Oscar Adrian Orta: WR3A Intern from Mexico

Introducing Oscar A. Orta:

eWaste Translator!
E-waste Researcher!

E-peacekeeper and e-diplomat with the
Good Point Tribe...

e-Senor! Oscar! Adrian! Orta!!

Oscar was initially an intern for WR3A who became more of an intern / assistant / marketing whiz for Retroworks de Mexico and Good Point Recycling, in 2008.  He was recommended by his godmother and Retroworks de Mexico cooperativa executive (Alice) in Sonora.  Her email introduction was subject:title "Eager Oscar", and that introduction stays with me still.

Oscar was a student of entrepreneurial studies at Instituto Tecnol√≥gico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.  It was a chic student city life, but Oscar's dad (who was a primary architect and contract manager for construction jobs in Mexico and Arizona) needed him to take a semester off and earn some money.

We have never had a more popular intern/guest as far as my kids go.  Oscar played soccer with them and they found him high on the "cool" meter.  My family has actually been with me to visit WR3A markets in Cairo and Mexico, and they have lived with my "eco international house" philosophy and visitors from Africa, South America, Asia and Europe.  But Oscar is the only international visitor to still call our house on the twins birthday.  Suave.

Oscar's English is superb.  Whether it's from his university training, or his home schooling with Alice, it's by far the best bilingualism I've seen from any of our partners.  This made Oscar's first job, translating Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and facility closure plans, etc., a "piece of cake" for Oscar and an important contribution to our program.

Oscar failed to save enough to go directly back to University of Monterrey at Guadalajara, but based on his fast translations and hooking us up with buyers of TVs from Venezuela and Peru, we were eager to keep him around.  Oscar lived with other visitors in my home that year, from Egypt to Peru to Senegal to Mexico to Malaysia (pictured at top with Ow Young Su Fung of Penang).  He represented us at ESCRAP in Glendale, AZ (an amazing conference), and later took time in Arizona to represent Retroworks de Mexico, setting up collections in Tucson and Glendale.

Oscar was one of our youngest interns thrown into the most responsibility, and I'd venture to say he learned a lot.  He was there when American Retroworks Inc. bought the 50k s.f. building in Middlebury, he was there when we expanded the warehouse in Douglas.  Sadly, we could not keep Oscar on payroll, even though he was finding great markets for working and repairable TVs across Southern and South America, because his visa ran out and legal working visas are next to impossible.  As everyone in economics agrees, from the conservative Cato Institute to the New York Times, Mexican immigrants play a vital role in the economy and actually LOWER CRIME RATES... that's right, the more Mexican immigrants in your USA town, the lower your crime rate.

Mexican immigrants also increase employment of USA companies.  Oscar is a case in point.  Oscar's ability to add value to "obsolete NTSC analog" televisions by finding them homes in Peru was something that created income and jobs for the Vermont staff.   If he was replaced by a Vermonter without his language and ability to create sorting criteria for latinos with electronics repair savvy, we would make less money on the TVs and would probably eliminate the reuse and testing TV jobs.  Taking 10% away from crushing and selling them for reuse adds more jobs and more value per ton than the demanufacturing or shredding of those same TVs.


What I remember most was Oscar's easy integration and interaction with the entry level staff in Vermont.  He met people his age, who basically complained about their jobs at Good Point Recycling a lot more when they figured out Oscar was sharing a house with me (he became a back channel for the complaints to the boss).   He had to navigate the relationships between American labor and management, and the Mexican labor and management.  One Vermont "wannabe competitor" told our staff that Oscar was there to take their jobs away and outsource them to Mexico, and he also called some of our key clients. Despite that, when the bastard lost his own job and fell on hard times, Oscar reached out to him and tried to help him get back into a different business.  There was an young employee, a college grad, who took Oscar to Niagra Falls with him and introduced him to his family in NY... When the young staffer Matty died unexpectedly last year, Oscar was heartbroken and continued to reach out to Matty's family and friends.

What will I remember about Oscar ten years from now?

That he still skypes and calls us regularly, to ask about my twins birthday, tries to keep up with friends he made here, etc.   Oscar was one of the best examples of the positive interactions between Mexico and USA, but also a victim of inability to get work permits and a statistic in the constant delays and equivocations in rules about crossing borders with "e-waste" or "e-commodities".

There is not a bad bone in Oscar's body (though he wakes up 2 hours later than the other Mexican estagaires), and there is not a bad second in his time in Vermont as it affects Americans and American jobs.  This was all win, win, win.  I wish I could have hired him on full time.  But EPA and SEMARNAT killed that idea with the sounds of silence, and Arizona nailed the coffin shut with their anti-immigration bill.  I'm all for legal immigration if there IS any. But there is a myth in the popular culture that somehow the unemployed United Auto Workers are going to pick strawberries if we simply refuse to create a guest worker program.  If we don't allow any immigration while banning illegal immigration... its like the war on monitors, and the war on drugs.

Supply and Demand, like Bonnie and Clyde, are lawbreakers.  Regulating supply by what supply lobbyists accept, and demand according to the free market, is dysfunctional.  It keeps good people from buying working monitors, and keeps people like Oscar from working in Arizona to inspect the monitors before importing or exporting them.

And it keeps Oscar from writing his name in the snow...

Racism supports myths that legal immigration creates unemployment, and that immigration leads to crime, when it does the opposite.  Now racism is creeping into environmentalism, with nasty stereotypes of recycling and repair and reuse jobs overseas.  If the face is black or tan, it's easier to confound "repair" with "e-scrap recycling" and make them all look like "e-waste" jobs.

When you hire Mexicans to do repair and reuse and recycling in the USA, they have to climb over mountains and fields and deserts, only to be with you, and are called criminals by the right.  When we create jobs for Mexicans in Mexico, we are accused of "exporting harm" by the left.  Filling translator and testing and fair trade recycling jobs with unemployed bankers and automobile union workers isn't happening.   What do you wind up with?  Like a dog in the manger, we shred up the working TVs and monitors, and then tax Americans (indirectly, through new electronics sales) to pay for the lost revenue.   And we pat ourselves on the back and call ourselves "stewards"?

Environmentalism, Racism.  Oh?  You've already met?

Only to be with you.  This U2 vid is at 2,999,xxx hits, let's push it over the top.

1 comment:

Oz said...

Thanks for this blog entry Robin. I had read it before but hadn't left a comment.

-Oscar