Imagine that there's a mad scientist living on an island surrounded by treacherous, shark-infested waters. When ships are wrecked on the hidden rocks, the survivors swim to the island to escape the sharks, where they become prisoners of the mad scientist, who subjects them to bizarre experiments for his own amusement. When people point out to him that he's a monster, the scientist disagrees, saying, "Hey, those people were going to be eaten by sharks!" That's pretty much New York Times technology writer David Pogue's defense of Apple and its treatment of workers at Foxconn (NYTimes.com, 2/23/12).
In the Times Sunday Review Jesse Kornbluth writes (2/12/12): There are things that do not happen in the real world. Noam Chomsky becoming president. Unflattering photos of Jennifer Aniston. Apple doubling the price of iPhones so its Chinese assemblers can work a 40-hour week. OK, I know he's being cheeky (Chomsky hasn't declared as a presidential candidate yet), but there is still something that should be said about this idea that Apple products simply have to be manufactured in sweatshops. Last week, the Times tech writer David Pogue (2/9/12) made a similarly flawed argument: Bringing workplace standards and pay in [...]