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Jim Hightower
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 8 February 2012
“They can make iPhones and anything else right here in America — but they care more about their bottom lines than their country or their workers, and it’s time to call them on it.”

What’s in Your iPhone?

Early last year, during an intimate chat and chew dinner with some Silicon Valley high-tech barons, President Barack Obama posed a question to Steve Jobs, baron of the Apple empire: "What would it take to make iPhones in the United States?"

Good question! To rebuild our middle class, we need to put more people to work building more stuff in America, rather than shipping all that manufacturing off to China. Instead of answering, however, Jobs dodged the question with a blunt retort: "Those jobs aren't coming back."

Well, why not? Why shouldn't American corporations go all-out to help meet the obvious economic needs of the nation that nurtures them? The high-techers don't mention the obvious reasons for their jobs dodge: raw corporate selfishness. Top executives and investors pocket more for themselves by hiring a cheap, easily exploitable offshore workforce. Rather than looking inward, however, they blame America.

First, they wail that American schools are failing to produce the high-skilled workers they need, so they must go abroad. Aside from that being nonsense, these very executives constantly demand that local governments exempt them from paying the taxes necessary to improve schools.

Second, they say that the U.S. lacks an integrated supply chain, which would locate makers of assorted computer parts right next door to assembly plants. But, wait — that's their fault. Apple, Dell and the like have the market clout to entice suppliers to relocate anywhere in America. Indeed, U.S. suppliers say that the reason they've relocated their production units to China is because that's where Apple et al. went.

Finally, industry leaders blame us, their customers! They assert that we insist on getting a new, cheap iGadget every year, no matter where it's made or how workers are treated, so we've forced them to abandon America.

Hogwash. Obama asked the right questions, but why accept phony answers thrown at him by these high-tech elites? They can make iPhones and anything else right here in America — but they care more about their bottom lines than their country or their workers, and it's time to call them on it.

One who should've been called out was Steve Jobs — not because he was a billionaire superstar, but because he was in fact an industry leader who could've changed Silicon Valley's culture of over-pampered narcissism.

After his death in October, this conjurer of such marvels as iPhones and iPads was eulogized as an inventive genius, an icon of American entrepreneurship and a visionary in the footsteps of Thomas Edison. Yes, Jobs was all that. And less.

Less, because he knew that a serious flaw was being built into every one of his iGadgets — a flaw that he wouldn't fix and kept trying to cover up: Apple's systematic exploitation of the workers who manufacture the electronic wonders that made him a billionaire.

Once proud that its products were "made in the USA," Apple today is the Wal-Mart of high-tech, profiting by taking advantage of powerless foreign labor. Practically all of the 70 million iPhones and 30 million iPads sold last year were produced in foreign-owned factories, mostly in China, that constitute Apple's global supply chain and are integral to its profitable business model.

Apple insists that it has a strict code of conduct to assure that those workers are fairly treated. In 2010, Jobs himself gushed about one of the Chinese factories in his system. "It's a factory, but my gosh, I mean, they've got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools ... it's a pretty nice factory."

But, gosh — independent investigators report that workers are hardly enjoying leisurely swims. Instead, 72-hours workweeks, forced overtime, debilitating stress injuries, child labor, overcrowded barracks, chemical poisonings, falsified records, humiliating punishments and deadly explosions are the realities of that "pretty nice factory." But human rights organizations say that Apple routinely tries to hush up such unpleasantness rather than confront its ethical conflicts. "If they committed to building a conflict-free iPhone," a corporate accountability advocate says, it would transform technology."

Apple's own internal audits found that more than half of its suppliers have been violating its code of conduct every year since 2007. But Jobs, a problem-solving genius with enormous power over his suppliers, simply let it go. As a former Apple executive noted, "If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?"

Jobs certainly did build genius into your iPhone, but he also slipped thousands of human cogs into it. Apparently he had no app for corporate morality.


Author pic
ABOUT Jim Hightower
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

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NDBIId whoorluycooq

Is there any way to get AVG

Is there any way to get AVG Rescue CD to mount RAID 0? It's not finnidg my volumes. Freaking AVG. Won't be using them again after this whole thing.

Anyone who is silly enough to

Anyone who is silly enough to buy an iphone would pay the extra money to get one. Personally I don't have one, don't need one and would never buy an Apple product so long as they are made overseas. Having said that, I must confess that I do love their computers. I just won't buy from a company that puts profit over people and I have more money in my pockets these days. It amazes me the things I've learned to live without.

We should at least pass a

We should at least pass a real Patriot act making it illegal for the flag of our nation or any ressemblence thereof to be made anywhere but here in the USA using only made in the USA components. It is treason to see "made in china" on our flag and "printed in china" on copies of the US Constitution just so the wall street elite can make an extra penny.

Excellent response. The

Excellent response. The irony... the Capitalist King slowly drowns in it's own sea of debt grasping at the newest and brightest devices coming out of Communist King factories.

What Steve didn't seem to

What Steve didn't seem to know is that Jobs IS coming back.

jussmartenuf's picture

You are correct. Health care

You are correct. Health care reform did not go far enough. About $600 billion of our health care costs each year are siphoned off by the insurance industry through operating costs and profits. You are wrong that costs may go up when mandated insurance goes into effect. Costs have already gone down according to the GAO and will go down further as the legislation limits the amount of profit by requiring the companies health care utilization ratio to change. The cost of single payer administration would go even further to reduce costs as proven by the fact that administration costs for Medicare, which is single payer, are 2 - 3% vs. 30% plus for the insurance industry. The insurance industry is a stock holder investor advocate, not a patient advocate as the Affordable Health Care act is. That is the reason the Republicans keep a full court lie/disinformation program going against Obamacare, they are playing to the insurance industry that owns them.

I recently read a similar

I recently read a similar article in which it was stated that if iphones were made in the US they would cost $65 more. I still think people would still buy just as many, an extra $65 would not deter most people from purchasing one.

Oh my! Can it really be true

Oh my! Can it really be true that the poor are being exploited by the wealthy? Is it true that it is profit and not morality that drives Wall St.? Perhaps if more of us were aware of this and really, no really,really cared, we could vote with our dollars and send a message even the largest, richest conglomerate could not ignore. Well, that being said, and having discharged my moral obligation to "care", I'll go back to playing with all the gadgets that make me cool. See y'all at Walmart.

If we stop buying the crap,

If we stop buying the crap, they'll wake up. As long as everyone "needs" an iphone, Apple has license to exploit anyone they want. If Americans demanded quality companies over quantity of products, the jobs would come back. Stop buying Chinese crap made in sweat shops. Do without like Grandma did. Problem solved.

I am generally a hard-eyed

I am generally a hard-eyed realist. That said, however, I also believe that Americans can be appealed to with love of, and loyalty, to America. Deservedly or not, the whole world held Steve Jobs in awe. If Steve Jobs had only said the word, Apple's world class marketing department could have marketed an American-made I-Phone as *the* prestige symbol. Owning one would be proof that not only could you afford to pay a few bucks more but also that you loved America. Steve Jobs had the iconic status to make this a reality. He chose not to do it. Fuck Steve Jobs.

Jobs may have been fairly

Jobs may have been fairly smart and no doubt lucky, but in the final call, he was a product guy, not a money guy. In just about any large industrial organization, those tend to be two counter-vailing theologies that don't really trust each other, (similar to the "fact-based-community" and the tea bag party). If Jobs can dream up an iPhone, you can bet that the Wall St. douche bags that fronted the money to make massive scale production of such will have demanded that the production be moved offshore. No different than the tack taken by wal-mart, forcing production into the cheapest (and consequently the most damaging socially, environmentally and economically for the nation that was presumed to be the consumers of the iPhones). Jobs may or may not have had some heft to throw in the name of American jobs, but he wasn't going to go against his sugar daddies, whomever they may be and if he did, it would not have been in the interests of American workers. I don't get the impression that that was a moving issue for Mr. Jobs. In addition to being a product guru, he was and continues to be the role model for a generation of silicon valley go-go industrialists. Remember, back in the ripe and swollen silicon valley boom? There were start ups that couldn't get out of the way of the money that was being thrown at them by Wall St. They even went so far as to inform us mortals that waiting around for a profit was the "old paradigm". The new action-action-action companies simply sat on their fantastic, revolutionary, bigger-than-the-light-bulb ideas and waited for Wall St. to pay even greater homage to their Promothean genius by showering them with even more money. Actually selling a product was it seems, beneath the station of true genius. Money people are a little more pragmatic than that. They had the purse strings and they eventually called the shots and the shot was; doing business in the US cost too much because of the cost of keeping their effluents out of the environment, of providing a living wage in a nation that had a kind of fetish about providing food and housing for the people who do the work, and the price of an already expensive and sub-functional health care system. Those things effect the "share-holder value" of company stock and that's not good now, is it?

Jobs did precious little, so it appears, to fight to keep Apple jobs on these shores. He was a product guy. While the iPhone may be a revolution in portable phones, and the iPad a revolution in personal computing, (and they are certainly clever by any measure), If we as a nation, as a culture, believe that all our life requires is a better means to make a phone call, we are the problem. Not Jobs and not Wall St. How many Americans refusing to buy any more iPhones would be required to make Apple think again about those jobs that "won't be coming back."?

It is invariably the money people that compel decisions like Apple's. Products people have no stomach to fight such decisions for the obvious reasons. They like their jobs and no small measure of their net worth is in company stock, so they too have a vested interest in "share-holder value". There is simply no financial incentive for them to contest the issue. If there is a recognizable enemy to the interests of American workers, it is Wall St. commercial banks and their proxies. Share-holder value is the ruling ethique. Not jobs, not the environment, not the flag or this nation or it's government or it's people. In fact, I believe that the mitt romney types out there believe it is high time for this nation, at least those 99% of this nation, to begin to lower our expectations to be more aligned with people in China. When we are reduced to living with two whole generations in a two bedroom apartment, then we'll be in a position to compete with the Chinese, for wages that are competitive with Chinese.

Oh, I thought this article

Oh, I thought this article was going to be about Coltan. The mineral that is causing massive enslavement and pillaging in the Congo. You can read more on how our addiction to high tech harms millions of lives here -

Since we're on the subject of Steve Jobs and Iphones, here's my take on the link to cancer -

Like most of us, I've been reading up on Steve Jobs. I have to admit that I admire him in spite of his belief that he could twist reality to his mind's beliefs and that he was a big jerk to a lot of people. Apparently people around Jobs claimed that he had a reality distortion field. This claim came about because he would make demands that could not be met and. voila, they were met. He had a way of making things happen. But it is very sad that he was not successful with his cancer. According to an article in the Washington Post he tried many alternative therapies. The article goes on to state: The book delves into Jobs' decision to delay surgery for nine months after learning in October 2003 that he had a neuroendocrine tumor — a relatively rare type of pancreatic cancer that normally grows more slowly and is therefore more treatable.

It the book, Cross Currents, Robert Becker, MD wrote, "At this time, the scientific evidence is absolutely conclusive: 50-60 Hz magnetic fields cause human cancer cells to permanently increase their rate of growth by as much 1,600 per cent and to develop more malignant characteristics." Dr. Becker studied the effects of EMF/RF for over 20 years and applied the increase of cell growth from EMF to help heal bones He documented that there was an increase in the incidence of cancers that are in tissues with continuous rates of cell division (1975 - 1990). These cancers are lymphoma, myeloma, melanoma, breast , testicular, prancreatic, kidney and colon.

All electronics have EMFs. Our wireless products also emit microwaves which have been shown to be even more cancer inducing as they interfere with the recombining of DNA leading to more double strand breaks, disrupt the blood brain barrier; inhibit the pineal gland's production of the essential anti-cancer endocrine melatonin; disrupt normal sleep patterns; induce ion exchange reactions; interfere with the influx and efflux mechanisms of neurones; increase the manufacture of chronic levels of heat-shock proteins with repeated exposures; and result in inflammatory responses.

Steve Jobs apparent belief system did not save him from the inevitable. It is hard for me to believe he did not know of the harmful effects of EMF/RF, but perhaps he thought he was so immune from harm that there was no reason to care. If he did, it is clear that his belief system offered him no protection. Robert Kane, an engineer with Motorola had no such belief system and after he developed burns and later a brain tumor he suspected a connection to his work on prototype cell phones. His book, Cellular Telephone, Russian Roulette chronicles the evidence to date (2001) regarding the toxic biological effects of EMF/RF. Kane unsuccessfully sued Motorola for the brain tumor which later claimed his life. In his book he wrote about the belief systems of the corporate world:


The industry claims of safety amount to a belief system but not science. They have repeated wishful thinking among themselves so often and for so many years now that they have come to think that it has some basis, but it has none. The industry would have us believe that since only some of the research provides evidence of tumor growth and mental function effects there is no scientific proof of danger...

...ninety-nine poorly performed experiments do not wipe away the scientific importance of one valid experiment that shows radiofrequency radiation has the damaging effects that we now know...

Typically, the most recent research study will be reported as a revelation to be investigated further while industry continues to treat each such study as if it were isolated in the scientific universe. By keeping the findings uncollected and the data dissembled the financially interested parties can continue business as usual. Business as usual amounts to utilizing their substantial resources to employ various media to broadcast the industry "belief system". The 'belief system" renounces or buries unfavorable scientific findings.

This monograph takes a bold step backward by providing a broad view of the scientific landscape that clearly advises us that there is danger here. The bold step back ward is a historical accounting of the research that is available, has been available for forty years or more, and has been neglected or buried by an industry that will place its absolute need to sell products above the health and well-being of its own customers. The practice of producing such products can only be viewed as predatory.

Kane explains how our exposure guidelines are based on an experiment with rats. The determination was that humans can withstand exposure up to the point where the rats activity declined to 33% of normal. That is pretty hard to believe. So we are all to get microwaved to the point to where our activity levels decline to 33% of normal. Their basis was not set on recorded biological effects. I don't know about you, but I do not want to live in a world where we can only perform at 33%. I want 100%. That is just about the most unscientific belief system ever. It is hard to believe that humans can be so irrational, but we prove it over and over.

From Camilla Rees:
I am pleased to share with you research published yesterday by members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Radiation Biology. Radiation Ecology (Volume 51, No.5, 2011), showing serious cognitive declines in children using cellular communications in a 4-year study.
Dr. Yury Grigoriev, who heads the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection in Russia says,”Over the four-year monitoring of 196 children ages 7-12 who were users of mobile communication devices, a steady decline in these parameters from high values to bottom standards, compared to controls, was observed.”
Summaries of the 2-part study are posted at
The study itself is in Russian, and is linked here, as well. This news is very important, and reinforces what Thomas Rau, MD of the Paracelsus Clinic said in his interview with Electromagnetic–that if we continue to expose children to this radiation, we will end up with “Dumb Children”. Maybe this prospect will get the attention of larger numbers of people now.
I think it is high time we refocus the discussion about this emerging public health issue to include, beyond the predictions for brain tumors growth (which are unfortunately now starting to manifest in the recent trend data from UK, Israel, Finland and Norway), the cognitive effects on us all, which are happening to many people and now. Other priorities should be the DNA effects, and the potential long term consequences for children, and for the human species, from blanketing ourselves in this radiation. Our voices must get louder. And we must together press for long-term solutions to this problem.

If you want to read more on this topic, I'll leave off with a good site and some excerpts from it. You won't find this information in the main stream media. In fact even my comments were blocked when I posted to the Washington Post. Granted I don't know if it was by the Post or if it was by some other nefarious force. I didn't have time to write to them when it happened and I have found in the past that when I was blocked and wrote in that my posts then went through.

The principle of this site is that EMR poses to us (and other life on this planet) very grave dangers.

Our position is that:

The science is incontrovertible.
The danger is almost omnipresent.
The political and economic motivations that have given rise to the environmental situation are disgusting and unforgivable.
The need for rectification of this situation is immediate and urgent.


The secondary problem is a general refusal of the telecommunications and military establishments (and their associated parasitic growths in science, government and institution) to acknowledge that (nominally defined) "non-thermal" levels of RF can do harm to biological systems.

On this latter problem we defer to Biophysics expert Professor G.J. Hyland who has written:

What the Industry and the various regulatory bodies (such as the NRPB and ICNIRP) dispute is that the very weak, pulsed microwave radiation used in GSM and TETRA can non-thermally affect these various biological (electrical) activities in ways that can provoke adverse health reactions. Their difficulty in accepting this reality is due to an out-dated 'linear' mentality, within which forces the conclusion that exposure to weak radiation can entail only correspondingly weak effects, and vice versa. Whilst this is true in the case of inanimate systems and dead organisms, it is certainly not so either for energised electronic equipment, or for living organisms. For the latter, in consequence of their vitality, are themselves electromagnetic instruments of great and exquisite sensitivity, and thereby vulnerable to interference by weak external electromagnetic fields whose frequencies are close to those found in the alive organism.

Hyland here hits the nail upon the head: 'athermal' levels of radiation can easily be biologically significant for any living organism. (This point will be revisted over and over within the contents of this website.) The fact that the mechanisms of effect are poorly understood (and sometimes not linear with relation to signal characteristics) is often used by what we will call the EMR establishment as some deranged (and certainly illogical/fallacious) justification for excluding it as evidence, which only calls more attention to the bias which is being applied to the assessment of the issues...

The use of the adjective

The use of the adjective "corporate" leads to many mundane phrases--as in "corporate headquarters" or "corporate authority." It also leads to copious creation of disgusting oxymorons--as in "corporate morality," "corporate responsibility," or "corporate ethics." The only code of ethics, responsibility, or morality that matters to the capitalist is profit. It's "the bottom line."

In relation to issues of exploitation and production peccadilloes, only one point needs explication. Until working people display the consciousness of their global condition and show the power to insist on international unity among wage earners, their 'betters' and employers will play them for suckers, turning them against each other instead of toward a manifestation of their own potency.

In other words, where manufacturing takes place isn't the issue. China is not to blame. Either people stand up to capitalism, or things will get worse. Unfortunately, the glib intelligence of Mr. Hightower notwithstanding, this article fails to deliver that message.

The cell phones frequency is

The cell phones frequency is the problem currently with the inability of our honey bees to re-track the location of their hives! This has been done strategically speaking over the last thirty years by our biggest enemy which is now the elite. We now need to change this small aspect of our hand held devices so as to no longer infringe upon our natural pollinator's the bees! This next fall the truth will come out concerning both of our bought and paid for political parties by the sweeping victory of a independent third party member. He may even have Jessie Ventura, as his VP candidate.
I hereby predict that the great "time of tribulation" will begin this coming summer of 2012. Anybody want to place their spiritual bets?

Who calls the shots? The

Who calls the shots? The 1%.Who buys their gadgets? The other 99%.Who let themselves be bamboozled by the msm? The 99%As long as the masses do not stand up for themselves and find the TV and their booze or drugs more important, the status quo will continue, until we reach the point of no return. Orwell`s novel 1984 may have meant to be just that, a novel, but it is beginning to resemble reality to a very scary degree.The Constitution has been effectively shredded and this president saw fit, to sign that NDAA into law, all indicators, that we are being prepared for the last coup against what little bit of freedom we still have left, which has never been lower, than since GW. occupied the White House.

Like most geniuses, Jobs was

Like most geniuses, Jobs was a one-sided star, a sort of Idiot Savant, capable of building a company that created great feats of product development and marketing. But he missed out on his most important opportunity: to leave something behind that bettered the world. Apple's computers and mobile devices - let's face it - have definitely made a lot of people happy. But bettering the world? Hardly. That's silicon valley delusion. Bettering the world starts with Apple spending some of that $100Bn to set a blueprint for successful high tech manufacturing here in the US. They've already demonstrated that customers are willing to pay extra for Apple. So much extra that Apple's profits could easily be used for a return to US manufacturing without denting their stock. And even if it dented it a bit... so what? It's still a great investment.Metaphysically speaking the spiritual cause of pancreatic cancer is self-hatred and self-rejection. In other words, Jobs' success was all about him, an effort to prove to himself that he was worthwhile. And like most obsessions, it brings the sufferer the exact opposite of what they seek: his life wasted on self-gratification instead of leaving a lasting positive mark on the world, a lost opportunity.

Great article. The whole

Great article. The whole culture has to change; we need to get away from profit at any cost thinking and think more wholistically about what's good for us as a people and for the planet we're depending on. Articles like this help a lot.

Obama asked in his SOTU address for Congress to send him bills that made it more expensive to sell overseas (right now taxes are lower for shipping jobs overseas than keeping them here) and less expensive to bring jobs back. That's a good answer to Jobs' statement that "they're not coming back" and a good start.

I think that one of the

I think that one of the problems is that the cost of health care in our society is holding back our ability to bring back jobs. The cost to employers that want to provide health insurance is too high. When the mandated health insurance kicks in then the cost for employers may go up. I am not against mandated health care. I think that Obama Care did not go far enough.
I think that insurance companies should not be allowed to be for profit corporations. They should be not for profit entities. Their job is to provide insurance for their customers, not to provide share holder value. It is a conflict of interest.

I agree. HC costs are out of

I agree. HC costs are out of control, it is allowed fees/charges that have no relation to any economic model, not even basic supply and demand.

It is now, a parasite and should be addressed as such - removed.

"Out of control", "parasite",

"Out of control", "parasite", "now"? It has ALWAYS been the most inefficient system of healthcare in the world when you factor in the number of people covered for the number of dollars spent. It never had any "relation to any economic model" other than pure greed. It was the single most significant indicator of that Social Darwinist approach to people at the bottom end of society's spectrum when you had forty to fifty million people with no health coverage at any given time. What a black eye for the US!

CAPTVIC thinks that it has prevented bringing back jobs. One invisible effect of the cost of healthcare is the number of good people that it has kept out. Just on a personal level, we had green cards to immigrate into the US back in 1991 but decided against it specifically because of for-profit health insurance.

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