e-Waste Poster Child Telethon from Disney

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tomorrow (Monday) is our R2 Audit.  So I've invited a guest writer while I prepare the inspection paperwork.


Fair use, this is a 1970 postage stamp
"Hello, My name is Mowgli, and I am the spokesperson for the Poster Child Workers Union [PCWU].  You know me from my work in Hollywood's "Jungle Book".  But did you also know I was nearly used as a "poster child" for several charitable campaigns?  My creative boss at Disney frowned on that kind of thing.  Last I remember, Uncle Walt allowed my image to be used on an Italian Lira postal stamp - back in 1970 (see left).

"However, there are millions of boys and girls like me, in the developing world, who have no Disney lawyers to protect us from unauthorized use of our images.  For the most part, we don't mind so long as the photographer is trying to accomplish something good.   If my sister is in line receiving food or medicine from CARE, Save The Children, Oxfam, or Unicef, she's hardly in a position to complain, right?

"One group that has been using our images a lot is now being confronted by the PCWU union.   It's a 'watchdog' group which was taking our photos doing recycling work.   We thought recycling is good.  This is better than being a child soldier, a tantalum mine worker, a sex slave, or working in a textile mill.  Sure, our lives are tough, but if you were me, wouldn't you rather be recycling than doing something worse?  I mean, don't white boy scouts earn merit badges for recycling?


"Now, the official union position is that we can be bought.   Ok, that's so blunt...  But true.  We'll gag and writhe for a peso. But after the photographer leaves, what then?  Oy veh!  It turns out, no pay for the photo, and worse...! Their campaign wants to shut us down entirely!


"Hey, if someone wants to pay us to go to school instead, or pay to improve the conditions and hours at our workplaces, we're in.  I think our union might go for a LOT of changes to the way recycling works, if people want to raise money for that.


"like this sir?"
"But nooooo.  Unfortunately, the people taking our photos at recycling yards sold them to our competitors, the big USA and European shredder-machine firms.  Those companies ruin the nicest rich people electronic stuff (at least, compared to local ewaste stuff from right here in Africa, or Asia, or South America).  They take the stuff from rich countries, the stuff we can actually reuse and resell, the 20% that brings in 80% of our money, and they grind it up in a big machine before exporting it.

"Here's an e-waste statistic:  94% of the poster children say it sucks.


"I mean, hey.  This non-profit takes our picture, they use it to raise money in Seattle, then they license our photos to companies... who pay them for it.  We not only don't get a cut, they actually use our pictures against us.  They call us all kinds of mean names, like dirty, toxic, polluting, and my least favorite, 'primitive'.



"My mom sorts copper wire, and cuts off the plastic with a small knife.  It's tough work, but it saves the purest, most energy efficient grade of copper.   She makes four times as much as her sister who works in a copper mine in OK Tedi River basin.  And she's not producing carbon.  And unlike the big "formal" sector firms, she doesn't mix the electric grade in with the heat sinks and copper pipe that has to go back to a primary refiner.  She sells the high grade copper to a secondary smelter which saves huge amounts of carbon and energy.

"So, how am I supposed to feel when I see pictures of my mom, doing recycling work, the same kind that white people 'volunteer' for and are all proud of and put bumper stickers on their car, and they use her picture to say that she's primitive and that people who trade with her should be ashamed??

"A lot of environmentalists are really cool.  I met them when resource curse people were gonna to turn my jungle into a palm oil plantation, or a rare earth copper mine, like OK Tedi River in Indonesia, or the virgin lead mining in Kabwe Zambia, or the tantalum mining for cell phones in the headwaters of the Congo.  

"Recyclers used to save our forests, and my friends like Baloo and Bagheera on the endangered species list.  I want to find a way to work more and more together with Americans and Europeans and Japanese and Koreans and Canadians, etc.   Maybe I can get a loan through Kiva.org to for some really nice laptops, and you can pay me to properly recycle any of them that I can't get to work, and pay us to properly recycle and take back the ones that are worn out here after 12 years of use (we use things 4 times longer than you do).  I want to hear more about this idea of working together, rich and poor, via "Fair Trade Recycling"...   


"Speaking of which, my friends find it pretty ironic that the anti-globalists, the watchdogs, object to the use of our own photos by the folks who want to do fair trade with us.  According to our attorney, in order to object to "fair use", they have to make a claim that they are making income off of our image.  The union is looking at this, you'll hear more from me later.

"In the meantime, the Poster Child Workers Union has approved the use of our photos by the following groups:


Futurama e-Waste Kids
  • C.A.R.E.
  • Oxfam
  • Save The Children
  • Unicef
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Kiva
  • FairTradeRecycling.org
  • Earthworksaction.org

Signed,

Mowgli


"The problem with the Jerry Lewis telethon was not that he tried to help people with muscular dystrophy. The problem was the way Jerry Lewis did it. Yes the telethon raised a lot of money. But it also perpetuated destructive stereotypes. Jerry’s message was simple: “crippled children deserve pity.” His critics offered an alternative: “people with disabilities deserve respect." - Jon Weiner, THE NATION  
http://www.thenation.com/blog/163119/end-jerry-lewis-telethon-its-about-time

Separating copper from graphite
















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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this is the best one I've yet to read. It really takes an extremely controversial situation and puts an outlook on it that I never would have anticipated.

Bravo.