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Apple should invest in American workforce

THERE’S A NEW clue to the mystery of when Apple will launch the iPhone 5.

According to an anonymous source in a TechCrunch report, Verizon Wireless has blacked out Sept 21–Sept 30 for employee vacation days.

Based on this juicy little bit of intel, it seems that Apple will be launching the iPhone 5, or the New iPhone, or whatever they decide to call it, on Sept. 21.

If this is wrong, well, the public has an attention span of a Oh my gosh! What the heck IS that?!

I tried to be responsible and check. No dice. Verizon Wireless isn’t going to spoil the surprise expected to come in a Sept. 12 announcement by kvetching to me about a delayed trip to Disney World. Sniff. Choke. Sob.

Anyway, it’s a safe bet that Apple’s Chinese employees won’t be taking vacations.

Peter Navarro, co-author of and director of the new book and documentary “Death by China—Confronting the Dragon—A Global Call to Action,” focused on Apple during an appearance on “Morning Joe” this week.

He said Apple employs 26,000 in the U.S. to design its products and indirectly employs 700,000 manufacturing workers through Foxconn, a Chinese contractor.

Remember, Apple is an American company. Sort of. According to Bloomberg, its market value of $623.5 billion is the most ever recorded by an American-based company. “Based” would be the key word.

“They’re headquartered here, but most of their jobs are somewhere else,” Navarro said.

He said Chinese workers contracted to assemble iPhones and other Apple devices work 16-hour days, seven days a week. “and people are jumping off the [factory] into suicide nets.” Under intense scrutiny, Foxconn announced a pay raise for workers this week—apparently, just in time for the iPhone 5 launch.

Maybe Apple could afford to be a little less profitable and move those jobs back to America. Maybe it wouldn’t have to sacrifice profits. Maybe grateful Americans would buy even more iPhones. That could make up for cutting into its huge profit margin. Maybe.

It’s certainly not the only company outsourcing jobs. Far from it. But Apple’s feels like the biggest betrayal.

“China’s an export-dependent country that’s drained the blood out of Europe and the U.S.,” through unfair trade practices, Navarro said. Those include laws that do little to protect Chinese workers and tempt companies like Apple to become part of the economic vampirism.

This is nothing new. The New York Times reported on the situation earlier this year. And most people won’t give it a thought as they line up for the new iPhone.

I’m no Apple hater. I own an iMac, a MacBook Air and ordered the original iPad about 10 minutes after its online launch. My wife has an iPhone 4S. They’re all great products.

Is it better to buy a Korean product or one made overseas by another “American” company? No.

Would disappointing iPhone 5 sales cause Apple to bring those jobs back? Probably not.

Will I buy an iPhone 5?

I don’t know. I only know

I wish I could get in line whenever it goes on sale

and feel good about it.

Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163

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