Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Smuggling iPads

After my late night panic over the computer, adrenalin coursing through my veins, I couldn't sleep until 2am, which meant that today I was jaded with every bit of my existence.  It could have been worse, though. I could have been one of the 14 Hong Kongers arrested on Monday for smuggling.

For smuggling iPads into Shenzhen.

As criminal moneymaking schemes go, it appears to be up there with illegally importing coal to Newcastle, or snow to Alaska, or cocaine to Columbia, or a kind and benevolent form of government to Beijing.

(I wonder I'll be contradicted by somebody pointing out that the anthracite industry of Newcastle is in steep decline, global warming is impacting the climate of the northernmost US state, or that the best quality refined cocaine is made in Mexico.)

But strangely it appears that because of a difference in taxation between the SAR and the PRC, there's a big enough difference in the price between iPads in Hong Kong and Shenzhen to make it worth sneaking boxes of them over the border. Back to where they were manufactured.

It seems a little obscene that there's already such a difference between how much the average worker in Foxconn's factory makes1, versus the price of an iPad here, but it seems worse that the same iPad would be even more unaffordable in the country where it was manufactured. It's not quite up with a country struck by a famine still exporting crops, but it doesn't feel like all is right.

Then again, do goose farmers get to afford fois gras every day?

1 Not that I'm wholly clear on the value of that datum, but I've got a feeling it's closer to what's a Grecian urn: not very many euros...


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