Best Argument: No
Increased costs will be passed to consumers
Jason Perlow: As Chinese citizens accumulate wealth, and as China as a country becomes more of a participant on the world economic stage and as a member of the larger community of nations, and as its citizens gain more and more access to information about the world around them, its people will inevitably demand better working conditions, increased wages and increased rights overall.
One day in the future for the nations which consume Chinese manufactured technology, and for all of the companies that have to do business in China like Apple, the party will be over.
Any incremental cost of improving the lives of the Chinese workers will inevitably result in in increased costs in components and manufacturing outsourcing, which will be passed down to you, the consumer.
It absolutely will not be absorbed by business from the purity of their conscience.
How much more expensive is anyone’s guess. It could be as low as 20 percent or as high as double the cost.
A never-ending supply of cheap "i"-toys
David Gewirtz: Let's start by being clear about what we mean by the phrase "Happier Chinese workers". By "happier," we're implying that "happier" Chinese manufacturing workers would be better paid, have better working conditions, and not be as inclined (as some are) to the extreme of suicide.
Put in context, manufacturers like Foxconn, even with their regimented dorm living conditions, are actually already creating workers far "happier" than more than a billion of their fellow citizens, simply because they're able to make a living. Put another way, there's essentially a never-ending supply of impoverished souls, for whom working hard assembling our glittering toys would provide living conditions far above anything they've ever come to expect.
So rest easy. America's "Me" generation will still be able to get their never-ending supply of cheap "i"-toys, built on the backs of an enormous populous so destitute that thousands of hopefuls will stand in line for jobs we would never accept, even with improved working conditions.