Time Out: Big Picture Environmentalism

I'm on my way to vacation, followed by a trip to our fair trade recycling plant in Sonora, Mexico, then a presentation at the CES in Las Vegas.    I'll probably write more than ever on the road.  But even my haiku is too long.

If there were an Abstract for prospective readers of this blog, it might be:
The author [Robin Ingenthron] is a former environmental regulator with a degree in international relations, and experience in "third world" and "second world" development programs.  Using MBA skills and a business as a background, he writes about how environmentalism can make more efficient choices, trimming policies which do not benefit the earth ecology, with particular emphasis on environmental protocals which have been "hijacked" or influenced by greed.   
Breaking this down further into "bullet points":

I have tried to be equally critical of:
  • traders who exploit poor technicians and recyclers
  • billion dollar corporations which use legitimate concern over the environment to implement "planned obsolescence" policies
  • government bureaucrats who defend ineffective regulations which are harmful/passe
  • extremely bad actors - tyrants/dictators/mining-warlords/rapists/killers - who rampage the margins of policy whenever society becomes too distracted (how many lead solder particles can pollute the head of a pin?).
The blog devotes time and attention to what we know works and doesn't in making the world better:
  1. Equality of education and opportunity (race, women, immigration) increases the talent pool which statistically results in better economies and societies.
  2. Tinkerer, Repairer, Fixer, Geek are the best possible way to transfer wealth from rich to poor nations.  
  3. Prohibitions (alcohol, marijuana) and boycotts just about never work. They are always exploited by opportunists (rum runners, substitute drug sellers, planned obsolescence shredders and container-packers).
  4. Government AID hasn't worked.  UN, World Bank, or USAID... Government dole isn't personal risk.  If I lend my parents money to someone, I feel it.  If I write a government check, exploring suspicion is above my pay grade.
There are a finite number of jobs a youth in a sub-OECD nation or developing nation will have.  Peace Corps Volunteer / TEFL and Math/Science, tell me if there is a job your students are getting outside of the list below.
  • Government (bureaucrat, soldier, police, teacher, doctor), 
  • Agriculture (cotton farmer, nyam farmer, coffee picker maniok grower), 
  • Multi-national Corporation employee (Exxon, Nike, Foxconn, Manufacturing), 
  • Service Sector (meals, taxi, clothes washing, Tourism, etc.)
  • Trader (retailer, distributor, marketer), 
  • Raw Material Gatherer (recycling or mining),  
  • Bad Sad Jobs... i.e. Thug, child soldier, sex worker, slave, toxic metal miner, bushmeat endangered species poacher, drug runner, thief.
  • Inventor (repairer, geek, tech, shanzai-artist, tinkerer, fixer)
Some of the jobs are not exclusive of each other.  There are a lot of thieves and thugs in government and police forces.  But the proportion of Inventor/tinkerer/shanzai to the GDP is the biggest predictor of whether a "backwards" land becomes Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, or Penang.

But when a reporter or activist takes a job at random from the above (cotton fertilizer girl, scrap metal boy, cell phone repair woman, internet cafe trader) and focuses on the worker's poverty and race in order to make westerners feel good about abandoning them, it's loathesome.   The declaration of "crime of by hand" (see Bloomberg post below) is frightening in a world that just needs decent jobs.

Sometimes I write about this a bit too pointedly.  I'm sure a lot of these people mean well, and fair trade, ISO certifications, and R2 certification are efforts to meet people halfway.

Trying to save the world, we can aim for 4 things:

A) Inspirational (Jesus, Buddha, Muhammed), or
B) Effective in a given context, (Mother Theresa, Doctors Without Borders, and Nelson Mandella) or
C) Recording our lessons for History (like de Toqueville).
D) Invent or Engineer a "peace technology" (medicine, communications, democratic constitution)

In this blog, I play the role of a bit of a crazy person.   It's like I'm showing up at the courthouse steps, every day, year after year, to protest the innocence of my imprisoned child, my innocent friend, my spouse, my partner.   And after awhile it becomes a role to play.  Compare this blog to the website for The West Memphis 3, the young men from my home state of Arkansas who were sentenced to death for a crime of murder they surely didn't commit.

Free the Non-OECD 3.   Three billion people, falsely accused of being backwards, primitive, polluters.  The only evidence ever presented against them is a photo of someone else, of the same color and language.  It's a wealth of things to write about.  It's about hope, aspiration, zany intelligence, surprise, faith, laughter and fear.  

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