Question About the Ethics of Buying Computers & Other Technology - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-27-2014, 09:02 AM
 
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Hi everyone! I am a new member here and a fairly new vegan (since June). I have a burning question and I want to see some other vegan's opinions on it. 

So I was recently told that I am a hypocrite because I pick and choose what to care about and boycott. He told me that since I own a laptop and a phone I was supporting very cruel companies. Apparently nearly all computers and their parts inside are made in Chinese factories that pay workers so little that its basically slave and child labor and they have very bad working conditions. He said he doesn't CARE about it but he is allowed to because he doesn't care about anything (very apathetic human). It made me think, because vegans often attack meat eaters for being "animal lovers" and working to help animals, but being a hypocrite because they still support an industry that harms them. How am I any better?

 

I know being vegan isn't particularly about human rights, but the mindset that you have as a vegan is to not support any sort of cruelty and unfairness. I don't want to give up using technology... Its easy to give up animal products because its convenient for me. He told me that I JUST gave up things that are convenient for me, and he does the same (eating meat is more convenient for him). Who am I to tell him how to live if I knowingly support something that is cruel/unfair to humans just because it would be too inconvenient to not. 

 

I'm feeling really guilty about this now. I know that we can't avoid all the **** in the world, but owning technology is a luxury and is something that you can live without, so its not the same as eating vegetables when the farmers get ****ty wages/treatment as well. We can't say "Well this only happens with SOME factories." Because that's exactly what meat eaters say to justify the cruel things they see done in farms/slaughterhouses. Do any of you know more information about the production of computers/phones etc? Are there more humane and fair companies out there? 

 

Thanks for reading, I appreciate any feedback you have. ^_^

 

 

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#2 Old 01-27-2014, 12:29 PM
 
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Hi, and welcome to the forum!

 

 

The cruelty involved in what you're talking about is the socioeconomic disparity.  

 

 

Buying technology that employs these people at low wages is not cruel- contrary to the nonsense your friend is peddling, it's better to have a job than to not have a job.

 

These people are not slaves (Unlike animals in the meat industry, nobody in China is a slave, and as a matter of fact workers rights is starting to become a big thing in China in the last couple years).  

 

Yes, some of them have kind of ****ty lives, and the jobs aren't awesomely fulfilling careers.  But they are jobs- jobs in a poor area that desperately needs jobs.

 

As these industries move in, education and living conditions slowly improve, and wages gradually rise with the GDP of these communities.

 

There are entire books devoted to the complexities involved here, and there's more than I could possibly write in one post.

 

But the bottom line is that these people are free to work or quit, or take another job at another factory in these regions- or stick to farming in most cases (there are cases of government corruption and abuse, but these aren't directly related to Western manufacturing, and corporate spotlights are actually helping a little in this regard).  

 

What we're talking about is a chaotic but relatively free market country where companies compete against each other for cheap labor.

 

They would rather have the job of assembling your computers than not.  Seriously.

 

When people freak out about the working conditions that seem, relative to first world luxuries, to be brutal and withdraw their money from the manufacturing going on in these regions because of it it results in layoffs, pay cuts, and job loss.

It's hurting them more taking away their jobs.

 

Of course, any economic disparity that large is inherently unstable, but that's another  issue.

 

Should these companies pay their workers better?  Maybe.  Could they be better?  Yes.  Does this have its own set of consequences?  Yes.  

But when weighing the moral consequences of buying a computer vs. not buying one at all, you're doing more harm to these people by not supporting their economies, and not giving them jobs.

 

 

There is absolutely no comparison between this kind of thing and the slavery, confinement, torment, and slaughter of farmed animals for meat.

 

Hope that helps clarify things :)

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#3 Old 01-27-2014, 03:42 PM
 
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Thanks so much for the detailed answer! :D I dont know anything about that stuff so you really made me feel better about it lol

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#4 Old 01-27-2014, 03:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Veggie Weasel View Post
 

Thanks so much for the detailed answer! :D I dont know anything about that stuff so you really made me feel better about it lol

 

 

You're welcome! :)

 

 

Of course, although there's nothing wrong with buying computers, the best option is to get used computers that are a little bit slower but still perfectly good.  People change computers/phones too often sometimes, and you can get old ones for pennies on the dollar.  It's not that it's wrong to buy a new computer if you need it, but it's a waste of money if you don't need that kind of power- money that could go to other good causes.

 

Like donating the extra money to animal causes, or spending it to support vegan businesses.

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#5 Old 01-29-2014, 01:12 AM
 
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Right! I actually haven't really thought of that :P Haven't needed to buy anything new in quite a while, so I will look into getting used stuff next time.

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#6 Old 02-11-2014, 11:38 AM
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Little detail, if its a laptop, its most likely made in taiwan, where the chinese ( where the chinese and kid part is debatable -well the chinese part... ).

 

Second, a computer is a tool of work and, with internet, a tool to obtain and share information. This includes knowledge of issues such as noted and veggie, and they allow also activism, i don't know any group or organisation that isn't using computers to make the world a better place.

 

Third, the human side is more than debatable anyway, yes they are exploited, and its not just kids, there are regularly suicides among adults here or there, however it is simply the best they have around for most of them, unless they go to other countries which is not easy especially if you don't speak the language ( and china has a nice issue with many people who go on holidays or business matters and don't come back ). 

 

On the other hand the environmental impact of the computers needs to be mentionned.

 

As to wether the long term impact of computers as tools is worth the price, the debate is open, but i think it is ( some would rather see a world without computers thought )



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#7 Old 03-27-2016, 10:54 PM
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One of the funny things about the environmentalism is that people buy environment-friendly electronical devices but don't recycle them.
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