Dear Matt Asay,
Last time I checked, Foxconn's employees were the sole responsibility of Foxconn, not Apple.
I understand why Apple currently have a great big virtual target painted on them by the media: they're doing what every other business <i>dreams</i> of doing: winning the old-fashioned way, by making stuff people actually want and selling it to them at a healthy profit. (Jobs never claimed to be Mr. Nice Businessman. Business was, and is, war.)
As for the employees in Foxconn's factories: if it's such a massive shithole—as the media insists—why are there so many Chinese clamouring to work there, and insisting that it's a far <i>better</i> place to work than other factories?
China is going through the same process <i>every other major Western nation went through</i>. There were sweatshops in the <i>UK</i> only a couple of generations ago. In the US, it took decades of strife and effort to get unionisation off the ground. France, Germany and Italy all went through the same thing. That's why we <i>use</i> terms like "Developed" and "Developing" to describe specific nations. China is, despite its economy, still in the <i>"Developing"</i> phase, as are India, some parts of the Middle East, and parts of Africa.
We can wring our hands all we like, but the fact remains that, as long as consumers demand more for less, there will always be a market for cheap labour. Right now, that market is China. In a generation, it'll be some other country—or none at all as factory automation technologies are getting better and better.
Foxconn are already looking into automating most of their processes, so those cheap Chinese labourers may soon find themselves being replaced in their turn by <i>free</i> electronic machines.