- Innovation creates markets for new toys
- Growing markets make for more manufacturing jobs
- To support the increasing demand, manufacturing turns to wage slavery
“Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache,” said Terry Gou, chairman of Taiwan’s Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn.
This was his statement at the end of year party, and considering recent events in Foxconn; Gou picked a regrettable choice of words.
Unfortunately, what could just be poor wording is made much worse by the fact that he also suggested he wanted to learn management techniques from Chin Shin-Chien, director of Tapei [sic] Zoo.
To make matters worse, he invited Chin to speak and asked his general managers to listen to his advice, as well as inviting him to take part in his company’s annual review.
Gou and his general managers apparently listened carefully as Chin provided advice as to how to manage different types of animals, and asked Chin to put himself in the position of Hon Hai’s chairman. It seems, unfortunately, there’s a bit more than just jest to this analogy.
These remarks should resonate with those of us in the United States familiar with the pro-slavery rhetoric that flourished in the years leading up to the Civil War, if not with our own subsequent confrontation with wage slavery that eventually led to the rise of labor unions.
I am not suggesting a Luddite revival committed to the destruction of all machines in factories. However, the underlying Luddite argument was that innovation was making life better for a select few while making it much worse for the general labor force. The real toxicity of innovation comes not from the inventiveness of the imaginative mind but from the translation of that inventiveness into benefits for an elite community of investors, taking a public-be-damned attitude to everyone else, even when “everyone else” is a major population sector depending on manufacturing to provide a living wage, whether in Asia on in European countries like Greece. Meanwhile, that elite community is about to gather, once again, in Davos and play with their numbers and mathematical theories; and they are likely to continue their games in serene oblivion, since it is unlikely that any of the “Occupy” movements have the scratch to set up camp in Davos!