How do they expect us to write a book report
Of any quality…
in just two days….!?
Microsoft’s highly successful Xbox series is set to release its next iteration, the Xbox One, on November 22nd. The Xbox one is the third installation of the Xbox video game console series since the original Xbox was released in November of 2001, which was followed by the release of the Xbox 360 in November of 2005. Total Xbox sales have surpassed 100 million units. With that many units rolling out the door, you can expect lots of happy executives, shareholders and consumers.
The effect of the Xbox One’s launch should be felt in more than just living rooms and boardrooms. Watch dog groups are also watching the release of the Xbox. Foxconn, major manufacturer of Xbox consoles, (as well products for Apple, Sony and Acer to name a few) is notorious for working conditions worse than the industrial revolution. In the early 20th century, Upton Sinclair wrote the seminal book The Jungle about disgusting and hopeless working conditions in the American meatpacking industry. If Mr. Sinclair were still alive he would no-doubt be writing the 21st century story of the real life working conditions of destitute Asian factory workers in the highly lucrative consumer electronics industry.
Although the consumer electronics industry is a $200 billion dollar industry, the trickle-down theory seems to stop extremely short of the mostly Chinese people that are manufacturing the electronic goods that we use not just daily, but hourly.
In 2011, Foxconn reported a fourth quarter earnings of $1 billion dollars. Its full year income for 2011 was over $35 billion.
Between January and November in the 2010, 18 people attempted suicide by jumping off of the Foxconn facilities, and 14 people succeeded. Not only have the amount of overtime hours that workers face made dormitories a necessity at Foxconn facilities, but Foxconn has installed “suicide prevention nets” around the dormitories in attempt to curb suicides. Also, workers are now made to sign no suicide pledges, and also sign legally binding documents that would forbid workers and families of workers from suing Foxconn.
According to Forbes, the average Chinese factory worker makes $656 a month while, in comparison, the average U.S. factory worker makes just under $2500 a month. Luckily for the U.S. factory worker slave wages are not the norm.
During a 2011 presidential campaign speech, Mitt Romney exclaimed that “corporations are people,” much to the dismay of the heckling crowd. But, according to the U.S law, he is sort of correct. So if corporations can be people, I ask, can corporations have souls?
Microsoft adheres to a strict Vendor Code of Conduct, which can be thought of as a capitalist’s constitution for the rights of the people. In the same fashion that I, as a naturally born American, accept the Bill of Rights as personal safety blanket against encroachments on my personal freedoms, The Vendor Code of Conduct, is supposed to ensure the rights of all workers, contractors and suppliers of Microsoft Products, while also ensuring that corporations receive the benefits and the capital that comes along by partnering with Microsoft.
While I enjoy spending hours of entertainment on my Xbox 360, I’d hate to think of it in the same fashion as a” blood diamond’. The Xbox is a great piece of intricate sophisticated technology, but at what price?
With the Vendor Code of Conduct, it seems that Microsoft has given its corporate soul a bit of a reprieve. In the advent of commercial globalization, political boundaries are overshadowed by corporate reach, and can do more than even President Obama can to try to ensure the individual rights of humans all over the world. Wagering the almighty dollar against the rights of workers in third world countries is a great start, but I ask that Microsoft keep its vendors honest, for its own good.
With all this being said, Upton Sinclair would still be turning in his grave.
If you can’t speak on radio
or act on television,
write on paper.