Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bad News, Good News

Caught a stunning story the other day on Sky News about the exploitation of child labour in connection with the mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was enough to make anyone who uses devices reliant on funky little batteries (that's basically all of us) feel very, very guilty indeed. I used to wonder how the Victorian middle classes felt when they read about the appalling lives of the little kids used to help sweep their chimneys and now I know. Really bad. But it's difficult to see this as just bad news, terrible as it is.

The fact it's in the news, due to excellent reporting, seems to me to offer some hope. There's a good chance that companies like Apple will need to take real action regarding their tainted suppliers to do something about the dreadful conditions in which cobalt is mined in order to limit the damage to their precious reputations - and they've got real power. (And, who knows, there may be people of real integrity working for them.)

So this news may do some little good. Let's not forget, the scandal attendant upon the abuse of the little sweeps meant that, eventually, it was no longer possible to abuse children in that manner in England. Shining a light on this darkness may have something of the same effect.

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