Mutual Confirmation e-Waste Bias

Confirmation Bias [] ("a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true").

My bias is for global trade, interaction between people.  Having lived in and frequently visited the developing world, I am indelibly in favor of nice, smart, African/Latino/Asian geeks, who study their hearts out reading technical books.  When I trade and do business with people from foreign cultures, we take risks on each other, and achieve mutual benefits.  When trust is rewarded, "good karma" results.

BAN's bias is against globalization, against free trade on an uneven playing field, against externalization of value and cost.  Jim Puckett, their bloke spokesperson, is as honest in this bias as I am in mine.  He is distrustful of globalization and trade, so distrustful that he wants "repair and overhaul" to be considered "waste management".

BAN has signalled a willingness to compromise, in an attempt to reconcile the truth of existence of Geeks and Techs of Color with the bias against trade.  They have begun to acknowledge the refurbishing market... but would terminate, among other things, the Rolls Royce aircraft refurbishing factory in Singapore.

Jim has been polite to me, even gracious, and has offered other compromises.  

TESTED WORKING, FULLY FUNCTIONAL:   This compromise is the fig leaf covering the overwhelming dependence on shredding companies to provide nationwide E-Steward coverage.  The solution is for the USA to repair and refurbish and sell "tested working" and "fully functional" computers directly to the customers of the Geek Refurbishers, cutting the geek factories out of the equation.  I've said, many many times, send them over, we have purchase orders for them.  Nothing... or worse, an attack on the smart geeks who may "electively upgrade" them to even better (producing illegal waste, according to Jim).

PRIOR PRE-REPAIR, PARTS REMOVAL:   Another BAN compromise is to have American repair people test and remove parts that might be "electively upgraded"... if you sell a computer with 512K RAM to someone who may replace the RAM with 2G RAM, you should remove the 512K... yet you MUST include at least the 512K if the person you ship it to does NOT intend to upgrade it.  

REPAIR THINE OWN PC:   A third compromise is to allow the Geek factories to buy used computers from inside their own developing nation and refurbish them, rather than barely used computers from wealthy nations.  

PULL UP STAKES AND MOVE TO "POOR OECD":  Jim has also suggested a compromise where we would move the jobs and factories from a rapidly emerging area, like Penang Malaysia or Singapore, to a poorer area - like Sonora Mexico - which happens to be OECD.   This would ignore the warranty repair and manufacturing capacity already taking place in these countries, and would ban, among other things, Singapore's Rolls Royce Refurbishing factory for jet aircraft... or rather allow only worn out aircraft from poor nations to be put back in the sky.

What Jim will not compromise on is his opposition to the language of the Basel Convention, Annex IX, B1110.  This language does not say "tested working".  It says you can export for repair and refurbishment, and says that CRTs may be considered commodities and not wastes by the Basle Convention Parties.  He is playing ayatollah with the language of the convention, posing as if EPA is not qualified to read it, that his non-profit organization must be the go between.  Further, it must be reconciled alongside the (unpassed) Ban Amendment.

He feels so strongly about this that he will not budge on my central demand, which is to stop portraying our refurbishing factories as lesser people, like Sambo.    Stop equating highly skilled, educated, sustainable repair labor - the same people who made the computer monitor on Jim's desk - as primitive wire burning wretched e-waste toxic polluters.  Yes, some poor nation importers are wire burners.  And yes, some Los Angeles youths are gang members, and some Mexicans are drug lords.  At some point, if that is all you ever reference, in every photo and every breath, you have a lot in common with Rush Limbaugh.

Singapore, which is wealthier than Portugal, is not OECD, and therefore considered a "primitive" nation by BAN's thirsty interpretation of Basel Convention and Ban Amendment.   They'd be forced to choose whether to keep the thousands of jobs at the Rolls Royce aircraft refurbishing factory, and to follow Jim's compromise to only refurbished airplanes from poor nations.  Planes of course would fall out of the sky, people would die, toxic jet fuel would spew.    All in order to refuse recognition of the Basel Convention Annex IX, B1110.  China is now putting in a state of the art shipbreaking plant... I guess they will only recycle ships flying the flags of poor countries.

As emerging markets drop their buckets and lift as they climb, they will increasingly create very tidy shops.   Like our WR3A partner who is profiled this week in Scrap Magazine, they will get ISO14001, import permits, and closed loop recycling of upgraded parts.

Jim will live to see eat-off-the-floor, white glove operations.  His photo campaigns, like the ones with Pieter Hugo, will start to resemble Willie Horton commercials.  Just as Levis could not stop developing nations from putting air conditioners in sweat shops, and could not convince Americans to pay $59 for a pair of jeans, the globalization and alter-globalization tsunami will continue.

For now, however, the photos of wretched wire burners provide deep cover.   The confirmation bias of the hideously racist CBS 60 Minutes Wasteland show, will be protected.  The organization is too afraid that the admission of proper facilities, serving the good-enough-market, will undermine their non-profit case.

It's all about money, moola, payola.  I am just fighting for money and value to stay in the hands of Geeks of Color. I am going to be very stubborn about it, because this argument is destined to win.  If BAN is smart, they will continue to try to find good news stories like the e-waste recycling operation in Ethiopia.  They will see that the Environmental Justice people are going to see the violence against Techs of Color as fratricide.

Pieter Hugo ...  I doubt he's an intentionally harming people.  I doubt he has ever seen the Ghana Study which shows that the junk he's filming was either not imported recently (I see a typewriter) or was part of the 15% of unrepairable junk.  He may be amazed to hear that my African friends see it this way - they invited him into their homes, and he spent a year doing nothing but photograph their dirty laundry.  His support of the bias against exports will take away the 85% of the materials which IS fixed, which DOES wind up in an internet cafe, and which transformed places like Egypt into fledgling democracies.  His photos will be used by corporations which want to ban exports precisely because it is banning reuse, for obsolescence in hindsight.   

Artistically, his photos are much better than the ones I took in Africa.  But mine have names, and they are people I still am in touch with.    Their aspirations, to develop as Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan developed, with refurbishment and reverse engineering...   Clubbed to death.  Your campaigns are used by dictators to seize and ban imports of working equipment, and by Planned Obsolescence Waste Makers.  The point about reforming e-waste exports has already been made.  Now this is about the Green Thompson Obsolescence Bill, negating the Right To Repair, an unholy alliance of lazy thought-starved environmentalist watchdogs, Stuff makers, and dictators, clubbing the geeks of color by seizing containers purchased with sold kidneys in a Joseph McCarthy style campaign.

They leverage the big secret factories by refusing to acknowledge that not ALL Africans are primitive wire burning desperates.   They hold back the truth to get their way.  All in the name of getting their way about Basel Convention Annex IX B1110, which they argued against.  Mothers will die in childbirth, children will die of malaria.  

Forcing my friends in Angola, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Senegal and Zaire to choose a brand new computer monitor is giving them absolutely no choice at all.  E-Stewards shred these, no intact units coming out of their shredders.  This is all about taking the reuse masses out of the equation so that USA recyclers can grind up computer equipment with added value to America into lesser value metal - to sell to China, which will make brand new STUFF.   

Pieter Hugo, Annie Leonard, Terry Gross, Futurama, and Scott Pelley have been duped into marketing non-sustainable destruction.  They were so duped, in my opinion, because they spend so little time talking to Africans, Latinos, and Asians that they quickly accepted and promoted a cartoonish portrayal of Geeks of Color with no data behind it.  We are patiently waiting for reporters who have actually heard of places like Meltwater, Foxconn, Wistron, etc. to explain to my dear liberal friend that soylent green solutions are killing people.   Tom Friedman or Fareed Zakaria or Gwen Ifill or Ray Suarez... where are you??  The data from Ghana has been published, but policy is being marketed by ego-journalists playing TinTin.

White man, white man, white man with he long nose, since my motha borned me, I never see a long nose.

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