2020-10-11 Right To Repair

This morning on CBS Sunday Morning they had an article about a farmer who couldn’t repair his $800,000 John Deere tractor and lost several days of work. There is a growing movement in the US to make laws that require manufacturers to allow their customers to repair the equipment they own. This is a backlash against manufacturers such as Apple who make it difficult for consumers to open up their devices to do something as simple as replace a battery.

One company rep said, “allowing the customers to repair would undermine the integrity of the equipment.”

What is absurdly ironic is that the unrepaired equipment has no ‘integrity’ whatsoever! It’s not working! So how could repair undermine something it doesn’t have? It has lost its integrity to a failure that should not have happened, typically caused by a defective component. One might say that the equipment should not be losing its integrity to begin with, therefore it’s the responsibility of the manufacturer to repair the defect. This is otherwise known as a warranty. It’s just longer than the customary one year.

Another irony is that as devices such as vehicles have become more technically sophisticated the manufacturers have added self-diagnostics to the device’s capabilities and an interface to allow the diagnostic tool to be connected to the device (like an OBD2 port on a car). So now that it’s easier for anyone to find a problem, the consumer is faced with more prohibitions by manufacturers on repairing what they own.

The manufacturers are realizing they are facing a turning point in the way consumers will have to treat the products they buy. The products have to no longer be treated as disposable. The product lifetimes will have to be longer than five years in order to reduce the amount of waste that is causing plastic pollution. And the batteries inside many products are valuable because of the high costs of their chemical ingredients, so they should be recycled.

The unfortunate reality is that the manufacture of these items takes a lot of energy. And the world must cut the amount of energy and hence the amount of fossil fuels that are being wasted as devices that can be repaired are replaced by a new device.

Another article on this Sunday Morning was an interview with Jon Bon Jovi. They played a bit of “You give love a bad name” and it instantly brought to my mind a phrase that I think applies to the pandemic: “You give life a bad name.”

After this, they had a piece on Q Anon. They said the House passed a resolution condemning Q Anon and 17 Republicans voted against it. Verrry strange.

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