Zen of Arrogance: Confessions of a USA Recycling Madman


"Might as well be me"
If you've followed this blog for much of the decade, you know how much "guilt and privilege leverage" I write about, the liability culture. Both liberals and conservatives play "gotcha-ism".  Let me indulge in a backhanded swing, to return the ball to the court of European Recycling Overlords.  Basel is Better?  Or is it a new "infant formula" for Africans?  

Used and repaired goods are best for emerging markets, be they in the Ozarks or Cameroon or Ghana.

The irony of Europe's infatuation with Basel Action Network is that they think they are owning up to their post colonialism.  They feel heroic, doing a good one for the former colonies. But instead of "environmental justice", they accidentally delivered racial profiling of the talented tech sector.  Once again, USA is less racist despite our worst efforts.

Cross cultural case in point:  I used the n-word in a story I was recounting.  Hear me out....

Since it was quoting another person - a judge - who used the word in a sentence to me personally, I've always thought it was fair to leave it in the judge's quotations.  The use of the n-word by the judge impugns the judge. In that context, leaving the word out intervenes on the judge's behalf, at the expense of the folks he was commenting on (me and some black folk).  I literally imitated the judge's voice, and the shock value resounds because it's shocking to have heard the words coming from a judge's mouth.  But I heard through the grapevine that the Europeans thought it was verboten, and another black mark against exporting fairly.  Robin used a word Europeans know not to use.

Nuance?  It's an example of some folks being more comfortable and direct about the state of affairs our friends face.  If you've never met a black person in Arkansas, you're safer avoiding the term altogether.  If you are comfortable in your relationships, you skewer the 1970s Ozarks judge with his own words.

This was some racial tolerance inside baseball.
So - How does a guy from the Ozarks get to know more about Africa than Europeans do?

In the context of the N-word, I was in Austria, speaking on a panel, and told the story to other panel members (not to the audience).  I was telling them I was on my way back to Ghana and Agbogbloshie, and trying with the story to self-deprecate the part of America I come from.  The story is humiliating, which is a form of humility.


Fair Trade Recycling [WR3A] Launches "E-Waste Offset" Initiative In Africa



[Middlebury, Vermont May 22, 2017]  Fair Trade Recycling has launched a strategic partnership in West Africa to create capacity for proper recycling of junk "e-waste" devices without impugning, racially profiling, or interfering with the imports of Africa's talented "Tech Sector".

The initiative is based on "carbon offset" models, and is derived from conclusions Fair Trade Recycling representatives arrived at during research in Ghana from 2015 to the present.

Under the new program, African Tech Sector buyers will be rewarded with lower prices for used computers and tech sector equipment they import when they "offset" or "exchange" the tonnage for a similar quantity of obsolete or irreparable electronics taken back from African cities.  The model is patterned after "carbon offset" or carbon exchange models.

For every 50 containerloads of used electronics imported by Ghana's Tech Sector, the reuse shops will take back 10 containerloads of junk TVs and computers which were imported to Ghana two or three decades ago.  And the Tech Sector will pay for proper tools, training and methods - all funded by the profitable and appropriate reuse of newer second-hand products.

The "Agenda Shift" has already resulted in calls from major manufacturers interested in promoting takeback in Africa as a solution to junk buildup.

10 Tools & Techniques To Change the World from the Inside



Here, briefly, is my advice to college graduates seeking to employ social justice and change, and to use their idealism within the economy to earn their own way, make a living, and still change the world "from the inside".  If any famous people are planning Commencement addresses and haven't started, feel free to use this.

Twitter is a good utility. I usually praise it for its "search box", you can find breaking insider news if you ignore the "feed" and search for something.  Amazing links show up.

Another good thing is that forcing yourself to make a point in 140 characters can make for better journalism.

Here are my 10 Techniques to "Change the world from the inside", something my friends told me would be impossible when I left Fayetteville Arkansas to attend an MBA program in Boston.  You can choose something, some industry you want to change, and make a living doing so, and in the process actually alter the way the entire world does and sees things in the industry.

In order (Tweets below posted in reverse order).

Tool #1 Humility.   
Tool #2 Math and Secondary Research.
Tool #3 Psychology (including your own)
Tool #4 Networking
Tool #5 Humor (can combine with #1)
Tool #6 Scout Everyones' Perspective (clients, suppliers, regulators, everyone)
Tool #7 Pacing
Tool #8 Statistics and risk analysis and lifecycle analysis (see #2)
Tool #9 History of the field
Tool #10 Be a good citizen.

More

"Freemium High": Psychological Reward On Fury Road

Comment Field Social Media Adversaries, Check Your Buzz

This year, I have made a concerted effort to referee the internet.  Crack your fingers, place them on the keyboard, and enter the Fury Road of Comment Field Politics.



It was late. I'd had two glasses of Shiraz. And thought I'd check out Tucker Carlson, Bill O'Reilly's timeslot replacement on Fox News.

Had been listening to MSNBC and NPR side of the "Trump vs. Comey" story, and needed to clear my head of bias confirmation. It's our civic duty to understand both sides of the story. In high school, our debate coaches and senior team members would say "hey, the X high school seniors have a really excellent Negative Debate rebuttal vs. Solar Power, you should go listen, they meet Y team at 3PM"

I've known and somewhat respected Tucker Carlson from his bow-tie days, when he was the anti-populist alternative to Pat Buchanon.  He seemed to be aiming for the vacancy of Ivy League conservative William F. Buckley Jr.  His track record seems libertarian - Turned anti Iraq War (after the 1st year), supported Rand Paul, said gay marriage is a "civilizing force".

Now the abrupt cancelling of O'Reilly Factor put Tucker into the 8PM time slot, with the job of keeping O'Reilly's conservative viewers.  But those are a different age, and a different economic bent than traditional William F. Buckley, Heritage Foundation viewers.

So I was perturbed by Tucker's interview of an advocate for legal Haitian refugees, when Tucker brought up the topic of rounding them up and expelling them.

Preceding "Fair Trade", For Profit Efforts to Correct Injustice

While spending some Saturday time researching on Ancestry.com today, I became really curious about the Freelands (my great-great grandparents, and my middle name) who came to Kansas with New England roots, in the mid 1800s.

Kansas, in the mid-1800s, was "Bleeding Kansas".

Basically the Mason-Dixon line of slavery was broken by democratic vote in "slave-owning" Missouri, which was above the line, breaking the precedent.  Kansas-Nebraska Act followed, and Kansas was to decide slavery based on the popular vote.


RobinRobin Haiku: Recyclers Are The City Blacksmith

Recyclers Are the City Blacksmith - by RobinRobin


Guiyu's not dumping
Harvest IC chips - it's smart
Imperfectly wise

Hong Kong's not dumping
Monitors Rebuilt TVs
Re-manufactured

Agbogbloshie films
Capture urbanization
City waste, recycled

Teledensity
Demand for education
Mankind makes cities

Rapid city growth
Is dirty, unlike forests
But melds womens rights

cont.

OP ED: GPS Tracker Controversy Resurfaces #Monitour

Just a brief update about the 2016 reports (2) by Basel Action Network which claimed that their partnership with MIT Senseable City Lab demonstrated that 36% of USA E-waste is illegally -  and shamefully - exported.  When the first report came out, one year ago, we contacted MIT to question the following methodological concerns in the study.  MIT sent a disavowal and stopped appearing with BAN in the press, but the damage has been done.  BAN unmasked unwitting and unwilling participants and named names - even companies like mine that they know for a fact did not export the device they shipped to us.  Where there's smoke, someone should get fired.

1) 50% of waste - CRT TVs - were not tracked.  Probably because they are almost never exported. If they are never exported, the exported "findings" fall back into the 10%-20% range identified in several other studies.  It's the "blue-eyed basketball player fallacy" (selective sampling).  They tracked 30% of types of devices deemed likely exports, and found 36% of those were exported.

2) BAN covered up destinations which didn't fit their "primitive and shameful" narrative of overseas recycling.  Here is video from April '15, six months before our downstream USA recycler exported a printer we handled, of Hong Kong's legal EcoPark.  We found direct evidence that BAN erased the coordinates for this facility, and shared that on the blog and with MIT.



3) BAN misidentified legal repair and reuse as shameful exporting.  Two CRTs tracked in Pakistan ended up in a multi-story reuse shop a couple of blocks from Pakistan's largest tech university, in the same building that sells CRT analog converters (changing monitors to TVs).  Another data point that "disappeared" in BAN's second report appears to show a large SKD factory in Foshan.  If it isn't this factory, then why did BAN erase the datapoints in its second report?  In Fact, one of the SEATTLE devices exported (under investigation by Washington DEP) was in fact tracked through the site above, and is found in reuse in Tin Shui Wai (a city, not a rice paddy, in the New Territories).  BAN erased the datapoint, but it was shared with us by someone in Seattle, and we profiled the cover up here.

4) Whether or not the tampering and fallacies above were intentional, BAN's participation and funding and sharing data with E-Stewards who sponsor BAN financially are prima facia violations of MIT ethics rules on both conflict of interest and tracking of "unwitting and unwilling" human subjects.  If there was any question whether BAN was just following devices or was targeting unwitting and unwilling subjects in the first report release, that was released in the second, where BAN named me personally and my clients in Somerville, despite knowing that we did NOT export the device they tracked. Oh, and the Somerville site is a commercial office, not a public drop off point... MIT undergrads had to ring a doorbell and get buzzed in to a building with no "recycling" sign.  At that point, MIT assigned its attorneys to the case and MIT Senseable City Lab issued a disclaimer and stopped commenting publicly on BAN's allegations.

And remember, #2 EcoPark is a direct competitor of E-Steward donors!

5) We had direct tracking of exactly how much of our used electronics we qualify for direct or potential export.  It's under 10%.  We provided that information to MIT Senseable City Lab, who provided it to BAN before BAN issued the 2nd report ignoring that data.   The fact we could track that item without BAN's GPS was less interesting to us than the fact that an E-Steward who pays BAN handsomely cancelled our shipments of printer scrap for several weeks while the GPS tracker was in our building.  A source at MIT has privately confirmed the same suspicion, that BAN had active access to "live" devices and that it would have been simple to warn paying sponsors to avoid shipments containing the devices.

If anyone needed a track record for BAN's targeting of me personally, here is a reminder of a paid BAN staffer's characterization of me, personally, to a Chicago Patch reporter two years earlier, and BAN's public admission of the personal attack, and apology to me.

Whether funders like The Body Shop Foundation or researchers like Carlo Ratti of MIT Senseable City lab will ever partner with Basel Action Network again is an open question.   But they would be wise to track the history and reputation of the "watchdog" that barks at companies that don't pay them "certification fees" worth millions of dollars to stay silent, and to fund vicious racist attacks on innocent Tech Sector importers and exporters like "Hurricane" Joe Benson of the UK - the Tom Robinson of UK's witch hunt into fake news about Agbogbloshie distributed by BAN... falsehoods exposed by me months before BAN's report called me out in shameful light.

It's a shame that legitimate concerns exposed by the study can't now be pursued without airing false propaganda.   The fact our Massachusetts printer, sent to Chicago, didn't go to the place in Hong Kong described and approved (#2) and the reasons - legit or not - given to our downstream USA copy machine repair shop who exported it... all legitimate avenues to explore and learn from.  But those could have been pursued without "unmasking" the unwitting and unwilling participants, and without the 5 research fallacies described above.

I'm bringing this up because last week a Vermont Agency of Natural Resources staff person made a claim about my company and the GPS tracking which did not mention the legal R2 certified facilities in Hong Kong or EcoPark (video above), in defense of new Procedures which the Agency admits are directed at one company - mine.

Pharmaceutical Recycling 2: Rich Liability vs. Poor World Shortages


George Washington Carver Is Not Liable For Peanut Butter Allergies (he didn't even invent it)

In Part 1, I introduced this topic after opening a piece of mail telling us that a $500-something dollar epipen we own had reached its expiration date.  It made me curious whether the "obsolescence" of the pharmaceuticals equated to actual risk, and made me think about the different financial implications for wealthy, poor, stockholders, etc. And how the psychology of "greed and fear" is used as a persuader to advance the interests of those parties.  From Part 1:
In the case of an epi-pen, "less effective" is certainly a concern if you can afford a new one.  But if my kid starts to suffer a life-threatening peanut allergy reaction, I'm not going to check the date on his epi-pen.

What about "elective upgrade"? Can I sell my expired epi-pen, and buy a new one to satisfy my risk averse kin?  That reduces MY liability (to my son), but is my liability somehow "externalized" to poor people?
Hint:  No

But let's see how the Policy On Pharma Storage or Disposal (not recycling) is covering the exits.

Pharmaceutical Recycling: When 1st World Liability Means 3rd World Shortages





My  wife and I received a mail about a $500-something dollar epipen having reached its expiration date.  It made me curious whether the "obsolescence" of the pharmaceuticals equated to actual risk.

I found a decent 2012 Science-Based-Medicine journal article by Scott Gavura, seeking answers to the question, and found once-again that medical ethics are rich in direction for environmental ethics.  Human Health has been a concern for longer than Environmental Health.

So basically the article says that there is very little risk that expired medicine is bad for you.  It doesn't turn into poison (there was one possible case of that from a medicine that was long ago banned from the market... think of the liability if people died from not reading the date on your label).

When a new medicine is approved by FDA, no Pharma company can afford to then test it by putting it on the shelf for several years to determine its expiration date.  They do run tests on exposure to moisture and light, and use those to predict shelf life.  But like food, an open can of stuff doesn't stay good for as long as a closed can of stuff, so the expiration date is majorly affected by whether it is pre-consumer (unopened at a pharmacy) or post-consumer (excess from a once opened bottle).

And this is hot topic in Waste Policy... see all the national pharma take-back day events this month.































How We Knew About Apple's "Recycled Content" Plan 2 Years Ago!

Big announcement, just out, from Apple CEO - Apple will produce its electronics from 100% recycled material, not from virgin mining.

It's reported from Apple's just-released 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report.  It's bound to hit all the Earth Day news outlets this weekend.

Sourcing recycled content, creating a demand-pull effect, was what we were working on when I started at Massachusetts DEP in 1992.  It can be very big news.

Question:  How did I know about this almost 2 years before Apple's announcement?

Apple doesn't make its own stuff.  It's generally put together by a Shenzhen contract manufacturer like Foxconn or Wistron, which the blog has focused on many times.

Guess how we knew about Hong Kong EcoPark when we allowed a trial load of printers to go to Hong Kong - when our E-Steward downstream wouldn't pick up after several loads to their shredder?  When the BAN GPS Tracker was in our facility, and suddenly our shipments were mysteriously cancelled?

When I did background check on why Hong Kong would be paying for printer scrap again, before approving to the Chicago downstream replacing the E-Steward, I found that the $550M EcoPark tenants were sourcing scrap for plastic to be sold to a contract manufacturer in Shenzhen.   One who made devices with a major brand name label.

Lifecycle Analysis: CleanTech, "BrownTech", and Export Markets


What is the tension between "CleanTech" - e.g. a new hybrid car - and (what I'll call) "BrownTech"?  Repairing an older gas guzzler to run another year before mining, refining, consuming for new?

Early adapters proudly display their new CleanTech device.  As they should. By electively upgrading to a newer, environmentally-efficient device, they are sending signals to the market and to investors.  The early adapters are on the front lines, bringing the scalability (lowered cost and efficiency) to the new wind, solar, sustainable, recycled-content, non-toxic, etc. markets.

But being able to afford these elective #CleanTech upgrades is a privilege not shared by poor people, especially those in Emerging Markets (so-called "third world" countries).  For them, they are upgrading from a black and white 1967 television to a color 19" CRT.  From not having a phone at all to a flip Motorola.

The new #cleantech device trade shows are exciting.  So are ghetto repair shops. We are on the same spectrum of Life Cycle Analysis.  The differences are economic and cultural.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/Mariordo


2002 Article In Recycling Today Foreshadows WR3A, IFixIT, E-Stewards

While looking to upload some papers in Academia.edu, I ran across an article published by Recycling Today magazine in 2002 - by yours truly.  "Setting a Higher Standard" explained that boycotting the export market would be a "war on drugs" approach, forcing legit oversees reuse and recycling operations to meet demand via "back alleys".

Here are 3 conclusions about e-waste export policy at the end of the article (edited by Brian Taylor).

Looks sound.

1) Send Quality.  Meet the customers and find out what they want.  Just export that.  Don't throw a piece of junk on the container that you don't know what to do with.  This would become the foundation of WR3A.org and Fair Trade Recycling.

2) Support Reuse and Repair.  This forshadowed Ifixit.org, was influenced by repairfaq.org's Silicon Sam.  I'd used Sam's repair instructions while reviewing Chinese purchase orders, and found the Chinese buyers were giving instructions that would eliminate non-repairable units.  This led to the realization that China was not buying ANY CRT Televisions, only specific 15" and 17" CRTs, which meant the trade was not driven by cost externalization.  California SB20 went off a cliff that year.

3) Support Reputable USA companies.  This forshadowed R2 and E-Stewards.

Basel Action Network attacked me for writing the article, personally, and that is how I met Jim Puckett.  He blasted a response to the article via "Microsoft Outlook" and cc'd dozens of people whom I'd never met, but with whom I'd become acquainted over the years.

The article was sent to some folks at US EPA, who later hired me as a consultant for the 2006 Federal Register CRT Rule, which funded my second trip to Asia - this time bringing Craig Lorch of Total Reclaim and Lin King of UC Davis, to visit some of the "Big Secret Factories" that BAN was racially profiling as "primitive rice paddies".  (If you are researching MIT Senseable City Lab and BAN's Monitour project, there's a chestnut about this at the bottom of this blog).



TOP 10 Themes to Ingenthron's Good Point "e-Waste" Blog 2006-2016

If you are going to map this blog to take my insights for a thesis, article, or term paper you are writing, I'd be glad to help though I don't have that much time to insert links below. Let me know whether I've forgotten any.  Because I might be finished.

These ten themes have valuable lessons outside of e-waste policy.  They are examples of examining an electronics recycling problem, and finding a universal that will lead to more environmental justice (and less environmental malpractice) in other trade policies.


1) Mining a ton of material always pollutes more than getting the same ton by recycling.

The hand-wringing about "perverse consequences" of recycling can lead to improvements in the recycling process.  But any "gotcha" or "dirty little secret" stories need to face up to situations like copper mining at the OK Tedi Papua New Guinea, the lead mining at Kabwe, the 14/15 largest USA Superfund sites, etc.  If you dispose of X out of concern over it's recycling process, and the same quantity you disposed of has to be mined from a rain forest, don't pat yourself on the back.

2) Elective Upgrade Decisions are Relative, Tied to Value Added

The second-hand market allows a chain of affordable use.  When a rich person chooses to upgrade to a new device, the environmental costs of production (like mining) remain embodied in the old device, which is now affordable to someone who could not have afforded a new device.

This creates a "critical mass of users" in emerging markets necessary to support investment in cell phone towers, internet cable, satellites, TV stations, etc. You can't raise enough taxes to repave a road if none of your citizens owns/affords a car.  Don't feel guilty about getting something new - so long as your used good gets reused.



More below

Circular Economy and African Shanzhai: Under the Bridge



Shanzhai, or Shan Zhai, or sanzai...

I dropped the word "shanzai" recently.  In my mind, it's something I blogged about not that long ago (2011) - a term I learned from meeting Dr. Josh Goldstein at USC via Adam Minter.  But I do admit to that habit of dropping a word or a phrase in places where no one knows what I'm talking about (unless they do).

Like a reference to "the Keystone Cops", the word "shanzhai" went "whoosh" over the heads of my listeners.  But in a reuse and recycling context, it's a profound concept.  It is like a master guitarist finding that a fan has learned to play his riffs even better than he can.  It's the concept of taking an iPhone 6 and repairing it with bells and whistles that make it, virtually, like an iPhone 9 (yet to be invented).

Today's blog has three goals - 1) remind readers of the importance of shanzhai, 2) show some really awesome examples of Africans turning broken LCD TVs into things of higher value, and 3) explore the "poor communicator" dynamic which so often dumbs down own discussions. When is it necessary to go back and remind a new reader what a word means?  Often today, journalists and bloggers "hotline" the word by html to a definition somewhere else online, similar to a footnote.


So here's the thing - Shanzai is being re-defined in relationship to "counterfeit" stuff. In the same way the charitable industrial complex defined African electronic recycling with "bad" images of Agbogbloshie, and defined Chinese technology reuse with cesspools and rice paddies, someone is out to bury the concept of refurbishment itself, and to make it seem shameful.

And they are going to use European and American implicit racism and assumptions about Africans and Chinese people to keep the competition away.  Like second string white baseball players, the American and European "big shred" recyclers are frightened of competition from Jackie Robinson.

To be fair, shanzai does also mean borrowed or knock-off, but in Chinese it has a much more respected context.  As I explained in the blog, Shanzhai is respected in China, in the way that John Frusciante, 47, (Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist) respects Josh Klinghoffer, 37.  Klinghoffer copied Frusciante's guitar riffs and added a spice to them that put the Red Hot Chili Peppers on another level.

Here's what you will see in the blog below the "more" line:

1) Chili Peppers "under the bridge" video
2) An explanation of how I feel lonely explaining African exports (tied to lyrics)
3) A photo slide show demonstrating what Africans are doing with broken LCD TVs (like the ones Total Reclaim allowed to be exported to China)

And as usual, the conclusion

4) African geeks know more than we do, and the "circular economy" doesn't revolve around white people.

followed by

5) a blog-end of why it may be worth it to sometimes write a blog that's over most reader's level of expertise.

See if you can check the boxes



Defending Geeks of Color In Vacuum of Nuance



The April Fools blog on Saturday returned to familiar ground.  I'm a little uncomfortable with one of the jokes, which I softened in a later edit.  The GPS Not In 88 Electronic Recycler acronym was cringeworthy.

But in backing away, I'm also caving in to the neutering of nuance by political correctness.  You see, by nature of my privilege, many say I cannot joke about certain things.  Such as the white privilege of those who would criminalize used appliance repair.

Mark Twain's use of the n-word in Huckleberry Finn is still "controversial", at least among people whose IQs are either much higher or much lower than mine.

Essentially, the majority of human beings agree with me and not those who have claimed the mantle of "Steward".  But the majority does not have the e-waste megaphone.

Ghana Fair Trade Recycling Album

The strict European definitions that place repair and reuse under "waste management" regulators was a reaction to a false statistic, which was perhaps created innocently but was funded with millions of dollars of Planned Obsolescence, Anti-Gray-Market, and Big Shred money.  An obscene amount of money as compared with the number of dollars that ever went to the families of people whose photos among waste were used to pass the legislation and garner those donations.





Breaking News: GPS Recycling Miscegeny Trackers Flatten Circular Economy

[SEATTLE, WA 01.04.2015 00:01 april fools] MIT Sendable City lab announced today that a study with NGO Basel Acting Network has revealed a startling outcome, and a next stage.  The circular economy is flat.  And a Next Generation Tracking Devices has been developed to find reuse trade as it occurs.

The team will keep tracking the devices, as they move around between repair and reuse markets. But the next generation of trackers, the NI88ERGPS, will clearly identify boundries in the gray market.

"In our first effort, we thought that Basel Acting Network had tracked each of the GPS devices to its final resting place.  We called that end point 'Overseas'.  We thought we were finished," said Dr. Carl Ratty of MIT Sendable City Lab. "It turns out there are a lot of different places over there, and stuff keeps moving around."

The 1st Generation of GPS devices are still in motion.  88 different nations have continued to use, pass along, and exchange the devices.  Reuse is spiralling out of control, and it will take a new generation of trackers to make the crime - not disposal, but point of exchange - more black and white.

A 'point of pollution' requires that the device stop somewhere, in a dump. BAN's actual target is the exchange of goods and services between rich and poor, an act he labels electronic miscegenation.  These are not geographic "positioning" tracers.  They will trace "possession".

Continuing Final Outcomes:

"In 2016, we were certain that when the GPS devices landed in Faisalabad, Pakistan, that they were surely and finally buried, deep in the soil of a 3rd story electronics mall with escalators and dozens of reuse shops," said Basel Acting Network CEO Jim Plunckett.

But the first trial continued to track the property for as long as the batteries last.  Devices disposed in a primitive computer company's third shelf eye-level retail shop moved to a dormitory at Faisalabad University, 3 blocks away.


"We updated the report to show the devices new locations.  But they keep moving," said Ratty.

Devices sent to Tin Shui Wai in Hong Kong's Yuen Long district could be tracked going up an elevator, the a 14 floor apartment.  One device appeared to be in use in a hospital mobile cart.  A display device attached to a blood gas analyzer, the GPS tracker showed the cart moving up and down hallways, floor by floor in the Cairo General Childrens Hospital.

Plunckett sees a better solution than tracking an "end point".

E-Waste Tolstoy Syndrome: Best Answered by Africa Tweet?

Like the time limits in High School Debate tournaments, Twitter forces us to present a central thesis in a concise way.


This blog has been criticized for being "wordy" or "nerdy" and has certainly often been repetitive.  My "spaghetti on the wall" approach did work, however.  We only needed a small number of the posts to be read by an influential and respected group of journalists, academics, and regulators.

While Basel Action Network is still in the business of demonstrating its "Ayatollah of E-Waste" powers in the state of Washington, bringing its might to bear against Total Reclaim, the "export virgin" it heralded as a model for a decade, they have been completely ineffective at intimidating me.  That's because I'm using scientific method, logic, and transparency.



Q-Methodology And Fair Trade Recycling Negotiation - The News


Many readers already know about the E-waste research project, funded by a $469k grant secured by Dr. Josh Lepawsky at Memorial University, Newfoundland.  The project involves research in five countries - Mexico, Peru, Bangladesh, and China. I'm kind of doing Ghana on my own, as is Grace Akese of Memorial U, so I include it even though it's not part of the research funding.

We introduced Lepawsky to Josh Goldstein, a Ph.D. in Chinese History at USC, and Dr. Ramzy Kahhat of Pontifica Universidad Catholica Peru (PUCP).  Lepawsky and some grad students recently completed their first "assessment", based on indept interviews of workers at Retroworks de Mexico in Sonora.







Letter to Scott Adams Dilbert Blog



Last summer, a friend from Rhode Island asked if I'd read Scott (Dilbert artist) Adams blog predicting since 2015 that the most probable outcome of the 2016 election would be the election of Donald Trump.  Adams is intelligent, his reasoning is thought-provocative, and I've continued to read the blog, and many of its comments and tweets, for several months.

I've read reviews of the blog by commentators who "binge read" the blog.  Since I've been reading pretty steadily, and trading comments, I thought I'd break from e-waste policy to discuss the weaponization of psychology, persuasion, and hypnosis.  Because I don't think cramming his blog is the best way to absorb his thoughts on how to be, or not be, successful in persuasion.

Here is one example of Scott Adams blog, from January, titled "The Persuasion Filter and Immigration" which typically makes the case that none of us are "rational", that evolution has bred us to be "wet robots" responding to greed and fear through psychology.
"I’ve mentioned in this blog a few times that persuasion works even when the subject of the persuasion recognizes all the techniques as they happen. This is a perfect case. The left has been watching Trump make big offers and dial them back for the past year. And yet they still think this time it will be different. The Persuasion Filter says that 70-year old Trump will act the same way today as he has for the past several decades: Big first offer, then negotiate."
"But what about Trump’s critics on the far right who want more extreme immigration? Trump needs to negotiate with them too. And he is. He did that by showing them that his temporary offer was so extreme that people took to the streets. The system (America) is actively trying to eject Trump like some sort of cancer cell. And the worse it gets, with protests and whatnot, the more leverage Trump has to tell his far right supporters that he has gone as far as the country will let him go. He needed that. The protests are working in his favor. He couldn’t negotiate with the extreme right without them." 
As a business person, I found this very intelligent, and as a big supporter of immigration and globalization, I was frustrated as heck that the Left fell for Trump's January head-fake.   Trump had (in order to fulfill his 'campaign promise') appear to do something about "Muslim Ban" and artfully selected the exact same countries which President Obama had already issued an order to increase "vetting" of.  The left came out and protested, giving Trump the appearance of having done something dramatic.  Scott Adams was correct, this was artful on Trump's part.

Here's another one, which I think defends him well from accusations that his prediction was Pro-Trump persuasion or bias.  While he was certainly correct that Trump was being under-estimated, and using strong persuasion skills, he safely recused himself through this non-endorsement.
"My personal bias is that I don’t think any 70ish-year old person (Clinton or Trump) should be president. You wouldn’t hire a 70-year old into any other type of job that requires high energy, mental flexibility, and a possible eight-years of service. Why would we do it for the most important job in the land? And keep in mind that we haven’t seen detailed medical records from either oldster."Objectively speaking, we are likely to have incompetent leadership – because of age alone – no matter whether Clinton or Trump wins. That should scare you."-Scott Adams Blog, "Trump Prediction Update", August 10, 2016
And today, he said he was "Tracking His Persuasion".  It looks like he's using dollars to track it, because it's also pushing his books (as he has a software app, WhenHub, which I like in principle).

My challenge in the letter at the bottom of this blog is to convince Scott Adams that environmental science should be given the same respect - and no more - as the study of human health and western medicine.  There will be many, many false leads, correlations, conclusions, along the way.  But we are all more likely to live longer today (as noted by famous statistician Hans Rosling) because over time, the base of knowledge evolves, and the fittest policies survive.  We could be on the wrong track, Trump could be on the right one.  But Scott can't prove that "faith based medicine" would have created the vaccinations we live with today, and should beware of attracting the equivalent of anti-vax followers based on his ability to beat up straw men as political opponents.



"Exaggerations Have Been Made" - NGO Exec Director

He huffed and he puffed and he blew the Hoax down

I'm really busy this month, in part due to the month away (Austria IERC conference, then 3 weeks in Ghana).  And I was in the Ozarks all last week for my father's DNR and funeral, simultaneously dealing with a tornado that wiped out water, electricity, internet, and my mom and dad's barn in Arkansas.  So... the blog's always poorly edited, but this month I've got really good excuses for it.

Here's what sticks with me from the January IERC Austria conference.  I sat on a panel with Jim Puckett, the Executive Director of the E-Waste NGO Basel Action Network.  We were speaking to a crowd of about 100 European WEEE delegates.

I opened by saying I used to be a teacher in Cameroon, Africa, from 1984-86.  I'd recently been to Agbogbloshie, and was going back again immediately after the conference.  I told the European audience that the junk they had seen photographed there was generated by African households and businesses, after decades of reuse.  Yes, it was originally imported used, but almost always repaired and used for 10-20 years before Africans discarded it.  I told them that 30 years ago my landlord had no running water but owned a (used) TV.  I told them that there wasn't any mystery around the baseline data - the World Bank clearly says that MOST households in cities like Accra had TV or computer 20 years ago, and the assumption that junk captured by photo-journalists was "dumped" in hundreds of sea containers by unscrupulous recyclers was categorically false;  I told them I had met Michael Anane, that he was not telling the truth about Agbogbloshie being a remote fishing village and he had certainly not been fishing and swimming there 20 years ago, that I was unable to find any newspaper that employed him, and that the people I asked in Agbogloshie said he worked for the AMA, the municipal land development group that forcibly evicted thousands of Old Fadama slum dwellers near the site, which they have a published plan to develop into shopping malls etc. The junk is collected in pushcarts from Accra city streets. I told them that the World Bank and IMF determined 15 years ago that used electronics in Africa were essential to creating the "critical mass of users" to fund TV stations and programming, cell phone towers, and internet cable.  I told them that Africa's Tech Sector found "Project Eden" to be scary, a threat to their livelihood, and cringe-worthy as a moniker.

E-waste Ebola Connection?
In conclusion, I counted backwards from 3, snapped my fingers, and  told them to forget all of the things Jim Puckett had told them for the past 15 years.

Jim's response?

"I will admit, exaggerations have been made."

It strikes me, 6 weeks later, as an incredible use of passive voice.  Exaggerations "have been made" by someone.

Exaggerations have been made, indeed.  Agbogbloshie photos have now disappeared from the CAER website, the conference speakers were now talking about keeping copper inside Europe's "circular economy", and Blacksmith Institute had changed its name.  That NGO allegedly told journalists 2 years ago that Agbogbloshie was the "most polluted place in the world" - something Blacksmith then denied but wouldn't issue any clarifying statement, despite our sending evidence they were cited by the journalists as the source of the claims about Agbo.  They did not tell me how much money they received to "transform" and "save" Agbogbloshie...

WR3A is Fair Trade Recycling - 10 Years



The World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association, doing business as Fair Trade Recycling, was legally incorporated in Vermont a decade ago.  How have we done, and what it the status?

The group originally had great success by finding very very large import orders (places like Malaysia's Net Peripheral) and working as a collective to supply those orders from USA companies willing to export to the right people.  It was financially interesting to both the buyer and seller.  However, this model created a disincentive to add more members (increasing supplier members diluted USA members, recruiting demand members diluted vetted overseas companies).  Membership reached a critical mass it could not grow from.  We added more USA suppliers, the price of exported goods went down, etc.

The coop model severely imploded in 2012, when a copy of one of our audits of the Malaysia company was sent by a USA Big Shred investor to the Malaysia Department of Environmental Conservation.  The import letter was valid, Malaysia officials said, but they also visited the factory and took away the import permit.

"No good deed goes unpunished."


"Poverty was not created by export of used goods. Wealth was created by import of used goods."

Right To Repair Act - Grandparent Tire Time

Since we are on the subject of passing big laws to save our soldiers, African children, or UK's circular eddy current economy from lost strategic metals, here's a reminder of another big law out there.  EFF and IFixit remain the champions of protecting consumers from "copyright" and "patent" laws taking away their right to tinker with their cars, electronics, and other stuff.

This was a major battleground - in my mind - in the 1990s.  I was raised (here in the Ozarks, where I'm visiting for an unrelated EOL issue with a relative) that the smartest farmers knew how to fix stuff, and could save their family a lot of money by buying broke stuff from rich people who didn't know how to repair (or just wanted "elective upgrade").  Every summer my grandpa had me under a car or truck, showing me how they were making the spark plugs harder and harder to replace.  "Why in the world would they design this motor so that you need hydraulic motor hoist to change he spark plugs!?!?"  His suspicion was that they did it on purpose.

Copyright and patent laws entered into a gray area with software.  The right to own and copy some software that an author wrote was protected by different laws than protect the consumer's property rights and warranty rights under the Magnusum - Moss Act of 1975. Below is a rare "5-mod-up" comment of mine on the subject of Right to Repair on Slashdot /. which is a forum I started following at MassDEP when the internet was new, and I was researching electronics repair.



I've written about that law because when I first went to college and  Minnesota PIRG had a negative-check-off to add a fee to my Carleton College tuition bill, I wanted to know who PIRG was.  I read up on it at the library (nothing online then), and saw they were associated with consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader, who I learned about in high school when "planned obsolescence" and Vance Packard came up in class.




Trends of Peace and Urbanization

Urbanization is making humans peaceful. Terrorists generally come from non-urban areas. Look it up. It makes sense. And we are getting safer and safer, statistically, because humans are becoming more and more urban.
Journalism reports on crimes, and urban people have more access to journals.
So while people are becoming safer and safer to be around, more and more of us are reading about the danger.

SEERA, HR 917 - A New Protectionist Message?

First let me say that there are several paying members of the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) who I really respect.  We use several of them as subcontractors for our company. (My hunch is that they wouldn't want to be thanked here individually).

They haven't reached out to me directly, but appear to have taken serious note of admonishment on the blog.  They have dropped references to the "80% Dumping" claim (which was still on their website after Basel Action Network disavowed it).

The "perception - reality" logo, featuring the African guy carring a 1977 white Magnavox at Agbogbloshie is gone from the website.  "Primitive" Africans no longer feature in the press releases for the legislation that CAER was formed to promote...


But their interest is the same as any other heavy industry.  "Big Shred" are the companies with multi-million dollar investments in big heavy machines to automate electronics recycling.

Hans Rosling of Gapminder Recognized

A few years ago my son, then a student at United World College, sent me a link to "The Best Statistics You've Never Seen", a TED talk by Swedish doctor and statistician Hans Rosling.  I shared it pretty widely.  In recent years, Dr. Rosling (who still seemed quite young) was increasingly turning over presentations to his own adult son.  Last Friday, we learned Rosling had died of cancer [NYT Obituary]

Over Facebook and Twitter, Rosling has not exactly been a celebrity like Prince or Bowie, but you start to observe really really smart people are all noting his passing.

Here's a short 2015 interview with Rosling with Engish subtitles.   If you haven't seen it yet, go to one of his longer 2006 TED Talk video in English.



It isn't the 1970s.  It has not been the 1970s for over a decade.  The talk about "third world" and "lesser developed nations" and "primtive" and dystopian descriptions are being kept alive by a type of white nostalgia that seeks to leverage exoticism into a kind of nuture-instinct currency.  I do it even now - returning from Africa I find far more photos on my card of grass roofs than of metal ones.  We are attracted to documenting poverty, leveraging schadenfreude, gaining a fantasy of heroicism in the process.

 "Herrschaftskritischer Ansatz" is another good German expression to describe it.

Here is my observation about how Rosling's Gapminder can bring us together.  Yes, this is political.  The wealthier blue state democrat demographic and blue collar red state demographic are both guilty of portraying the rest of the world as seriously far more "other" than it is.







How To Pay For Africa E-Waste Cleanup? Part 3


Africans have a better idea about which view of Africa's the fine one

A month living with Africa's Tech Sector is like the opposite of the movie "The Matrix".  In the matrix all the humans think they are living in a normal world, but in reality dwell in torrid humid dystopic conditions.  Take the red pill, and you see the horror of reality...

Africa's Tech Sector has been described in halloweenish, dystopian, horrific terms by agents of the Charitable Industrial Complex, Big Shred, and Planned Obsolescence.  Take the blue pill, and you find a bunch of intelligent, happy, funny people living in a normal world of value added, growing standards of living, and healthy teledensity.

So just close your eyes, count backwards from Three, and when I snap my fingers, we'll solve Africa's real e-waste problems efficiently, fairly, and fairly quickly.

It's time for the good news!

Morpheus's "dirty little secret" isn't the truth.

The Truth in Africa isn't "Sodom and Gomorrah" or "Eden" either.  But it's a lot more like "Avatar" than it is "The Matrix".  Once you live here and see people are kind of the same, the solutions become easier to do.

There are simple and friendly and affordable solutions here.  (And the EU can still get all the unobtanium it wants.)  America is teaching Africa and Europe to "Dab" together, trade together, cooperate together.  With a little Interpol "community policing" we'll suffer less "collateral damage".

Dabbing to the Blue Pill!  Africa Dey FINE!

The Joy of Fair Trade Recycling, continued

How To Pay For Africa E-Waste Cleanup? Part II

So we've established that so far, "saving Africa from e-waste" has made a handsome profit for EU Policy makers, NGOs, Big Shred, and lazy photojournalists and prosecutors. 

We've established that like USA in the 1990s, Africans have a growing volume of junk televisions and computers.  Imported in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, the CRT televisions alone represent a modern "urban mining" project.

The kids at left - ALL of their grandparents had a TV when their parents were born.  This is not a "recent import" or "Basel Convention" disorder.

Here's the problem - Africa's Tech Sector, the repair and upgrade professionals, used to be able to sell third hand televisions and computers, collected from African consumers who traded them in or abandoned a repair after 'elective upgrade'.  They are increasingly finding it hard to resell 20, 30 and 40 year old "third hand" electronics.

Correctly diagnosing the problem is the first step to treatment.  Paying for the solution is the second step.

How to pay for the safe and effective recycling of used electronics abandoned at African repair shops - not by Europeans or Americans, but by African consumers who, eventually, decide not to pay for the repair of a 45 year old television set?

First, stop wasting money on environmental malpractice.


How To Pay For Africa E-Waste Cleanup?

15 years later, let's just ask what he imports
After 2 weeks back in Ghana, the #1 Finding of our research still stands.  E-Waste NGOs made up fictitious numbers about the percentage of imports to Africa that are "waste" and the percentage of waste in places like Agbogbloshie that come from faulty used good imports ("Exaggerations have been made" said Jim P. on our Salzburg panel).  Photojournalists flew to Accra (Agbogbloshie is about 20 minutes from the airport, 9 minutes from Accra's finest hotel), and took close-up photos of Africans in exotic poses.  And EU policymakers got project funding to "save" Africans from e-waste dumping.

Neither the NGOs, nor the journalists, nor the EU Policy funders checked out existing data on Accra stormwater runoff (the water quality at the Odaw Korle lagoon was hideous in the 1970s), the number of households with televisions in Accra 15 years ago, or the number of people employed in the scrap industry generally as compared to the number seen in Old Fadama slum of Accra. They didn't even find it on mapquest, which would show it's at the center of Accra, not a remote fishing village on the outskirts (as should have been suggested by the cab ride from the hotel). They would have found the phrase "Sodom and Gomorrah" appears in a 2002 AMA publication calling for razing the slum to build shopping malls and parking lots.

There was no basic secondary research.  No control group.  No null hypothesis.

Waste Perception Creates Image Problem

Last spring Resource Recycling published an article following WR3A research into leaded silicate mining.  Long before my days as a regulator (Massachusetts DEP 1992-99) I had noticed how recycling happens in cities where property values (NIMBY) made compliance expensive.  Virgin mining and forestry, while far more damaging and polluting, happened farther away from property values, and was thus less regulated.

Here in Ghana, we are looking at lead and zinc mining streams as a way to "piggy back" CRT glass back to secondary primary ore refiners.  Rather than try to construct a "takeback" program aimed at manufacturers (popular because they are extremely costly, charging high fees in a bargain with Planned Obsolescence to squash the secondary market), merely cite the "circular economy" and toss the CRT tubes back into containers bearing Pb Ores.  Africa mines primary leaded silicates for export to refiners in wealthy - and less wealthy (China, India) - nations.  And some of those ores are chemically identical to CRT glass.

And there is no "EPA-EU" "Waste" "speculative accumulation" paperwork or R2 or E-Steward #bs to make it economically unfeasible.  I keep hearing in the west that CRT glass is "impossible" to recycle in Africa, a continent where primary ores are frequently the number one export.  This is a clear case of the EU and USA shooting itself in the foot, and then demanding Africa, Asia, South America follow "equivalent practices" prior to engaging in strategic metals trade.

The difference between recycling and mining is largely an image problem.  It doesn't take much imagination to solve problems like CRT glass recycling markets.  It means being willing to listen to people outside of your "circular economy" box.

Vermont, Hertogenbosch, Salzburg, Accra...

The last time when I went to Ghana for 3 weeks, I actually had quite a bit of downtime to write and read.  So I'm guessing I may do the same.  Right now, I'm at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.  My pal (first introduced as "Ghana Techie" via the blog 6 years ago) Wahab has met the first visitor at the airport now.  We have 3 more visitors arriving tomorrow - documentary film crew from Europe - and need to coordinate visits with professor Isham of Middlebury, DK, etc.

When I talked in Salzburg, to the Europeans, there was not a single African there, though Africa has been called the dirty little secret.  I was in this kind of weird space that I've often critiqued Jim Puckett for being in - the white savior speaking on behalf of the oppressed.  Nameless and faceless as Viet Cong soldiers, Jim speaks for the orphans pawing through toxic junk, and I speak for the noble Geeks of Color, the Joe Bensons, arrested and goods seized, etc.

So it is strange.  The flight I'm boarding (the line is now much shorter, gotta wrap this up) is fairly inexpensive.  For Europeans, the trip to Ghana is almost like a UCLA fraternity crossing to the Tiajuana border.   Poverty porn, or donkey porn, it's seen the same way by the people who live there.

How to Categorize Part 2: Derivatives of Martin Luther King Jr

Yesteday's post wasn't well edited (I added some clarifiers this morning from my room in Salzburg, Austria).  But I was happy writing it, because I felt something was coming together somehow, it felt like something crystallized.  Sometimes those are the worst submissions, sometimes the best.  But in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday in the USA, I hope that it channels Reverend King's letter written from Birgmingham prison, with pen and paper.  No backspaces, no click and delete.

Someone I met and admire here in Europe stayed up with me last night (we arrived on the same flight), arguing and pontificating about Trump's election, e-Waste policy, economics, and family.  It was a broad enough discussion, lasted well past midnight.  He and I don't always agree, though he's reasonable enough that I hope he'll be able to look back and see the fallacies in the EU position in hindsight (or I will - I had to come back to my room and research some stuff when we left).

The next day, it all seemed to fit in 140 characters.  Second, below the first 'pinned' tweet below.

Criticism of method or regulation isn't "attacking" the regulator.  It is defending the innocent from unjust prosecution.  And a regulator or prosecutor who persists in using methods or enforcement proven to be constructed on false premises is liable for environmental malpractice.

< That's boiled down to 140 characters at left.

Shouldn't we try to get along?  Or is the false consensus built upon white privilege, and we need to represent the Geeks of Color, whose comments were ignored in PACE Initiative?

The discussion came in response to Jim Puckett's constant claim that this is an "attack blog" and that I am "insulting" or "attacking" his poor non-profit organization.  This has been Jim's go-to response for several years now, since I wrote a guest editorial "We Shouldn't Have to Make That Choice" in Resource Recycling in 2009.  It was one of the first blogs turned editorial, and it was cited by Grahm Pickren in his 2014 thesis, Political Ecologies of Electronic Waste: Uncertainty and Legitimacy in the Governance of E-Waste Geographies.

The editors of Resource Recycling liked it, thought it was nuanced.  But Jim Puckett, in emails to me personally and to the editors (demanding a right to response, which they gave him) called it an "attack" which he could not let stand.  In that email, he threatened to go after me personally, and my business and employees, if I did not refrain from criticizing his policy.

How To Categorize People Properly: Beware Those Who Accept 80%ism

Do's and Don'ts for categorizing people.

80/20 Rule is useful enough... which is why we must be careful with it as is.  Exaggerating that "80%" of someone or something is bad is over the top, the worst insult.

We all need to make simplifications, rules, and shortcuts to efficiently survive.  The most famous and useful generalization is the "80 / 20 Rule", aka the Pareto Principle, which says that 80% of the value is in 20% of the transactions or stuff.  It's a risk management principle as well - 80% of the danger is in 20% of something.  I applaud this principle, and use it all the time in business, especially in training new staff.  What we teach people the first month on the job is the 20% of things they need to know to get 80% of the work right.  The learning curve is eventually going to kick in if training is regular and consistent.

But the 80-20 rule has a downside, too.  Donald Trump is on his way to being infamous based to his brute appeals to this kind of generality.

We can all imagine how we'd feel if the generality was actually reversed... there is nothing that feels more racist and insulting than to have your own demographic group called 80% stereotype.   Consider these horrible insults...

80% of men are rapists
80% of women are incompetent
80% of German citizens are Nazi apologists
80% of white Americans are racists
80% of black Americans are drug dealers

Most readers would agree that the statements above are difficult to even read.  They are simplifications that appeal - in the worst and falsest way - to the human instinct to generalize.  I'd call it hate-speech.  When I even use these as examples in conversation, I can see my friends blood pressure rising.

Now imagine I make it about how professionals do their work.  It's not racist, but a class of people nonetheless.

80% of doctors mistreat their patients.  
80% of carpenters build homes that fall down.
80% of environmentalists perpetuate hoaxes.
80% of soldiers shoot innocent civilians.
80% of police falsely accuse innocent suspects.

Ok, it no longer counts as "hate speech" if it's about a profession rather than a culture or race or demographic, right?


















"80% of used computer importers dump junk to pollute their countries."

Imagine how Jaleel, 34, above, feels about that?  Jaleel is a guy who worked very hard in school, excelled beyond expectations for people from his village.  He was a great saver, a marshmallow experiment prodigy (see Standford Marshmallow experiment below for the "type" of person he is).

Or Jaleel's young son?



















Or Jaleel's boss, Kamel?


Or his co-workers?





Or his father?


Or the people he buys stuff from, every day, in the market?  See, just how the "white lie" pervaded Europe, it is pervading Africa in the opposite direction.   The Africans all know the 80% lie.  Just the same as you'd know it if something extreme like that was said about you.



The number of educated European policy students and professors and German photo-journalists may well be impressed.  If your audience is the Privileged, you have safely made their discard decisions easier to navigate, and they will applaud you.

But the collateral damage to your organization from the people who know people who could not possibly have afforded internet, television, cell phone, or other teledensity measure if-not-but-for Jaleel and his world, is enormous insult.  They have never actually lived in a world where they are a "minority", and they really don't have first hand experience with Racism against Minorities, which is the subject or most writings on the R-word.

But it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck.

 It's 80=percent=ism.

I'm defining as "80%ism" the reverse of the Pareto 80/20 rule.  It is the description of 80% of something in the worst possible way, knowing that human nature may confuse it with the 80% of the perceived risk that comes from 20% of the population.  My hunch is that the 80/20 rule is used subconsciously by so many people that we perceive its 80% bad as a hyperbolic insult, and at the same time fear that people will "compromise" emotionally and consider 20% of us to be bad as a "likelihood".


So how do we harness the awesome power of the Pareto Principle, to simplify and economize the way we treat people, without triggering fear of generalizations and false identifiers?  Like a gun, most of us want the simplification method to be in the hands of authorities who protect us.  But we don't want it to be a short-cut or label for whole groups of geographies and demographics and religions and sexual orientations, etc.  To some, "politically correctness" verges on "disarming the police".  But none of us like it when it happens to us.  As comedian Chris Rock said, if a guy goes ballistic and kills his co-workers, it's probably a white guy.  But that's actually what occurred in San Bernadino, CA, and because it WASN'T a white guy, candidate Trump used the occasion to invoke the infamous "Muslim Ban".  That's how sharp the 80-20 simplification knife cuts.  Today it's pointed at a threat, and you feel a little safer that if only 20% of the people cut really were a threat (and 80% were innocent), that it's not your problem.  But when you are the subject of the "great rounding of numbers", nothing feels more threatening.

So I'm out of time, but here are two very famous psychological studies from the 1960s and 1970s which can help you to properly generalize people... and not by race or culture.  Not at all.  But these are really the things that you should be concerned by.

Stanford Marshmallow Experiment - This study looked at kids who were tested as follows.  They had to sit still at a table, hungry, and look at a sweet (marshmallow) for an hour or 30 minutes or something.  They were told that if they waited the whole time and didn't eat it, they would get two marshmallows (double ROI return on investment).  If they ate it, they would not.  The Stanford researchers kept track of the students, and found that those who had NOT waited for the second marshmallows performed poorly (economically) the rest of their lives.  Whether that's because they lacked discipline, lost accrued interest, or otherwise succumbed to instant gratification, is speculation.  Perhaps (I have pointed out) they lived in a culture where the Authority Figure (the one who made the "deal" over the marshmallows) is less likely to be truthful.

If so, then the Authoritarian Regimes the Global South is notorious for (to generalize) have a long term effect on the citizenry and the economics.  Accrued interest, Einstein supposedly noted, is the most powerful force in the known universe... nothing naturally observed grows at that rate since the Big Bang.

Milgram Experiment - this infamous experiment tested unwitting participants willingness to inflict pain on a third party if told to do so by an authority.  Just to simplify, about one third of people will refuse to do harm to the third party on moral grounds, about one third will inflict the pain or harm on the third party if told to do so by an authority.  And one third in the middle has to somehow be convinced, or it depends, or it's a little unknown.

What Nazis did was scare the hell out of that middle group by not threatening them directly, but by selecting a minority - should be kept at 5% or under - and applying the 80% Racist Stereotype against them.  Kill them.  Show absolute authoritarian power.  The "follows authority" group will do so, the wishy-washy middle just want to make sure they are not IN that minority.

This is how we should catergorize other humans.

By what they do when told something by an authority.

And who is willing to tell the most vulgar, exaggerated lie -  not that 20% of some people are unsafe to deal with, but that EIGHTY percent are unsafe.  That's the hypnotic power of evil, taking the naturally assumed, frequently good-enough 80/20 rule, and reversing it so that privileged white people in Europe actually feel really good about putting TV repairman Joe Benson in prison for fixing TVs.  They actually are hypnotized or persuaded that by doing so, they are agents of conscience, doing something good for the environmnet, saving the poor.

The problem is the false authority.

For Jaleel's network of humans, it's the Ayatollah of E-Waste.  He doesn't know it, but he threatens them with poverty and all the death, destruction, lack of education, etc. that goes with it.  And the most dangerous authorities are not evil people, they actually believe their simplism.  They know perhaps it's only 20%, not 80%, of exporters are violators, but they write laws focused on their own fame, and the number of people who believe they saved Africans, rather that dropped bombs on them.

Sorry, "collateral damage" is not an excuse for reversing the 80-20 rule to create a stereotype that makes bomb-dropping more acceptable to the privileged third of people following your authority.  You lied.  You damaged people.  And there is no way to cover this up, hundreds of students are doing forensics on it.  You