Bullyboys X: 城管 Authoratah!! Pope Francis to Joseph Benson

城管   [chéngguǎn / cheng2 guan3] noun. 
City management or administrators tasked with enforcing municipal laws, regulations, codes, etc. They have a very poor reputation amongst Chinese people as being corrupt and violent brutes, best known for often physically bullying illegal street vendors, hawkers, and peddlersSee examples.

This post is from the ChinaSmack Glossary, which is a collection of current idioms and expressions, like "memes" in China.  You've heard of the "green fence" and the crackdown on printer refurbishers in Foshan?  This may be the Chinese word for the people Joseph Benson called "bullyboys".

Good news.  The number of poor recyclers' defenders has just increased by One.
Pope Francis has made an amateur video praising the world's "cartoneros" — the poor people who pick through garbage to find recyclable and reusable goods. He says their work is dignified and good for the environment. [ABC News]
It is so bloody obvious that an activity, such as recycling, which is praised as good citizenship when performed by rich people, does not deserve less merit when performed by poor people.  How often do MIT and the Pope and modern artists in NYC agree?

We now have author Adam Minter, NYC Artist/Oscar Winner Vik Muniz, former Basel Convention Secretary Katharina Kummer Peiry, researchers from Memorial University, USC, PUCP, MIT, Africans and Chinese, all signing the praise of recycling in a fair manner.   Where with the backlash be felt?

By Authorities who hitched their wagons to Basel Action Network's campaign of poverty porn photos, false statistics, and halloween rhetoric.

Authority.  Bullyboys.  城管
[Pope] Francis, known for his simple habits, has denounced today's "throw-away culture" and said in the video that food that is tossed aside each day could feed all the world's hungry.
Francis has a long relationship with Argentina's "cartoneros" — literally "cardboard people." He would celebrate Mass for them as archbishop and invited them on stage during World Youth Day in July.
Middle managers, the tide has turned.  The Vermont E-Waste Massacree will be the Wounded Knee of the battle against good enough markets.  When Chinese bloggers are complaining about the same thing as the Pope, African TV repairmen (Joe Benson), and New York professional artists, the Temp Light is on your motorcycle.   Ignore it and ruin your vehicle.  E-Stewards has to execute Plan B, throw Eric Cartman out of the Executive Director chair.  Even Donald Summers, the former BAN.org consultant who (18 months ago) called my views on Fair Trade Recycling "a huge outlier", now works for ISRI.

"Recycling good." say Og, beating a reused mammoth bone against an elk antler.

I'm no Recycling Pope, I'm charismatically challenged, and badly need an editor.  But, I'm fluent in RCRA, I speak Universal Waste.  I know NASPO standards, Chapter 30B.  Throughout this blog, I'm reminded of the special place I have, as a former regulator in a highly environmentally regulated state (Massachusetts DEP).   My short consulting career for EPA, and my acceptance of invitations as an "expert" to Guangdong Province, where I spoke to a crowd of 800 students and recycling officials in 2002, made me an "authoratah".   Little did we know that internet cafe entrepreneurs and African TV repairmen and Asian manufacturer (contractor) warrantee repair takeback firms would be the targets of local "Stewardesque' enforcement.

Chinese bloggers, African geeks of color, authors, artists, and religious leaders are trying to tell us something.  Touche pas a mon pote.

It's natural, when you have a job as a local regulator, to enjoy being addressed as an "expert" whenever news about something you regulate gains national importance.   I embraced "e-waste" expertise in 2002, as a relative expert.

At Massachusetts DEP, we had performed market research in the 1990s prior to starting the first "waste ban" on used cathode ray tube devices.   Under an EPA "Jobs Through Recycling" grant we researched public opinion of the number of units to be collected (accurate and "surprising" finding, 20% of households had 80% of the weight in attics and garages in 1998).  We surveyed repair people, and we ran actual collections and disassembly through the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Waste Recycling Program.

Although I had a degree in International Relations and a masters in Public Management, high tech electronics were enough of a "whoosh" over my head that I felt obliged to really plunge into the study.   It was pretty clear, pretty early on, that my counterparts in state government who were basing policy on "universal waste" were really just calling CRT tubes "like a light bulb".  And based on their 1995 reading of the law, and pics of kids at dumps, Interpol is arresting people today.

As prepared as I was compared to other regulators, I fell into the trap of "compromise" with the self-appointed Authoratah, Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network, the "Ayatollah of E-waste".   We dined together, compared stories of China together, and debated the nuances of the Basel Ban Amendment, WTO and Basel Convention.   In the beginning, I genuinely liked working and talking to Jim and Sarah, and thought they were reasonable people who could be compromised with, to reduce the pressure on Collateral Damagees in Egypt, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.

Surely, they appreciated the facts.   I just needed more proof, more evidence.  And that evidence keeps coming.  As I publicized in the previous blog, MIT has issued yet another report showing that the 80%-for-primitive-wire-burning, embraced by NGOs and E-Stewards, is false.
On a weight basis, 1.6 million tons of used electronics were generated in the US in 2010 and 0.9 million tons were collected. Of the amount collected, 26.5 thousand tons were exported, which is 3.1% of the weight collected. - Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics   12/2013 MIT 
Unfortunately, I'm now convinced Jim Puckett always treated me as an enemy, as in "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."   He did respect the inside knowledge I had about the export market, and I benefited among other "exporters" by being able to dialog with him.   We both looked good together.

view of Stewards from Upstairs
But Jim said to an EPA friend of mine, who didn't tell him she knew me, that I was "A big exporter."  As in, not to be trusted.  And that distrust, sewn not just on Geeks of Color in emerging markets, but on anyone who would dare defend them publicly, has destroyed my Vermont company.

I had a good ride.  Over 12 years, we created 45 jobs and managed, at the peak, about 9 million pounds of material per year.  We created a new non-profit, Fair Trade Recycling, and (I like to think) influenced researchers and writers on the topic.

Like me, many felt a natural tendency to "meet in the middle" between Basel Action Network, Greenpeace, NRDC, and others.  Organizations like StEP paid respect to Jim Puckett.  Listen.  Display devices don't speak Moore's law.

The next 12 months of this blog will see the change in Stewardship leaders.  The end is near.  Vermont may be my Wounded Knee.  But from IFIXIT to Weibo to Alibaba to R2 Solutions to Basel Convention, everyone now sees the "80%" for what it is.   Eric Cartman's hijack of green politics, enforced by bullyboys.

Lesson over.  Touche pas a mon pote, Senor Puckett.

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