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Foxconn's Founder Opens Up About Making iPhones

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the piece-of-the-apple-pie dept.

Businesses 384

eldavojohn writes "Bloomberg Businessweek has an article of interest resulting from a three-hour interview with Foxconn founder Terry Gou (single page), whose company manufactures 137,000 iPhones a day. The article profiles Gou's rise to Foxconn but also offers some interesting tidbits you might not know. On why he is not opening factories in the United States, Gou frankly states, 'If I can automate in the US and ship to China, cost-wise it can still be competitive. But I worry America has too many lawyers. I don't want to spend time having people sue me every day.' If you're interested in how a modern day Henry Ford thinks, you can read the rest about the man steering the ship of the world's largest producer of electronics components and China's largest exporter. This unprecedented transparency was part of an agreement Gou made with his customers during his delayed response to an increasing number of Foxconn suicides."

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Exploitation for the win! (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538658)

If I can automate in the US and ship to China, cost-wise it can still be competitive. But I worry America has too many lawyers.

He's basically worried that if he tried to pull the same shit he gets away with in China, he would be shut down. This is undoubtedly a valid concern, but it does cast a depressing light on outsourcing. Basically the US is losing manufacturing jobs because we don't let business completely stomp all over the rights of the workers anymore.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538714)

Different culture, different scenario.

A sampling of Gou's collected aphorisms: "work itself is a type of joy," "a harsh environment is a good thing," "hungry people have especially clear minds," and "an army of one thousand is easy to get, one general is tough to find."

There was a time in America's history where these ideas were prevalent. It led to a lot of worker abuse... but it also helped them to make themselves into a great country.

Not that I disagree with you, I'm just saying. It's all about perspective.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538760)

These ideas did not help make America great. They helped make robber barons rich and delayed reduced the greatness we could have achieved without robber barons leaching off all the wealth. China may be a different culture, one that has very different ideas about authority and conformity and has for longer than we in the west have been civilized, but they trade with us and what they do is an unfair trade practice. We should sue them, and if they won't change their ways, impose tariffs to address this unfairness.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538808)

And then people would complain that the government is "raising taxes" and that the costs would be passed down to the consumer.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539066)

Simple fix, lower taxes on those making under $1 million per year, to make up for the increase. To make up for that, raise taxes on those making over $1 million.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539108)

Cool idea. Then his excuse for not being here will be "Americans tax me too much."

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539230)

That is just fine, the more useless leaches "Go Galt" and flee the states, the better. We don't need those parasites. If they want to do business here, we still get to tax them until they bleed. And if they don't, great! Less competition for real American businesses.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (3, Insightful)

Cornelius the Great (555189) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539342)

Less competition for real American businesses.

Let me get this straight: you want to tax corporate interests so much that they want to leave the US. And when they do, somehow you feel that's a good thing as there is "less competition for real American businesses"?

Do you honestly believe that would be the result? I don't believe you thought your cunning plan all the way through.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538820)

You want to do something that threatens the endless supply of cheap, pointless shit lining the shelves at WalMart? I think you underestimate the popular consumer backlash that would create.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539052)

You want to do something that threatens the endless supply of cheap, pointless shit lining the shelves at WalMart? I think you underestimate the popular consumer backlash that would create.

Meh, the consumer backlash would sort itself out, due to the sudden rise of employment, manufacturing, and so on in the US. They'd piss and moan that tube socks cost more, but they'd get over it. Once upon a time we used to repair holes in socks and other clothing instead of chucking it an buying it new...this is thanks to the absurdly low cost of new thanks to exploited labour.

It really wouldn't be the end of the world if we returned to a paradigm where things initially cost more and got repaired instead of replaced.

The real backlash would come from Walmart and the other corporations.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538852)

While I don't agree with the practices in place for humanitarian reasons, I also can't agree with this:

, but they trade with us and what they do is an unfair trade practice. We should sue them, and if they won't change their ways, impose tariffs to address this unfairness

Their culture allows them to do business differently than we do; unfortunately this puts us at a disadvantage. Instead of finding better ways to compete, you're suggesting that we sue them into changing their culture - bringing them down (or raising them up, depending on perspective) to our level simply because we can't keep up?

That kind of argument scares the crap out of me, because I get the feeling people are starting to take it seriously.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539068)

We can't compete because we believe in a madle class, fair wor wages, and competition in the work force.

So either we remove all regulations and let people be indentured servants living in horrible conditions; or we raise the price for them to sell in the US unless they meet a min. standard.

THAT'S the solution to having a global economy that creates a middle class and no just exploit the poor making them poorer.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539176)

Is it so unreasonable to focus instead on producing the same products with less labor (and thus less cost) than those willing and able to propagate such practices? I'd rather be able to lead by example. Instead of legislating or regulating them into compliance, why not develop improved manufacturing technology and capability -- demonstrating that it's possible to make competitive products without "exploiting" the poor?

THis is aside from the fact that - at least from TFA - working conditions might not be quite as bad as the media hysteria has made them out to be.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539124)

I'm saying that we uphold our values and protect our interests. Is that really too much to ask of a nation that has been touted as the best on Earth?

Why should give them the benefit of our trade when they do not behave in a fair manner? You seem to be saying we shouldn't hold our trading partners accountable for their human rights violations. Why is it okay to do business with some mass murderers and not others?

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539136)

Well.....

Do you think a culture that does terrible things to the people who participate in that culture (many examples of society demanding morally reprehensible things - stoning the innocent, hanging people based on skin colour, etc) should be allowed to continue, unchecked?

I would likely agree that the best way to cause people to change is education, and not suing or taxes (the western way, for sure), but would it really be best to just let them do bad things to their people?

Don't we punish North Korea financially because of the terrible things that go on in that country? Would it be better if we traded with them freely, turning a blind eye to the human rights violations?

There's many sources of pressure, some more effective than others. It's sort of a big, unwieldly stick, money-based pressure is, but it is the easiest and longest reaching stick we have in our arsenal.

The best source of pressure is the oppressed - but in countries like those, trying to get the oppressed to open their eyes is... not easy.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539194)

Be careful not to use the developing world's "culture" as an excuse for them to seriously exploit their workers.

Anyways, it's much harder to innovate new products and business methods than it is to copy them and ship that work off to somewhere with a fraction of the wage rates and much less stringent rules about worker safety, pollution controls, etc.

And it's even worse when you look at it at the level of your average middle class adult. A person can only learn new skills so fast, and that's if you can find someone willing to help you learn.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539354)

>>>bringing them down (or raising them up, depending on perspective) to our level simply because we can't keep up?

Would you endorse trading with a nation that kills its own people, or cuts off women's noses? Like Iraq? No you would not.

Well things are not that extreme in China, but still pretty bad. The workers are treated no better than how we treated Blacks south of Maryland in the 1800s. I don't think it's too much to ask China to enforce the same or similar Rights that US and EU workers have, rather than continue along the path of crushing Chinese workers like ants in the industrial machine.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (-1, Troll)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538856)

China may be a different culture, one that has very different ideas about authority and conformity and has for longer than we in the west have been civilized

Nonsense.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539170)

Which part? China is a prime example of a hydraulic empire, [wikipedia.org] and their culture reflects that. Considering that they had their first major empire collapse in 500BC or so and six major players left were fielding million man, iron equipped armies at the time, I'm really not sure what you are referring to as 'nonsense.'

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538946)

Maybe in 100*n years the people will look back and think it's barbaric that we work 40-60 hours a week. That we have to go to war to secure energy.

Maybe they'll look back at where we are at like we look back at the Egyptians. It's damn impressive that they were able to build the pyramids, but on the other side of the coin the slavery used to achieve it is unforgivable.

Or maybe not. We probably won't last that long to find out.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539146)

Right, because we all know that trade restrictions do a great job to remove oppressive governments and working conditions. After all, thanks to that Cuba is a free country! Oh wait... Oh, I know, North Korea is now free since the western world has nothing to do with them! Oh wait...

What we consider "sub-par" here, is considered "making a living" over there. The idea that suddenly every Chinese corporation will raise working standards is laughable. What would happen is that they would employ a hell of a lot less people and make people starve because whenever countries raise tariffs it turns into a giant pissing match where they both try to raise their tariffs. So a number of things will happen.

A) China will turn inwards, cutting off trade with most people as their government turns even more oppressive and its people starve anytime there is a localized disaster.

B) Chinese corporations will lay off a massive amount of people so a lot of Chinese people starve if they aren't lucky enough to keep their jobs.

C) China raises its tariffs too both raising prices of goods in the US and decreasing US exports which hurt average people.

Creating artificial barriers to free trade is always a bad thing.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539330)

It isn't really about human rights or pollution. It really is about unfair trade. Having lax environmental and worker safety laws amounts to the same thing as directly subsidizing your industries, which the WTO frowns on.

You forgot D) China complies with worldwide standards and practices fair trade.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539148)

impose tariffs to address this unfairness

Great idea, only one downside... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Organization

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539302)

Yeah, that is the court where we sue them for subsidizing their industry through lax environmental and worker safety laws. Subsidizing your industries so that they can produce items below cost (pollution and worker medical problems are costs) is not fair trade as defined by the WTO.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (2, Insightful)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539156)

The United States relies far too much on cheap Chinese goods, because people demand lower prices. You can't get lower prices by making things here, because we also demand higher wages. Higher wages get passed on to the consumer as higher prices.

With the obvious out of the way, what you propose would shake both economies severely. People are willing to pay for the price of goods as they stand right now, which is with cheap foreign goods on the market. If these goods suddenly take a hike due to a tariff, then people will be less inclined to buy ANY goods, whether they're Chinese or domestic. Not only have you cut off Chinese revenue from exports, but you've also cut off revenue retailers over here make by selling those goods. In addition, if retailers can't sell stock, they won't order it, which negatively impacts the shipping industry. Also, if there's no demand for Chinese goods, then they will produce less, utilizing fewer resources, which impacts the raw materials market. Raw materials affects gathering and manufacturing jobs. Those in turn affect manufacturers that make the tools they would utilize. Etc, etc, etc.

It sounds like one hell of a slippery slope, but the global economy is such that one ripple can generate an enormous wave. There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" solution to the problem.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539178)

Agreed. What made America great (when it was great) was the buying power of the US citizen after World War II and Roosevelt's New Deal. Fair wages, fair tax laws, abundance of jobs. 70 percent of the wealth used to be in the hands of 90 percent of the people, now 70 percent of the wealth is in the hands of 10 percent of the people. This is due to reducing taxes on the rich, tax loopholes for the rich, wages not keeping up with inflation, decrease in benefits for American workers, Jobs moving overseas because of cheap labor (and cheap view of lives). It simply is not right that one person should have billions of dollars or even hundreds of millions. Should a corporation have access to billions of dollars? Yes so that they can mobilize resources. One person? Absolutely not. They simply do not spend enough of it on services and products the average person gets paid for to make a difference in the rest of our lives. Philanthropy and true capitalism is dead.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538720)

The problem started when slavery was abolished. That was the first mistake, and a fatal one.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538754)

Really? I read that line as a worry of a massive unexpected cost. If you can automate a whole factory, and then the UPS guy says he gets injured on your premises, you can lose 20 million easy.

No one would run a factory that was, even with the supposed horrible conditions, in the US. The labor costs alone (even if you only paid minimum wage or less) would be staggering. You'd replace as many people as possible with robots to keep costs down.

But then someone decides to sue you for something ridiculous, and your legal bills are huge. You settle or spend years spending tons of defend it. Or maybe it's a real issue, but instead of the $30k for medical bills and more for pain and suffering, they get some some like $10 million that is completely out of line relative to their injury.

His view sounds rather sane to me. And the last pages of the article point out just how good Foxcon is compared to many other Chinese employers. Conditions there don't sound anywhere near as bad as some of the stuff that when on in the US during the industrial revolution.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (3, Interesting)

FriendlyPrimate (461389) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538874)

I think that this is what he's trying to imply. However, that sounds like a cop-out answer. Are companies REALLY moving jobs to China instead of automating because of lawsuits? That's the first I've heard this angle, and I'm suspicious. I somehow doubt automation compares in cost to a workforce willing to work for less than 10% of their American counterparts.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (2, Interesting)

sl149q (1537343) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539218)

The point is that Chinese companies are not moving to the US because their PERCEPTION of the business climate in the US. For better or worse they believe that they will get sued. So why bother.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0, Flamebait)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539404)

Machines are an investment. They require maintenance, power, lubricants, ect. If your machine gets damaged, you have a direct assault to your investment. A machine needs regular attention. A human being on an assembly line is not an investment. They require a couple weeks of training which is essentially handled by another human peon. If they get damaged you can fire them without additional cost. You can always find another one and pay them the same thing you paid the one you replaced, or less while they are being trained. You don't care if the human eats enough or has proper medical care because you can always get a new one. A human requires less attention than a machine. Basically, this Foxconn dude is doing something brilliant. It goes :

1. Get human meat

2. Train human meat

3. If human meat fails, discard and go to step 1

4. Profit

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538900)

Really? I read that line as a worry of a massive unexpected cost. If you can automate a whole factory, and then the UPS guy says he gets injured on your premises, you can lose 20 million easy.

Wouldn't the factory owner's general liability insurance handle that? Which would probably be a $50K pay-off to the UPS guy and his lawyer.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538952)

Maybe you should take up reading lawsuits instead of regurgitating your bias from your echo chamber.

twit.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539030)

>>>I read that line as a worry of a massive unexpected cost.

That's because you probably don't know about Foxconn's labor violations. Even China has rules saying workers must get a break every 2 hours, and they are not allowed to work more than 50 hours per week, but Foxconn routinely ignores those rules by making workers skip the 2-hour downtime and working 70-80 hours. In the US lawyers would step-up and represent the workers in a lawsuit, but over in China the lawyers are so few that Foxconn does not have to fear.

So basically his comment can be seen as, "I prefer to stay in China because there are no lawyers here to enforce the workers' rights and laws, as there are over in the US or EU."

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539064)

>>>the $30k for medical bills and more for pain and suffering, they get some some like $10 million that is completely out of line relative to their injury.

You don't understand the concept of punitive damages do you? If you only fined a company 30,000 then it would just continue abusing workers with dangerous conditions. (As was the case with 1970s Ford when they decided it was cheaper to pay victims of blowing-up Pinto cars, rather than fix the flaw.) So courts award 30,000 actual damage PLUS the 10,000,000 punishment to make the company "hurt" and want to improve itself.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539144)

Really? I read that line as a worry of a massive unexpected cost. If you can automate a whole factory, and then the UPS guy says he gets injured on your premises, you can lose 20 million easy.

No one would run a factory that was, even with the supposed horrible conditions, in the US. The labor costs alone (even if you only paid minimum wage or less) would be staggering. You'd replace as many people as possible with robots to keep costs down.

But then someone decides to sue you for something ridiculous, and your legal bills are huge. You settle or spend years spending tons of defend it. Or maybe it's a real issue, but instead of the $30k for medical bills and more for pain and suffering, they get some some like $10 million that is completely out of line relative to their injury.

His view sounds rather sane to me. And the last pages of the article point out just how good Foxcon is compared to many other Chinese employers. Conditions there don't sound anywhere near as bad as some of the stuff that when on in the US during the industrial revolution.

Also workers frown on being chained to their machines in the US unless you can find a bunch of people into S&M. It would make for some interesting help wanted ads.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539214)

Conditions there don't sound anywhere near as bad as some of the stuff that when on in the US during the industrial revolution.

For those of you who haven't heard of it before...
Phossy Jaw.

Google it kids. Yup, in the USA too.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539254)

There is a simple solution. Make it more expensive to ship products from overseas, and penalize people severely for frivolous lawsuits.

that's one way to see it, here's another (5, Interesting)

tacokill (531275) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538770)

or....
Perhaps the US does have too many laws and lawyers. Perhaps it is more competitive to produce products somewhere else. Perhaps US workers think they are more valuable than they really are (so they erect laws to "enforce" that value). Did you ever consider that maybe it's not exploitation he is after but a better sense of balance? The world is not black and white. This is not a "workers of the world unite" vs "the evil business owners". You do recognize there is a middle ground, don't you?

This guy is telling you exactly what his risk/reward calculation is and you only look at one side of the equation.

Instead of responding with cries of exploitation, as yourself this: could he be right?

Re:that's one way to see it, here's another (2, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538864)

Instead of responding with cries of exploitation, as yourself this: could he be right?

If working people so hard they start killing themselves is right, sign me up for wrong.

I'm not a fan of imperialism but I'd actually rather America try to conquer China than emulate it if push came to shove.

Re:that's one way to see it, here's another (0, Troll)

dreadlord76 (562584) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539010)

So you rather kill them than letting them decide what conditions they would work under. Gotcha.

Re:that's one way to see it, here's another (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539054)

So you rather kill them than letting them decide what conditions they would work under. Gotcha

Nope. Was it really that hard to read my whole two sentence post?

I'd rather kill some of them than let them decide what conditions we would work under.

Re:that's one way to see it, here's another (1)

sl149q (1537343) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539278)

For the size of his work force you would expect about that number of suicides in the general population anyway. I live in Canada and a quick search said 25 males and 5 females per 100,000 of population per year in 1994.

Re:that's one way to see it, here's another (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539378)

Well you don't seem to mind using products that were made in factories where those workers worked.

Re:that's one way to see it, here's another (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539410)

Well you don't seem to mind using products that were made in factories where those workers worked.

You know what they say about assuming...

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Insightful)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538772)

Tidbits from TFA:

"a harsh environment is a good thing"
"hungry people have especially clear minds"

This man is a sadist. The sad part is that (mostly) unregulated capitalism, as it exists now in China, essentially forces him to either be an asshole or go out of business.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538876)

This man is a sadist.

Not necessarily - people who are raised in different cultures are exposed to different norms, different proverbs, etc. as they grow up.

"hungry people have especially clear minds"

I believe there is a similar saying in India that goes something like "When the belly is full, the lips start moving." It isn't a reflection of them being sadists - it is a reflection of a society that hasn't had 4-5 generations of ease and plenty behind it.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539164)

human rights are not something that should be culture-dependent - the Chinese just lack the experience of having them. Give them the rights and they will not want to surrender them ever again.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538928)

NO, it doesn't. It does give him an excuse to be that way.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539206)

Really? Suppose he does start to treat his workers decently. He raises wages, cuts work hours, introduces paid vacation, sick leave, etc. All this costs money, so he'll either have to raise prices or lower his profits.

If he raises his prices, his customers are eventually going to find a new manufacturer who doesn't treat his workers as well and is therefore cheaper. He goes out of business.

If he instead lowers his profits, then his shareholders are going to say "wtf, we want a new CEO". Even if he somehow manages to convince them that not being evil is a good thing and will benefit them in the long run, lowering profits means that at some point, he won't be able to invest in new technology to make his workforce more productive. Meanwhile, everyone else is using this new technology, and therefore able to undercut him. Again, he goes out of business.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539000)

Get back to work chairman, right Mao!

I look forward to their next piece of plastic crap tho, I hear it's to die for!

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539044)

Here, let me put those in context for you. - I keep my people hungry for more -- "hungry people have especially clear minds" - - "a harsh environment is a good thing" for people who torture kittens. - It's easy for an out-of-context sound bite to sound awful (or great); but partial second-hand quotes seldom tell the whole story and probably shouldn't be used as a basis for judgment. For reference, here's the full quote from TFA - which is itself excerpting from a book:

Prominent on display are biographies of Gou, one of which collects his many aphorisms, including "work itself is a type of joy," "a harsh environment is a good thing," "hungry people have especially clear minds," and "an army of one thousand is easy to get, one general is tough to find."

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539060)

Sigh. FOrmatting fail. Corrected:

Here, let me put those in context for you.

  • I keep my people hungry for more -- "hungry people have especially clear minds" - -
  • "a harsh environment is a good thing" for people who torture kittens. -
  • It's easy for an out-of-context sound bite to sound awful (or great); but partial second-hand quotes seldom tell the whole story and probably shouldn't be used as a basis for judgment. For reference, here's the full quote from TFA - which is itself excerpting from a book:

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539402)

I keep my people hungry for more -- "hungry people have especially clear minds" - -

Where does the first part come from? It's not in any of the two FAs. Do you know the book TFA is quoting from?

Re:Exploitation for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538776)

The key to your comment is anymore. We've made it to the top of the heap, and now we think we can and should hold other countries to the standards that we NOW hold ourselves to. That doesn't give the emerging economies room to grow like ours did. We're trying to change the rules in the middle of the game. If some Chinese laborer wants to work in horrid conditions so they can provide a better life to their children and grandchildren, let them. We did.

And don't give me that crap about "they have no other choice". Bullshit. You make the choice - shitty job with the hope for a better future, or farmer and doomed to live in poverty for the rest of your life. China and India are pulling themselves up by their boot straps just like we did. It's ugly, people die and horrible men willing to exploit others will rise to power there. But I'm willing to bet that not one person in America would be willing to trade the blood and sweat that previous generations paid through the industrial revolution and after to give themselves a little moral superiority.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (4, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538924)

But they're not doing it the way we did. You're missing a fundamental difference. Our society, our expectations, our laws had time to change as technology evolved. They're going through 150 years of technological advance in a few decades. Their big problem is not what is happening to the people today. To put it in savage terms, they have enough people that they can economically afford to treat them terribly.

The problem is that they are mortgaging the future by doing horrible, horrible things to their environment. Eventually, they'll have to fix them in order to become a 1st world nation. Take a look at Los Angeles, and what the California Air Resources Board has done to try and improve the air. Then take a look at photos of Wuhan or any of dozens of other industrial centers. You can't build a stable long term economy in a place where the air itself is debilitating. Same goes for water and soil pollution.

Take a look at Times Beach Missouri ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Times_Beach,_Missouri [wikipedia.org] ) to get an idea of what they'll be up against in the future. I'm guessing that at its worst, Times Beach was less dangerous than residential areas in China today.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (1)

AfroTrance (984230) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538884)

Basically the US is losing manufacturing jobs because we don't let business completely stomp all over the rights of the workers anymore.

From what I understand, worker rights in the US are the worst compared to any Western/Developed nation.

Exaggeration for the fail! (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539174)

If you mean that in the US (as opposed to, say, France) we maintain the right to fire workers who don't produce, to NOT have the entire work force take one and a half months' vacation every year paid, and that the companies, not the labor unions, are in charge of their own premesies? Yes, that's largely true.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539256)

From what I understand, the US is the "worst" in every possible measure. Various surveys say we are worst in healthcare. Worst in internet. Worst in transportation. Worst in taxation. Worst in lifespan. Worst in education. Worst in size of our waists. Wort quality in cars. Worst in consumer protection. And on and on and on.

I'm starting to wonder if these surveys are just political propaganda (i.e. "biased bullshit" to quote Penn&Teller) that aren't worth the paper they are printed on. For example when *I* surveyed the internet, I found the US is actually not the worst/slowest but in the #2 position worldwide, ahead of the EU, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and so on.

I think it's time we start looking at these surveys *critically* rather than just swallowing the headline and assuming it's the truth.

Re:Exploitation for the win! (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538984)

precisely.

This is why there should be a huge tariff on all goods imported from companies that don't meet min. US federal standards.

If that's too much for them to do, then someone will pen a shop in the US to cater to the US.

Having a minimum level playing field is the only way a global economy can work without dragging people into the lowest tiers of poverty.

yeah, right, the lawyers are the blame! (2, Insightful)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538660)

More likely tat he wants to exploit the worker

What workers? He's talking automation (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539088)

More likely tat he wants to exploit the worker

What workers? He said "'If I can *automate* in the US and ship to China, cost-wise it can still be competitive." He seems to be talking about replacing a manual assembly line in China with an automated/robotic assembly line in the US. You might be able to suggest that he wants to avoid environmental issues but labor issues do not seem to be relevant. As far as the US being an overly litigious environment, you will find few US citizens who would disagree.

Re:What workers? He's talking automation (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539242)

He seems to be talking about replacing a manual assembly line in China with an automated/robotic assembly line in the US.

And this is exactly what we've been seeing. US manufacturing production (in terms of dollars of product produced) was at an all-time high in 2008. However the number of manufacturing workers was at its 80-year low point. US manufacturing workers, armed with machines and robots, are becoming more and productive per worker.

This mirrors what we saw in agriculture, from most of the country working in agriculture in the late 1800's, to only 2% of Americans working in agriculture today, while producing more food overall! Powered tractors, plows, GPS aided fertilizer treatment, herbicides and pesticides dramatically increased agricultural productivity.

Manufacturing, but not jobs, returning to west (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539326)

US manufacturing production (in terms of dollars of product produced) was at an all-time high in 2008. However the number of manufacturing workers was at its 80-year low point. US manufacturing workers, armed with machines and robots, are becoming more and productive per worker.

Not just in the US. My understanding is that Germany has remained competitive in manufacturing by investing heavily in robotics. Manufacturing may return to the west but jobs won't be.

More reasons (3, Insightful)

moeluv (1785142) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538670)

not to do business in the U.S. we have all those pesky organizations like OSHA, and those weird fair labor standards laws and anti child labor laws that get in the way of a really stellar profit margin. (Yes there was some sarcasm in there)

Re:More reasons (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538938)

and the environmental laws keeping lead and other shit out of the water table. All because of our stupid environmental laws, I can't experience good'ol fashioned Industrial Revolution style air and water! I mean, our rivers don't even burn anymore! That is causing more of the wussification of America!

Re:More reasons (1)

dreadlord76 (562584) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538972)

Do you have any reason believing that Foxconn operate in an unsafe manner, or hires child labor?
Or do you believe that laws in the US should apply everywhere? Such as the Patriot Act?

Robots subject to child labor laws? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539264)

not to do business in the U.S. we have all those pesky organizations like OSHA, and those weird fair labor standards laws and anti child labor laws that get in the way of a really stellar profit margin.

'If I can *automate* in the US ..."

Minimum wage, child labor and other regulations now apply to automated/robotic assembly lines? I think the "Futurama" society may be arriving before the year 3000. ;-)

Where's my anti-Foxconn? (4, Interesting)

Lothar+0 (444996) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538706)

I'm still waiting for an iPhone manufacturer that pays its workers a decent wage and respects meaningful safety standards. I'm willing to pay an extra $100+ for my iPhone to not have a guilty conscience. C'mon invisible hand, supply my demand already.

Join me in the BUY-cott (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538882)

I am buying my new Dells for the express reason that they were built in a Foxconn plant.

The fact is that Foxconn has HALF the suicide rate of Italy, which has the LOWEST rate in Europe. Someone has decided to create a propaganda smear campaign against Foxconn. I am happily doing my part by buying Foxconn whenever I can.

Re:Where's my anti-Foxconn? (5, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539080)

I'm still waiting for an iPhone manufacturer that pays its workers a decent wage and respects meaningful safety standards. I'm willing to pay an extra $100+ for my iPhone to not have a guilty conscience. C'mon invisible hand, supply my demand already.

Because you and the other twenty people willing to do this do not a market make.

Re:Where's my anti-Foxconn? (1)

Lothar+0 (444996) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539138)

Then the thousands of iPhone buyers complaining about bad working conditions need to put up or shut up. Human rights ain't cheap, people.

Re:Where's my anti-Foxconn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539172)

I'm still waiting for an iPhone manufacturer that pays its workers a decent wage and respects meaningful safety standards.

Only one company makes an iphone - that would be Apple computer. [wikipedia.org] Screw the Americans who need a job, though they are the primary buyers of iphones.

he's not a modern day Henry Ford (4, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538710)

Ford wanted his workers to have a living wage, to be able to afford the products they made.

Foxconn doesn't even employ workers long-term, they hire on a week-by-week basis.

I actually don't even dislike Foxconn, but it's not the same as the middle-class building that Ford did.

Re:he's not a modern day Henry Ford (4, Interesting)

dreadlord76 (562584) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538886)

What data do you have to support this? My understanding is that there is a waiting list to work at Foxconn. You sign a contract to work there, with termination penalties, and there is multi-week training before you actually start working. While in training, you are paid, housed, and fed. Not saying you are wrong, but would like to learn more about where you are getting your data.

Re:he's not a modern day Henry Ford (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539076)

In America, in 2010, there's a waiting list to work at McDonald's.

Is that what makes McDonald's a great employer?

there absolutely is a waiting list (4, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539352)

In fact, you almost have to bribe someone to get a job interview!

There isn't really multi-week training, you are put on easier lines first and work up to your aptitude.

But just because there's a line to get in doesn't mean there's any job security. When things slow down, you simply aren't brought back next week.

When you get too old for the dextrous work or your fingers grow to be too large to do some work (because their lines are virtually all 16-20 year old women) or merely when someone else will do the job cheaper because they are younger, you are out on your ear.

Like I said, I don't hate Foxconn. But it's not the same as Ford where he employed workers long term and invested in their development.

Re:he's not a modern day Henry Ford (5, Informative)

homer_s (799572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539092)

Ford wanted his workers to have a living wage, to be able to afford the products they made.

From http://cafehayek.com/2010/08/fording-the-gorge-between-fiction-and-fact.html [cafehayek.com] :

Ford raised workers’ wages for two reasons, neither of which had anything to do with raising consumer demand for his automobiles. The first reason was to reduce worker turnover. In 1913, the year before the $5 wage was announced in January 1914, the average Ford employee quit after less than four months on the job. A workforce so unstable and inexperienced prevented Ford’s factories from achieving peak efficiency.

Second, because the $5 wage was conditioned upon Ford’s workers learning English, as well as their steering clear of alcohol and gambling – conditions monitored by Ford executives visiting workers’ homes! – the higher wage was an incentive for workers to be more reliable and productive while on the job.

In short, Ford was something of an early supply-sider. He understood (at least in 1914) that the key to economic growth is not in giving people stronger incentives to spend but, rather, in giving people stronger incentives to produce.

Re:he's not a modern day Henry Ford (4, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539106)

Ford wanted his workers to have a living wage, to be able to afford the products they made.

That may be the public messaging/myth, but closer analysis shows that Ford simply wanted to reduce turnover [adamsmith.org] , and also to increase productivity by linking the wage increase to learning English, as well as their steering clear of alcohol and gambling (monitored in workers homes, no less...)

Moreover, Ford did not employ enough workers for their wage hike to have a significant impact on his own sales.

That said, wages in China are rising, cutting Flextronics' [bloomberg.com] profits and forcing Foxconn to move more factories away from the high-cost coastal areas of China.

Foxconn doubled base-wages for employees in Shenzhen in June, where it has around half its 900,000 workers, but said it would cut the headcount there by about 170,000 over five years.

Re:he's not a modern day Henry Ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539120)

I agree with you good sir... not everyone whot starts a factory, sweat shop or no, is a "modern day Henry Ford". Now if he invented a new manufacturing idea of the revolutionary caliber as the assembly line, them MAYBE he would be a modern day Henry Ford. This guy is just one of a bzillion sweat shop owners seeking refuge from the US government in the arms of a foreign government.

Re:he's not a modern day Henry Ford (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539160)

Some workers, perhaps (although it would be better if you cited a source to show what Ford actually paid rather than relying on readers' familiarity of Fordism). But the workers of Fordlandia, Ford's 2.5M acre Brazilian Amazon rubber plantation, were treated quite differently. In Fordlandia, Ford "[came] to rely on quite a brutal program of anti-unionism" according to Greg Grandin author of "Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City [isbn.nu] ". Grandin discussed his book on Democracy Now! on July 2, 2009 (transcript [democracynow.org] , video [archive.org] , audio [archive.org] ):

He [Ford] relies on his thug, Harry Bennett, to enforce shop floor discipline with--that one historian compared to a totalitarian state. And so, in many ways, Fordlandia is Ford's attempt to recapture a lost innocence or this mantle of being history's redeemer. Ford revolutionizes capitalism, but then he spends most of the rest of his life trying to put the genie back into the bottle. In some ways, he's the--you could think of him as the sorcerer's apprentice. He attempts any number of experiments at social reform in the United States. He sets up these small, what he calls, village industries in northern Michigan that tries to balance agriculture and industry. Now, these were no match to the raw power of industrial capitalism. And he increasingly becomes idiosyncratic and quirky in his social vision. And Fordlandia, in many ways, is a kind of terminus of a lifetime of quite idiosyncratic ideas of how to organize society.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And he was into not only controlling the workers on the shop floor, but also their lives in general.

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And he conducted--he had his employees surveiled, watched what they were doing, how they were enjoying themselves. And did he carry that over into Brazil, as well?

GREG GRANDIN: Yeah, it was a combination of intense paternalism and intense surveillance, with the surveillance half increasing as the paternalist part fails in the United States.

In Brazil, it was a program of social regulation. He exported Prohibition. He didn't like drinking, even though it wasn't a Brazilian law. Or he tried to regulate the diet of Brazilian workers. He had very--you know, he had them eat--he was a health food nut, so he had them eating whole rice and whole wheat bread and canned Michigan peaches and oatmeal. He also tried to regulate their recreational time.

Defamation of character. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538794)

Too many lawyers?!? I find that to be slanderous, preposterous, and downright hippopotamus. I'll sue him for all the ipods in china! I'll sue china back into the stone age!

Kill all the lawyers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538826)

This just goes to PROVE that there is too much litigation and "workers rights" in the USA. We need to overhaul the system, and we should start by:

1. Making the LOSER pay for all lawsuit costs. This will, overnight, end all frivolus lawsuits.
2. Implement sweeping tort reform. If some stupid old lady spills lukewarm coffee into her lap, she should NOT get a billion dollars in damages. This is just COMMON SENSE. All damages should be capped at about $10,000, and there should not be any double dipping (ie: once a person sues for tort, they do not get to do so again, EVER).
3. Disband ALL unions *by force*. We should not sit idly by while fat cat union bosses live in luxury while jobs go overseas. Its time to put an end to the source for all of our labor troubles by outlawing unions once and for all.

Only by doing AT LEAST these three things can we ever expect jobs to return to the USA and for our position as leader in the world to return.

Re:Kill all the lawyers! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538958)

1. Making the LOSER pay for all lawsuit costs. This will, overnight, end all frivolus lawsuits.

It will also end all valid suits, where the plaintiff doesn't want to risk a multi-million dollar bill should he fail.

All damages should be capped at about $10,000

Making it quite profitable to rip people off for more than $10K.

3. Disband ALL unions *by force*.

Yes, let's end the right to peaceably assemble and force our workers into involuntary servitude. That's the American way.

Only by doing AT LEAST these three things can we ever expect jobs to return to the USA and for our position as leader in the world to return.

If that's the cost of being a world leader, I hope the US is never again a world leader.

Re:Kill all the lawyers! (2, Insightful)

TheDugong (701481) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539428)

"If some stupid old lady spills lukewarm coffee into her lap, she should NOT get a billion dollars in damages."

Third degree burns on 6% of her body, lesser burns on a further 16% of her body (that is almost a quarter of her body burned), 8 days in hospital, a skin graft and 2 years of further medical care is far from frivolous. I'd argue that any beverage that has the potential to cause injuries serious enough to require a skin graft is slightly beyond "lukewarm".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's_Restaurant [wikipedia.org]

It's the lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33538896)

Americans like to sue. That's one problem. There are trolls of all kinds and it's not good for business.

Novell and IBM have wasted too much time and too much treasure fighting SCO. It looks like Google will be distracted by Microsoft's sock puppets. RIM had to pay a patent troll a billion bucks for worthless patents.

The courts are a weapon that gets used way too much to stifle competition.

Plus (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538912)

the US isn't a corrupt 3rd world country that you can bribe epople to get your way.

Yes, yes sometime it happens. But in the US if a public employee gets got with a few thousand dollars in his refrigerator, it's a big deal. I his country it's SOP.

He's just using the over blown everyone sues republican media crap as an excuse.

And Ford he is NOT.

Re:Plus (5, Insightful)

Fred IV (587429) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539090)

the US isn't a corrupt 3rd world country that you can bribe epople to get your way.

True...we're a first world country where you can have lobbyists bribe people for you to get your way instead.

He has a point about lawyers (2, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538922)

Gou has a very good point about why manufacturing in the US is not feasible.

The moment a company becomes successful, there are lawyers lined up to look for any way they can sue to get a piece of the pie without working for it. If the lawyers fail, the government is next in line to punish the success of the company in the name of "economic justice."

America used to be the land of opportunity, but now there are so many barriers to success, one almost has to go to another country to have any chance.

Re:He has a point about lawyers (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539122)

I feel like I end up saying this a lot on Slashdot, but you do know Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction, right?

Re:He has a point about lawyers (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539300)

And yet, amazingly, none of the other first world countries seem to be attracting new business like the US does. Oh, sure, Ireland was a nice place, but then the tax-free-ride started to slip and everybody shifted. Eastern Europe was great, until jobs were being created, and then the price of labor started to go up and the quality - it turned out - really wasn't all that great.

America has a fairly well educated labor force (not great, but passible), moderate tax structure - and corporations can hide much of their taxable profits legally - and the government is just corrupt enough to be swayed (via lobbying), but not corrupt enough to require payments at all levels to get anything done.

No, America is still a great place to be in business. It has it's limits. Labor isn't cheap and most of the US cares when you dump a whole lot of toxic shit out the back door. Interestingly, if you're a very small start up - it's great. The paperwork is very low, the tax burden is almost negligible, and there is free help in a lot of areas. I run a small business, and it's really not that bad. Now, as you grow, the regulations get tighter. If you start with 1000 employees, you're going to need professional help to get your paperwork in order. But, then again, if your operation is large enough to support 1000 people, you should have the spare capital to hire 1-2 extras to "get it right."

Now, the lawyer comment isn't too far off the mark. There will always be scavengers in any society. Most companies, however, fail due to poor planning and lack of business acumen. Very few are actually brought down by lawsuits (anecdotal evidence doesn't count) and even fewer by actual, frivolous ones. Nonetheless, they get all the press. And something should be done about them - though I'm not sure how to separate them without barring real lawsuits from proceeding against the truly corrupt companies (which do exist as well).

Pot meet kettle. (3, Insightful)

codegen (103601) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538940)

In one part of the article it talks about him involved in a libel suit over the suicide reports and then he talks about being scared of lawsuits. Hmmm.

Re:Pot meet kettle. (1)

clem.dickey (102292) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539248)

In one part of the article it talks about him involved in a libel suit over the suicide reports

Good point.

It wasn't actually over the suicide reports, but over an earlier article on "working conditions." A personal libel suit against the journalists and a court order freezing their assets.

PR (4, Informative)

rakslice (90330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33538948)

"Finally, Gou's company hired the New York firm Burson-Marsteller to help devise a formal public-relations strategy, its first in more than 35 years of existence."

The concept of a company with almost 1M people without a PR strategy is refreshing, but reflecting a little bit more, what that also means is: now anything that we say about the employee suicides, even this, is being carefully managed.

Interesting read vs. US business mentality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539020)

"He is very aggressive and always on your tail".
Compared to Mr. Ivy League or Oxford primo that calls up his buddies with cash and makes deals on trust than a legit sale. Gou is the real business guy: guts, sweat, thought is spelled out in thru TFA.

Too many lawyers? Or too many laws? (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539040)

I worry America has too many lawyers. I don't want to spend time having people sue me every day.

99% of what goes on in those lawsuits is righteous protection of workers and customers from the bad or evil decisions of managers.

The other 1% is still covered by your insurance, Terry.

Your problem isn't too many lawyers (you just get your own lawyers and then it doesn't take up your time), your problem is there are laws that will keep you from doing things in ways that you deserve to be sued for.

But I'm sure your deployment of nets to catch suicidal employees is a tacit expression of your understanding that your company is somehow culpable for its own behavior and the culture it engenders in the people it aggregates to perform work that makes you an impressively rich man, hyper-impressively considering China's supposed to be a communist country... So you know that you're either doing something very right, or many things very wrong.

What's more expensive... (1)

rtilghman (736281) | more than 4 years ago | (#33539246)

Paying lawyers or paying government officials off? Is there some kind of a formula for this? How do quantify gov't graft and whim?

-rt

New Age Company/Coal Town (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539262)

Foxconn is a new age company/coal [wikipedia.org] Town. They own everything including the police. I bet that they even have their own money. US universities [blogspot.com] are doing the something similar.

Not Henry Ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539294)

This person is no Henry Ford.

Reason is Henry Ford did the unthinkable he gave a raise to his employees so they could purchase the Model T they were making. This then allowed Henry to hire people from the other manufactures and sell more cars.

This person and the others like him do not understand long term economics. He needs to improve quality and the working environment is one area. Also he needs to pay a wage which will allow his workers to purchase the products he manufactures. Reason is the US economy is going in the direction where there will be little if any consumer purchasing IPhones or any other products other then Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Choice is sell in the United States you need to Manufacture in the United States or sell in China then manufacture in China. But in both places you need to pay a wage which an employee has enough money to in the end purchase the product. If your worker can't be your consumer then you will loose in the end because you will not have any consumers.
 

what goes around... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33539334)

"says the deaths at Foxconn exhibit the characteristics of a suicide cluster, the copycat phenomenon first observed during Europe's industrialization a couple of centuries ago. "
We've been here before, (1880's and 1670's).. Foxconn is nothing different, well maybe to this generation.
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