The point after: Apple's China problem, U.S. copyright conundrums, and more

Readers have words for the giants (Apple) and the patriots (the FBI) -- and praise for Windows Phone -- in Cringely's mailbag

It's been a while since I dipped into the reader mailbag and pulled out a few choice nuggets. Today, the unofficial federal holiday known as "Super Bowl Monday Hangover," seems as good a time as any to look back with amusement and ibuprofen at what riles up the residents of Cringeville.

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My post about Apple's amazing success being built on the backs of ultracheap Chinese labor ("As American as ... Apple Inc.?") got a big reaction. But reader W. T. says I'm being unfair by singling out Apple for relying on China's electro-sweatshops:

In spite of our high unemployment, Apple (or any other of the technology companies in the US) could not find workers who would sit at a work station 8 to 14 hours a day assembling tiny devices even if they paid the U.S. minimum wage. ...What do you suppose the suicide rate or level of drug abuse would be among those mythical American workers?

While working conditions in China are harsh, they are no worse than the conditions in the company-owned towns in the U.S. coal mining or steel industries of 100 years ago. When you speak of underage workers being exploited, think of the textile mills with 12-year old girls working long hours under the harshest conditions in America 150 years ago.

True enough. Over time, though, we eventually did away with most of these harsh practices. Will China do the same, especially now that it's become the electronics sweatshop for the entire developed world?

My post "MegaUpload: The content cartel strikes back" also struck a nerve. In that one I argue that our law enforcement agencies seem to have morphed into copy protection agencies. Cringester T. C. agrees that the authorities seem to have their priorities askew:

I can only ask why is it our FBI and other government offices can spend so much time on "lawbreakers" [who] download movies, share music, or anything of [that] nature, but when it comes to finding the nasty people who actually hurt others it's a bust, it seems.

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