"Europe just says out loud what most people are thinking"

This is based on an expression we have been hearing from the "far right" in Europe for a couple of decades.   Europe has a "special relationship" with Africa.  They tend to think of themselves as more enlightened, having avoided a century of slave plantations.  But there is a conservative undercurrent.  The "enlightened" and "fascist" lines have been drawn, and everyone assumes they know which side they are on.

So is it possible that Liberal Europe has defamed Geeks of Color in a widespread "profiling" campaign about "ewaste"?  Surely not.  Not socially conscious, liberal, environmentally sensitive, precautionary Europe.

But what Europe is also lacking is a century of integration following the abolition of slave plantations.  The French were very relieved to have African American writer James Baldwin hanging out in Paris for the last decades of his life, talking about how much freer he was than in Harlem.  But he wasn't around much during the organizations of marches by Martin Luther King, and was pessimistic about whether America would ever pull off the integration.

The French have basked in the reassurances of Baldwin until "The Fire Next Time" broke out in the riots in streets of Paris in 2005.   There was speculation whether a conservative backlash would - or did - occur in the electorate.  Sarkozy was elected, Jean Marie Le Pen's party did not however get power.

Just saying
My point - and it is a very delicate one - is that Europe has a little bit of a history of kicking the can down the road when it comes to integration, and of coming up with social theories without the benefit of a lot of discussion with the minorities closely involved.

I'm pointedly concerned about the latent "assumptions" of primitive behavior in the USA environmental movement, something I first addressed in "E-Waste Soccer and The Accidental Racists" in November 2010.  But I think Europe is worse, because they may assume "liberal" and "fascist" lines are all you need to know about trade, pollution, and exploitation.

My point is delicate because I may be a world minority (most people in the world are browner and darker haired than I) but I'm not one in the USA and can't pretend to share the insights of James Baldwin or Dr. King or Malcom X.  It's also delicate because I'm married to a liberal French Professor in the politically correct Peoples Republic of Vermont (French professor in both senses of the words).

Europe's environmental community is susceptible to the assumption that environmentalists are racially hip and Jean Marie Le Pen is not.  Europe does what some rural northern states in the USA are prone to do - cast the demons of racism into the redneck swine and assume they are above it.  This leads the conservative anti-immigration segments in Europe to believe that "they are just saying out loud what everyone else is thinking but won't admit".   What we call in the USA the "NPR Juan Williams" crime.

Europe simply has not had the discussion we have had about "racial profiling"... or at least has not had it with the right people.  The police in Paris and Marseilles have not had the William J. Bratton police experience in NY or Los Angeles.

Liberal Americans, meanwhile, read James Baldwin and have these flowery assumptions about Europe.   Paris didn't have curbside recycling until a decade after Boston was forced into it.

Just as Baldwin's readers assume Europe's race and immigration policies are superior to USA's, in the e-waste community, activists assume Europe's e-waste policy to be more enlightened than ours in the USA.

So when Europe's police call my friends "waste tourists" and criminals, without a single shred of evidence, the accusation gets posted in the USA trade press as a "finding".  It's despicable, racist slander which we would never put up with here...  but which Europeans are tone-deaf to having said.  I want to scream "pigs" in the hippy vs. police sense of the word.

I can prove that at least some - and perhaps most - of the used computer buyers from Africa in Europe are there at the behest of buyers to MAKE SURE NO JUNK GOES INTO THE CONTAINER.   They are there to make sure the buyers don's spend $15 - the price of transport/importation to port of Accra - for a piece of junk worth $3 in scrap.  It's a loss of $12.    The European report which says that "a single PC sold for $300 would pay the cost of transport of XX pieces of junk" is ludicrous... it's at total and complete F in business management.  No one imports 4 bad units to get a good unit, unless they are forced to.  You don't pay fellow Africans to put MORE money losing waste in the containers, you pay them to keep the waste OUT.

The only people forcing that choice are the back alley, black market exporters in Europe.  They have the market because Europe choses to make exports very difficult.  It's like a ban on marijuana, or a ban on internet, or a ban on abortion, or alcohol, or porn.  If you are going to ban it, you better have a plan or you are going to make a complete mess.

I met with another African Importer (a competitor to my partners) in Las Vegas.  He's not primitive.   I think Juan Williams would like to get to know him.  He buys from Europe.

At some point, it all boils down to something simple:

  1. When a NEW PC is sold in USA/EU, how long is it used (XX years)?  And after it's used, what happens (YY process) to it if it's not re-exported?
  2. When a USED PC is sold in Africa, how long is it used (XX years)?  And after it's used, what happens (YY process) to it if it's not re-exported?

These are very, very simple questions.

What we don't know are the actual numbers or data around the current practices, #1 and #2. Because somewhere during the past decade, while the papers reported a completely falsified statistic (80% primitive) about Africa, no one bothered to meet an African tech, and no one bothered to ask, and it's assumed that if I sell to them that "exchange of money" is evidence of complicity of crime.

Europeans are circulating fake statistics about Africa computer recycling and reuse.   But why actually measure #1 and #2, when you can just say out loud what everyone else is thinking?

The alternative solution, to sell brand new PCs to Africa, would still result in XX years of use and YY will still happen to it... something also not studied.  So we know only that Europe's solution doesn't solve a bloody thing unless Africans go without internet.

I'd like to have put this music as background, but find causes the blog to be blocked on some sites.  It's by the Euro Pop group "Sugarbabes"... Push the Button.    So controversial, euro style.  But a catchy tune you can dance to.  Compared to Japan's Dir En Grey, Anguished Screams of Maggots... it's pop-ular.

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