Spiral Economy Trumps Circular Economy: Part 2 Capitalist Theory

In Part 1, the competitive economic interests of nations, industry, and graduates were weighed in the battle for "good enough" markets.   If 1 billion Africans, 1 billion Chinese, 1 billion Indians, etc. are buying manufactured goods for the first time between 1960 and 2010, that's a lot of material and a lot of money.

1) Value Added New Industrial Goods
2) Value Added Second-hand Goods
3) Clean Graded Raw Materials
4) Raw Materials Requiring Disassembly Labor
5) Waste Dumping

The biggest change in that half decade were #1 New Industrial Goods manufacturing being relocated to the "Global South" in pursuit of greenfield manufacturing and lower labor rates.  Whether that industry was owned and controlled by "home" governments (CCP China, India) or outsourced by Western companies, the net effect had at least one positive outcome.

1) Goods got cheaper for consumers
2) More consumers (in emerging market economies) had income for goods

One effect was growth of the "1%" richest people. I can get my head bitten off for writing this in Vermont, but it's a math problem.  The economy doesn't actually accrue via "proportions".

The less profit I make on one individual buyer, the more extraordinarily rich I can be.  Taking a 20% profit off of 300 million transactions doesn't make me filthy rich.   But taking a 1% profit on 7 billion transactions will make me "One Percenter".  As more people on Earth can afford more stuff, the proportion of income held by the top percent increases.  Most of the "margin" on the 300 million units goes into making them cost $100 per (7 billion) transaction instead of $1,000 per  transaction.

What we want is for little brown boys to be able to buy used gadgets for $50 instead of brand new gadgets for $500 each.  We want them to save their $450 and hopefully, one day, have mutual funds.  But whenever I mention my dream of Africans owning mutual funds in a generation, I get looked at like I've just said hillbillies will in the next generation work in Japanese owned truck factories in Arkansas?  If I'd said that in 1970s, I'd  get that look, but a generation later and Hino Trucks are built in Arkansas.   So yeah, my goal is for kids in emerging market to not only get onto the internet, but to vote in democracies and save money and educate their daughters, and this "ewastehoax" is getting in my way, big time.

What's next?  Africans assembling TVs for Chinese companies?  Oh... done that @Hisense in 2013.

Hisense factory

Spiral Economy Trumps Circular Economy: Part 1 Protectionist Rules in Emerging Markets

The debate is over 5 Markets

1) Value Added New Industrial Goods
2) Value Added Second-hand Goods
3) Clean Graded Raw Materials
4) Raw Materials Requiring Disassembly Labor
5) Waste Dumping

Very large, emerging, but historically agrarian markets like China and India have somewhat ironically tended to be more Marxist in their economics.  While Marx predicted that Communism would be the logical evolutionary outcome of very large industry, it was the relatively rural Russia (compared to Europe generally), and agrarian China, which implemented Communism.

Jujitsu Lesson: Toxic Culture of Victim Identity

Over the decades, this poverty identity has grown from subconscious awareness to thematic.

A few weeks ago, Awal Basit [E-waste Scrapper, Dying for Attention, 1/16], one of the leaders of the "Scrap Men" (rather than "scrap boys", cred to Lalouschek/Wondergem) was calling my cell phone a ridiculous number of times per day.  I try to keep relationships with people I spent weeks with in Ghana.  Drive by saviorism isn't sustainability.

The technicians - Kamaldeen, whose dad made me the fairtraderecycling,com bracelet, Elvis, Yussif, Kamal and his wife, etc [all from Chendiba Enterprises]- might call occasionally, and we chat by Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp at least a few times per week.

How's it going?  How's the family?  Hey, it's national service day.  yeah? what's that?  You know, it's good to stay acquainted.

Awal and the scrappers are the Ghanaians of the north who never went to school.  He struggles even with Pidgin English.  Awal's text messages, outside of a few platitudes, are a mystery.  He's from the other side of Tamale's tracks.

The young men burning wires in Agbogbloshie typically don't have the parenting or resources of Chendiba dudes.  Geeks of color are typically valedictorians. Awal and his crew are not just "out of Africa", they are out of an unpenned Soukous Hilife William Faulkner novel.  They all live in a poor country, they all come from the same tribe and language and region.  But the Chendiba Techs are using downloaded schematics to fix TV tunerboards. They feel somewhat awkward around the guys who took the bus to the big city and live in a lean-to on Agbogbloshie's skid row.

In the Simpsons, the Chendiba techs are Lisa, and Awal is ("ha-ha") Nelson.  Awal is on the streets and he has to show he's tough.  He calls me whenever he feels like, having evolved far afield of pleasantry and shyness.  When I get perturbed and stop taking his calls (usually when I've forgotten to turn on airplane mode and my phone goes off at 3AM with the whispering distinctive ring I've applied), he starts sending photos on whatsapp.  Photos of burning wire.

"Your guilt gives me leverage!"
As I said before, he wants attention.  He's alone.  He sees an opportunity but doesn't understand what to do with it  Like the proverbial dog who caught the bus, Awal has a personal relationship with someone he may imagine to be as rich as Donald.  And what got him that attention, and the interviews with Justin Weinrich and other photojournalists, is burning wires.

When someone begins to feel that their disadvantage is their attraction, it can become toxic in a whole new sense.  As in toxic employee, toxic manager.  I'm important because of my gripe.  My victimhood, my lack of privilege, is the only currency I have.  Your guilt gives me leverage.

Pick Your Story: Anyone can PhotoJournal in Africa!

Impressed by Washington Post, Guardian, Independent, National Geographic, and NGOs documenting "Ewaste Crime"?

Don't be!  It's easy!  You can call, on the phone, today, the poster "children" (in their 20s) who adorn the pages of guilt-staining photojournalism.

Some of the photos below are from expensive documentaries.  Others - of the same people - were taken with the dudes over lunch, or sent to me by WhatsApp or Facebook.   Everyone can be like Essick, Hugo, Belini, McElvaney and other photojournalists.  Fly to Accra airport, the "Agbogobloshie" dump is just 20 minutes away.  Spend the night at the Movenpick Hotel.

What are you waiting for?  GET YOUR PULITZER!

It's incredibly easy!  You can do it, too!  And  unlike people who live there, or try to engage in trade, you get paid and don't even need to learn any names.  Take the money and run.

Or if you like, stay and interview Mohamed Saidu Rachid (top) and Awal Basit (bottom).  Stay involved and stay engaged.

Another Study Reveals Africa's Tech Sector knows its STUFF (#ewastehoax)

The new 2016 Report, published by United Nations University, is 39 pages.  What is remarkable about it is not only that it arrives at almost exactly the same "ewaste" percentages as documented by academics (like Josh Lepawsky of Memorial University, who was savagely mud-slung by a certain NGO director in Seattle last month).  The #ewastehoax around places like Agbogbloshie has been roundly covered by several academics, Basel Secreteriat (the ACTUAL international organization, not the USA charity using its name), and data journalists.

Again, disclaimer - poverty in Africa isn't fake. Toxics in Africa aren't fake.  What was faked was the narrative that EU and USA recycling programs dump waste and are responsible for the poverty or toxics.

What's remarkable about the UNU study is two things.  First, it uses completely different data sets from MIT, Memorial U, US ITC, and data journalism by #ewasterepublic Jacopo Ottaviana, etc... but arrives at the same conclusions.  For example, the chart below shows that less than 1% of Europe's used electronics are exported intact .
Very, very little of Europe's e-waste gets exported intact.  In fact, I interpret the data to say that Europe is being waaay too conservative - the percentages of working and non-obsolete goods is way higher than what is being sent overseas.

And very, very little of the junk in Africa's junkyards (like Agbogbloshie) came directly.  More than 95% of Africa's "ewaste" is its own, devices imported decades ago, used productively for years.
Some individual countries, they say, have higher or lower incidents of transboundary movement which is junk... but that begs the question... if it's an individual country like Burkina Faso, they are getting used electronics from wealthy cities like Accra.  As Lepawsky and Mather already documented, there are used goods traded WITHIN the global "south".

These screenshots shows exactly what I've been telling UNU and StEP since New Orleans in 2006.  The "Stuff" in the "Story of Stuff" gets used for YEARS and is EVENTUALLY discarded and recycled.   What's the first intact piece we photographed in Agbogbloshie?  It was a scrapper's VCR device that Adam Minter and Isaaco Chiaf and Jacopo Ottaviana (#ewasterepublic) stooped to photograph.  Africans imported millions and millions of used VHS players - IN THE 1980s and 1990s!  In Joe Benson's itemized packing lists, there isn't a single VHS player.  BECAUSE AFRICANS NOW WATCH DVD and STREAMING and soon, digital TV broadcasts.  The latter will generate exactly what it did in the USA - waste analog CRTs.  But those aren't being imported anymore to places like TEMA which have already switched to digital.

Golly gee, Colonialists, the evidence is that Africa's Tech Sector knows it's STUFF.

What Joseph Benson said on camera was the truth.  What Mike Anane said on camera was a lie.  Africa's Tech Sector needs reparations.