Why Don’t Things Last Anymore?

This is an internal dialogue I had the other day. Imagine there is another person, hence the “dialogue” comment.

Me: Why is that that the things we buy these days are designed to break 3 days after the warranty expires rather than last a lifetime?

Not Me: Well, silly boy, that is the idea of obsolete consumerism. Make things that people want and they spend money to get them. They break, so they buy more of the things they want. Didn’t you study that at the expensive college you went to?

Me: No, I started taking business classes but they were confusing and boring to me so I changed majors. Now I am a poor healthcare worker, treating the patients I love, working insane hours and donating all my money to those who apparently need it more than I do, since I never have any left over each month. 

Not me: No, you are very wise. Give your money to others who can use it more intelligently than you do. Those of us in the world of real money depend on those of you who don’t know any better to keep buying things that break. For example: That cell phone that you bought? The one you loved? What just happened to it? 

Me: It broke. It was awesome. I loved it. It was so small it fit in my shirt pocket along with everything else I carry. It just got to to the point where nobody could hear me on it. 

Not me: Can you live without it?

Me: Yes 

Not me: Do you want to?

Me: NO!

Not me: So what did you do?

Me: I bought a another one.

Not me: Why?

Me: Because I am stupid? 

Not me: Yes, and because of that little known fact that even though we could have continued making that cheap little phone, we elected not to. As a result, we milked another $85.00 out of you because the mail in rebate is worth $50.00. Will you ever mail it in?

Me: Not likely. I haven’t used a post office in years. Do they still make stamps? I mean, you actually have to , “shudder”, lick them still? They outlawed that didn’t they?

Not me: Only for children and those with more intelligence than you who buy old broken down electronics. For you, we require you lick the stamp just to remind you of your silliness. So see, we are way smarter than you, because we don’t have to mail the $ 50 to you. You don’t even know where a post office is anymore. If it doesn’t go through email you have no use for it and you don’t even own any stamps. Here you go. Start licking.

Me: Yuck.

Not me: See what I mean? Now, how about that computer you bought?

Me: It was a refurbished computer I bought it at a discount store because I didn’t have much money to spend.

Not me: How did that work out for you? 

Me: The hard drive just crashed.

Not me: How long after the 90 day waranty expired? 

Me: 5 days.

Not Me: See, what did I tell you?  What  did you do?

Me: I took it back.

Not me: Did they fix it?

Me: Couldn’t.

Not me: What happened?

Me: Was going to install a new hard drive, so I paid $75 for the drive to be installed with Windows 7 like the old one had on it. 

Not me: Did he do it like he said.

Me: No.

Not me: Why not?

Me: Said it kept malfuntioning and that since it died outside the warranty I would need to buy a new computer. However, he “made me a deal” and gave me a “new” refurbished computer for the $75 I already paid.

Not me: You relaize that is an oxymoron.

Me: No reason to be rude about it. I know I messed up.

Not me: No I mean new and refurbished are opposites and dont go together. that is what an oxyoron is.

Me: Well, I was offended.

Not me; As am I.  Did that computer work out as well for you?

Me: No.

Not me: Why not?

Me: Ends up the hard drive is smaller and the operating system is different.

Not me: You know what?

Me: I got screwed?

Not me: Yes you did. But you know what else?

Me: I couldn’t help it?

Not me: Bingo! What else are you gonna do? You are a poor healthcare worker who has no money and just a little sense. You should have gone to the big box stores but you couldn’t afford it. So, do you settle for things that are inferior based on budget?

Me: Yes.

Not me: That, my friend is what has happened over the past 40 years in our country. We have learned to settle for things we can afford rather than save for things of higher quality. We have settled for the immediate fix rather than the quality that comes with waiting. Our expectations are now that we will just replace it when it fails, rather than make something that lasts and expect it to last. When is the last time you saw a real TV repairman? It is cheaper to repace it in today’s throw-away world.

Me: I had a freezer that was over 40 years old and still ran like a champ. I have a car that is 17 years old and despite it’s many quirks, is still chugging along, albeit noisy and sometimes in perpetual 3rd gear. Why can’t we make electronics like that? 

Not me: We already do that. Third gear all the time is not a problem. 90 day warranty, etc.

Me: No. I mean to last a long time. I had the same tv set for years when I was a kid. The repairman came out once every couple of years to change  tubes and dust out the inside of it. Although I don’t want to go dusting out my computer, I would like one that lasts more than short period of time, that requires a full time tech support line, and isn’t obsolete when next Christmas rolls around.

Not me: Well my feeble minded friend, I am afraid that will never happen because after all, the world revolves around Black Friday. Think of all the people who would have nothing to do after Thanksgiving if we took that away. You wouldn’t want to be responsible for that would you?

Me: No I guess not.

Not me: Right. Now give me your wallet. Oh. It IS empty isn’t it? Here you go. .

1 thought on “Why Don’t Things Last Anymore?

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