Not a funny podcast, and almost worthy of a DC move [more for it generating more interest there, than it being a shitty DC topic], but the most recent 'This American Life' is fascinating.
It's a little different from TAL's MO, as it covers only a single subject, in only two acts.
The first half consists of Mike Daisey's monologue about visiting Foxconn in Shenzen China. The second half deals with fact corrrection and follow-up.
For those unfamilar, Foxconn is the company that makes most of the consumer electronics we consume. Of recent interest, the Ipod and Ipad are manufactured there.
Foxconn employs 300-450K, and Shenzen went from being a medium-sized city of around 350K in the early 80s, to a megalopolis of 11+M today following a trade agreement where China granted corporations free reign to develop a manufacturing base in the area.
Of note, obviously there is the economies of scale. Daisey paints vibrant pictures of the size of facilities and commissaries. Also, the fact that everything is hand made. With labor so cheap, anything that can be made by hand is made by hand. Workers being more fungible and reliable than machinery. Daisey poignantly points out how we pine for the old days of hand-crafting, when the reality is more is hand-made today than at any point in history. Only, instead of a craftsman lovingly crafting a work of art, it's 100s of thousands of faceless workers toiling on endless assembly lines for little pay.
A third prong is his interactions with 12-15 yo workers.
If you become a technician, you just whup 'em on pure technique. /W.Shields