What a "Hurricane Joe Benson" load looks like

Over the past decade, the Wealthy Nation West (WNW) suffered under the heavy load of conscience-grubbing photos by Pieter Hugo combined with "fun anti-facts" by Basel Action Network and Greenpeace.  The bright regulators in Europe and PACE, Interpol, StEP and Secretariat of the Basel Convention were busy at work, designing tests and enforcement procedures to protect African consumers from the wicked or accidental fallout from Africa Tech Sector Importers like Joe "Hurricane" Benson.

The tests were difficult, a thankless task for scores of customs agents who struggled to program their VCR machines in the 90s, and who probably paid for Windows 8 upgrades and have 2 smartphones and 3 flip phones in their dresser.  The diagrams drawn by Europeans showed used PCs heading down a pipeline of decisions, like a stool down a chamber of drains.  The generator was the "actor", a fetish of guilt and liability attached to the used electronic "waste" device.

WNW could have saved a lot of money on sewers if Africans were at all motivated to come to America and Europe and pay to ship our feces and urine to unregulated rivers.  But of course, why would an African do that?

Interpol, UNEP, and others repeated ad nauseum the fake fact that TVs and monitors had lots of gold and were worth lots of money when banged apart by kids with hammers.  That millions of dollars were spent, and Hurricane Joe Benson imprisoned, based on the malarky that avoided disposal cost was an ATM for Africans is shocking because anyone who spent 15 minutes taking apart a display device and weighing the copper on a bathroom scale could tell you it was nonsense.

They counted the number of TVs in Joe Benson's containers, but they never employed the math to show that the value of the copper never paid for the shipment of the container, only the reuse did.  But far be it from Europe to take economics and African judgement into consideration.

The used electronics resembled waste, and anything downstream from Europe was to be mopped up.

As it turns out, "it's not about you".

Summary Quote from Africa EWaste Report at Agbogbloshie: #freejoebenson

The report from Fair Trade Recycling's visit to Agbogbloshie, Ghana, is nearing completion (60 pages).  Final draft abstract below.

"There is no evidence that Europe’s WEEE testing measures reduce the spoilage or benefit Africa, or that they are based on knowledge of supply and demand in the African market. Evidence supported some Africans’ speculations that those profiling Agbogbloshie as a significant story (reporters, policy makers, anti-gray-market manufacturers, shredding companies, metals recyclers, environmentalists, photojournalists) personally benefit from false or exaggerated portrayals. The report recommends incorporating Africa’s Tech Sector in managing Africa’s growing scrap generation, rather than impugning it.  The burden of proof on allegations of shipping junk should be born by the accusers who benefit from the reduction in trade."

By taking extra months to finish the report, I could find more secondary resources outside the "waste" world -  e.g. Odaw River sample data from the 1980s, rate of TV imports in the 80s and 90s, urban development reports, World Bank Data, etc.

This will be the worst single embarrassment to our environmentalist community if we don't get out in front of it, apologize for our implicit racism in profiling Africa's Tech Sector, and call off the dogs.  I'm serious, people.  I don't want this to come out in Rush radio.   We need to deal with this and stop this McCarthy tactics by certain ENGOs.  We were not immune from implicit racial profiling, and we need to show the guts to admit it and get in front of this story now.

FREE JOE "HURRICANE" BENSON.  Sign the petition to the top right of this blog.

Before you assume an old computer that you expected at your waste shredder was purchased and shippped by Africans as junk, look in this pile. Until we count them here, the "export percentage numbers" are just speculation.

Embedded image permalink

Who's the Troll: But how much are Fair Trade Recycling staff Paid?

See April 2012 Post "Useless Lists of Jobs Beneath Wealthy People"

I confess I've lost interest in the "rate of pay" issue in voluntary trade. 

What drives participation in low-pay or exploitative or criminal activity is generally a lack of other opportunities. A system where USA or EU "moral agents" are expected to give their imprimatur to each potential activity, when the EU-USA agents of conscience don't know the context of the choice between opportunities, can ironically limit opportunities.  

The agent of conscience too often plays an unwitting role (or bears responsibility) when labor finds its own level, in the vacuum created by limits on trade opportunities.  

Not buying a recycled product, or not supplying a recycled feedstock, unless you know how much the maker is paid, is usually a terrible idea.  The more consumers buy (demand) the product, the more opportunities the "marginalized" workers will have.  If in doubt, let the affected worker of your concern choose their opportunity.  

So what is the root cause of this market interference by agents of conscience?  Writing below from my own experience (I coined the term "agent of conscience" in a high school journal, btw)...

The "agent of conscience" in the west is initially fed a righteousness-rush.  That's a little jolt of ethical dopamine, for having made a righteous purchase (see also "moral licensing"). The purchase may simply mean "cash" to the "marginalized" producer, e.g. the African women in the business of washing scrap plastic bags to make tapestry, rugs, and purses... they often don't "get" the moral angst angle.  Learn more by reading about "spiritual materialism" (Trungpa) or Steven Pinker if your goal is to know thyself.

Here is film of Africans taking used film plastic, like trash bags, washing them and using them in weaving (replacing cotton).  I posted it and someone immediately asked me how much the people were paid.  

Historical E-Waste Attests #FreeJoeBenson on #ZeroWasteWeek

The result of multiple studies by US Trade Commission, Secretariat of the Basel Convention, Memorial University, MIT, etc. is damning.

Second Hand electronics, imported to Africa, are not a "digital dump" or "reuse excuse" or "sham recycling". African Techs know more about what works in Africa than the NGOs do.

"E-Waste" filmed by photojournalists like Kevin McElvaney and BitRot did originate in Europe and the USA, but those filmed were imported by Africa's Tech Sector 20 years ago. The device being scrapped by a metal worker in a slum has lived a long and healthy second life, bringing affordable internet and teledensity to the continent for two decades. Interpol's "Project Eden" is about 6,000 years too late.

An NGO took the pics of kids at dumps and said "We must arrest the exporters".

The exporters, according to Interpol, are mostly Africans like Joe Benson.

And stupidly, Lord Chris Smith listened to fictious, made up statistics of 80% dumping, repeated by the photojournalists, a statistic with no economic reason to it and now without a source.  No source.  None at all.

Because the NGO source of the dumping data claims never to have said it.

"If you think I buy equipment, put in a boat and follow all the way to Africa, pay customs duties and truck it for landfill – if you find that, put put me in prisoin for 100 years.  I will stay here in prison 100 years."  - Joe "Hurricane" Benson (BJ Electronics)

Since there's no source for the Story of Stuff, it is time to listen to Africans, like Grace Akese, Emmanuel Eric Nyalete, Wahab Muhammed Odoi, and others in Africa's Tech Sector who explain how the old VCR being hammered for metal at Agbogbloshie was imported in the early 1990s.  Most TVs sold in Africa in the 80s and 90s relied on VCRs for programming.  Now there is satellite, there are 21 Ghana TV stations broadcasting, and streaming internet video carries the programming.  So the VCRs are being junked.

Just like here.  I've got 2 working ones here in my house that I haven't used for 5 years.