I believe this would more than justify the higher cost.

With its current positive reputation and enormous cash reserves, Apple is in a unique position to take this risk and spearhead a movement to bring jobs back to America. Apple might not be obligated to solve America’s problems, but it sure would be good if it took steps in the right direction.


2 Responses

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  1. There is a Made in America market here in the US and in South East Asian Countries, ie Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Korea and Japan because of China’s aggression into their territories. The conflict is creating a Boycott China movement that we can profit by and stop human slave labour at the same time.

    Richard Palau

    September 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

    • Thanks for your comment. I think a made in America iPad would be a big hit. It’s initial sale could be tied in with some special event.

      Ron Greene

      September 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

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