Monday, December 23, 2013

Everything Breaks

     Last week I had to buy a new printer--both of mine died.  Six months ago my refrigerator broke and I bought a new one;  the ice maker didn't work from day one;  eight technician visits later it still hasn't been fixed.  The technician is coming out again this afternoon, but he says he doesn't know what's wrong.
     This year I've had to replace an oven, refrigerator, two printers, a computer, a television, two toilet handles, a DVD player, a bathtub drain, a washing machine, three hose nozzles, ten irrigation heads, a pair of muck boots, bathroom tile, a faucet, porch screens, rotten deck boards, and a gutter.   Planned obsolescence is working too well.  Things are supposed to break, according to the capitalist program for keeping our economy endlessly stimulated.  And we're supposed to keep buying things.  But my refrigerator was broken when I bought it--that's how well capitalism is working in this country.  Maybe I should buy another new one.
     IPods were built with irreplaceable batteries that lasted little more than a year--until someone sued Apple and forced the company to guarantee the battery for two years.
     Where does all that broken stuff go?
     Isn't something always breaking in your life?   If you own a home or a car your second job is keeping all your stuff maintained.  The roof leaks, the dryer locks up, the air conditioner goes out, the hose nozzles get corroded, the toilet flappers don't stick, the microwave gets weak.  We're selling our lives to the products we own, products designed to make us keep spending money.
     It's not that engineers don't know how to build things that last.  There are electric light bulbs that can burn for a hundred years, and cars that get a hundred miles per gallon--but they're not available for purchase.  Cartels keep these products out of our reach.  Manufacturers embed a chip into printers so that after 10,000 pages the components inside program the printers to fail.  "You might as well buy a new one," the company representatives are trained to say.
     Does anyone do repairs?
     Please click the video link below and get a bit of the inside story on manufacturers.  If nothing else you'll get the name of a website that tells you how to deprogram the chip in your printer so it won't crash after 10,000 copies.  You might decide join the growing coalition to stop buying things you don't need, and to fight planned obsolescence.  Maybe you'll decide to throw out your cell phone, as I did this year, in order to take back a little time for myself.  Maybe we should all stop shopping.

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