As somebody who’s currently sitting in front of two computers and a smartphone, this is a must-read reminder of the costs of these devices:
The fact is, we’re going to keep buying our consumer electronics. The good news is, doing so is putting food in people’s mouths. The bad news is, it’s also putting blood on all our hands. That’s our world.
What is the Christian response?
This is a hard nut to crack, to be sure. For myself, I see at least three different viewpoints and the Christian response for each are at cross-purposes with what we are told is ‘good’.
For the workers, you have this balance between the Dickensian work conditions and that, for the economic state they live in, $2.00/day is a good, living wage. Fully 50% of the workers in the world make $2.00 or less per day with 1 in 6 making $1.00 or less per day. The situation of the workers cries out for Social Justice.
On a different note, the developed world is made of an army of consumers, trained since birth to spend until their eyes bleed (only to buy the new anti-eye-bleed medicine). For the vast majority of people, “he who dies with the most toys, wins” is a more compelling proverb than “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” Christian charity and belief in good stewardship demands we, as members of the developed world, reduce our consumption.
Finally, there are the Corporations, who turn the blood and sweat of the worker into snake oil which they sell to the developed world, oblivious and unconcerned about any moral hazard besides being caught. They are entities who are legally required to engage in that root of all evil, avarice. Without a conscience to prick, a soul to endanger or final judgment to concern themselves with, corporations, as a rule, function without conscience or moral compass yet, thanks to recent wrangling, have been given rights and privileges heretofore accorded only to mortal man. There is enough wrong there to write a book.
OK, so most Americans wouldn’t pay $15k for an iPad–would they pay somewhat more than they do now if it meant workers got better treatment? Seems like we see this in other areas–“fair trade” coffee, chocolate, etc. What about fair trade electronics? Plus, paying slightly more might mean that we buy fewer gadgets and/or replace them less often, which would probably be good for us (and good for the environment, since most electronics are pretty toxic when disposed of).