As it turns out that a portion of our imported technology has been built by slaves, are you good with being a modern day slave owner through the pursuit of your hobby?
First what is meant by a slave – for the purpose of this post I will use the simplistic definition of a person who has no freewill in most aspects of their life, lacks personal freedom, and is bound to their employer/exploiter.
Not a perfect definition, but I think it will include imprisoned labor, traditional slavery, and the massively controlled labor in a lot of circumstances.
Usually these workers are not free to quit, they are not free to negotiate with their employer, and have significant non-employment restrictions put on their liberties.
And these enslaved peoples build some of our technology.
And of course ham radio gear falls into what they build.
So what does an ethical ham do? Buy something cheap where the labor has a reasonable possibility or being slave or near-slave? Do that really quick and shut your eyes to the injustice?
Or do you support one of the several manufacturers who use domestic or known free-labor workers?
Surprisingly some of our domestic gear is fabricated with incarcerated labor – prisoners purportedly on skills development programs build some ham radio gear.
Now that is a real ethical conundrum, do you accept benefiting from their buck-an-hour or less labor as a moral cost to providing these prisoners training? Do any of these trained folk actually get jobs building electronics when their sentences are up?
All moral decisions a ham should consider.
What do you do?
(I’ve avoided naming companies as I want to challenge the ham community to think about what is important to us, rather than take anybody to task. For the record my stations are built around gear purchases intended to minimize the use of labor with people with questionable freedoms. There are some instances where the only available technology doesn’t appear to be clear of labor issues though. I’ve not found a viable way around those instances.)