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We all enjoy our modern gadgetry, but in his new column, Jim Hightower poses the question: at what human cost do we enjoy the benefits of Apple products?

Once proud that its products were “made in the USA,” Apple today is the Wal-Mart of high-tech, profiting by taking advantage of powerless foreign labor. Practically all of the 70 million iPhones and 30 million iPads sold last year were produced in foreign-owned factories, mostly in China, that constitute Apple’s global supply chain and are integral to its profitable business model.

Apple insists that it has a strict code of conduct to assure that those workers are fairly treated. In 2010, Jobs himself gushed about one of the Chinese factories in his system. “It’s a factory, but my gosh, I mean, they’ve got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools … it’s a pretty nice factory.”

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