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The International Writers Magazine: Man v Machine

Apple's Capitalist Cash Cart
• Paul Hunt
It’s among the largest current U.S. corporate cash payouts - a US$10 billion annual dividend program announced by Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook.  He’s moving quickly, after taking over from Steve Jobs, to fulfil investors’ desires with a quarterly dividend and share buyback that will pay out US$45 billion over three years from its much larger stack of cash.

Isn’t it ironic that Tim Cook made his mark revealing Apple’s production partners and subsequently initiating investigations into allegations of labor abuse in its supply chain?

Mike Daisey, who made the wider public aware of labor abuse at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant in China, recently had to retract some things found to be false. However, he says that although he may have got some facts wrong, his criticism of labor practices at Apple’s main supplier, electronics assembler Foxconn, generally remains correct.

Apple may be seen by many to be on a roll after all this publicity and the proposed tipping of its cash cart into investors laps. But there’s a question NOT asked by the established media: Why is a hog’s share of profits going to investors rather than the workers who produce the goods?

Foxconn, one of the world’s largest employers with about one million workers, is now allegedly considering the construction of robot-manned factories. This is a decision undoubtedly based on the consideration of the economic costs of human workers versus machines.

So it looks like Foxconn will soon be kicking Chinese workers out using euphemisms like “early retirement”, “extended leave”, “contract labor”, etc. Perhaps this will solve the problem of labor abuse in some eyes... paid-off investor eyes, Apple management’s eyes, and even in Tim Cook’s eyes. But it doesn’t!

The capitalist machine and cash cart rolls on. The rich get richer, while the poor get even poorer. This is the inevitable result of assumptions laid down on the road of corporate, economic and technological development. Where is it leading? We see it already! The super-rich wallow like pigs in pearl-rich oyster soup, while the jobless poor beg for an empty shell of an existence.

Tim Cook - you’ve cooked up some hell of a soup there in your kitchen at Apple. Don’t you think it’s a pity your pearl soup is being fed to those who have, rather than those who have not? You cannot bypass labor abuse by replacing labor with machines. But that’s the logic which controls you.

John Mauldin on his new toy: “I did get my iPad 3 on time. No line, in stock at the local Apple store. I decided to try when I got a few emails from analyst types who actually go to stores to check on lines and inventory instead of just looking at numbers. Lines were down, for whatever reason. And inexplicably to me, there is absolutely no visual difference between the iPad 3 and the 2. None. And there is nothing on the box to reassure you that you actually got the 3, if you don’t get the 4G. Now, the 4G speed is cool, and I can see the increased processor speed, and the display is in fact nicer. Not sure, unless you are an early adopter or hooked on speed (as I am) that the need will be there to buy up. And if you don’t get the 4G? There is no difference in connection speed. And Apple stock is priced for perfection. Just saying…”

Apple Inside News

© Paul Hunt

Also by Paul Hunt: AkhaPH.htm

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