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Apple as Slavemaster

John Rowland

Posted on January 12, 2020 21:04

3 users

Is Apple a modern-day slavemaster? Some think so.

Most multi-national companies want consumers to believe that their products follow socially and environmentally responsible standards; that's just how the corporate landscape is these days -- it's all part of their income statements (expense) and balance sheets (goodwill).

On March 28, 2018, this observer remarked on Apple's sordid involvement with child labor and cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Accordingly, on December 15, 2019, the International Rights Advocates (IRA) filed a lawsuit against Apple (and other tech giants like Google and Dell) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint was filed on behalf of Congolese families whose children have been hurt or killed . . . mining cobalt.

Called "the new gasoline" by Goldman Sachs, cobalt is an instrumental input in many technology goods -- like the iPhone.

Again, the DRC contains over 60% of the world's cobalt.

As the public face of Apple, it's (CEO) Tim Cook's job to be a more effective manager and leader.

Armed with $100 billion in cash and a market cap of $1.33 trillion, Cook has failed to be a "difference maker" in the area of human rights through any necessary social/environmental investment to help safeguard the young children of the DRC; Apple's cryptic, corporatist language of "supply chain audits and risk assessments" isn't good enough. The kids are maimed . . . or dead.

But to be fair, it works both ways.

Apple's fat balance sheet necessarily makes it a deep-pockets target.

Is IRA engaging in a frivolous legal shake-down; an exercise in self-serving indignation, hoping to squeeze a substantial settlement from the tech giants? You decide.

Its lawsuit is embellished with emotional appeals -- a document replete with charged, slanted language: "cruel"; "brutal"; "forced"; "extremely primitive"; "rapacious"; "horrific" and on and on -- you get the idea.

IRA even invokes religion and conflates present-day conditions in the DRC with slave ownership and trade "between the 16th and 19th centuries"; positing wealthy Tim Cook as the modern-day wealthy Aaron Lopez (the wealthiest slave merchant in Newport, RI).

The complaint starts to read like some social studies diatribe. But then maybe that's just the job of a lead counsel.

Anyway, IRAdvocates goes on to summarize: "Rather than step up to help these children with a negligible portion of their vast wealth and power, these companies do nothing but continue to benefit from cheap cobalt mined by kids robbed of their childhoods, their health, and for far too many, their lives."

John Rowland

Posted on January 12, 2020 21:04

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Source: NBC New York

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