In this week’s Daily Evolver we examine the recent news about working conditions in China’s manufacturing plants, with Apple products like the iPhone and iPad at the center of this controversy. As much as we love Apple’s products and the value they bring to our lives, how do we assess the conditions under which they are manufactured in places like China? What is our own responsibility as consumers in terms of looking at the shadow side of Apple’s presence in the manufacturing world?

Jeff and David examine the strengths of modernity’s relentless drive to increase profits, generate wealth, and raise the standard of living for everyone involved. But what happens when the developed world begins to come to terms with the substandard conditions workers in many developing nations labor under? Do we have a right to demand that American companies like Apple set a higher standard? What do we say to cultural commentators who point out that people in China are lining up to work in these plants, because they offer a major improvement over their rural lifestyles? How do we respond when a grievance petition initiated by workers in these plants is delivered to Apple’s flagship store in New York City? Jeff and David also note that this global conversation is not limited to electronics, and are also witnessing animal rights debates concerning food production.

Where are the leverage points for taking action? From one perspective, it is unrealistic for companies manufacturing overseas to bear the hugely increased costs of making products in the United States. Yet, once we expand our awareness of how many of our favorite products and foods are manufactured, don’t we simply have to care? Would you pay more for a product that was manufactured in the United States as part of your practice of global solidarity with workers in the developing world?

Listen to an excerpt below. The full audio is here on