In 2007, all was good. Then “it” happened in December of 2007. The "Great Recession" hit home. I was a new homeowner and just a babe in ARMS. That's right two adjustable rate mortgages were getting ready to suck me into a fiscal blackhole. Luckily, I survived and refinanced. At last, I could relax and maybe even save a little nest egg.
But 3 years later, as if by design, my 2007 washer and drier, lawn mower, roto tiller, three printers, a fax machine and copier, all stopped working. Was this some sort of cosmic joke? Was there some secret plan to make sure I wouldn’t get out of debt? And the environmental burden of those “durable goods” being throw in a landfill…it made me sick to my stomach.
One evening, while fumbling through my junk drawer for string, wire, tape and glue to hold these appliances and me together, I felt victimized and mad. That’s when I heard a deep, malevolent voice echo from the past, as is from the bottom of an abandoned used-up well.
“IT’S, it’s, it’s, it’s…. CALLED, called, called…. PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE… scence…scence…” Ahhh!!! The specter of Bernard London, author of, “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”, published in 1932! Truly creepy stuff.
In his own words from 1932, ”My proposal would put the entire country on the road to recovery ... provide a permanent source of income for the Federal Government and would relieve it for all time of the difficulties of balancing its budget. Briefly stated, the essence of my plan for accomplishing these much-to-be-desired-ends is to chart the obsolesce of capital and consumption goods at the time of their production.
I would have the Government assign a lease of life to shoes and homes and machines, to all products of manufacture, mining and agriculture, when they are first created...After the allotted time had expired, these things would be legally “dead” .... and the wheels of industry would be kept going.”
The ravings of a crazy man clearly. Crazy like a fox perhaps because there were certainly plenty of interested takers.
Seriously, I don’t for a second believe that our government wants us to be on a hamster wheel of debt or ever make our shoes legally “dead” but, planned obsolescence is still very much in play and I contend that it has been a basic tenant for stimulating the economy since 1932. Isn’t it time for a new idea? Are you willing to publicly challenge this disposable culture we currently ‘enjoy’ to create a truly more sustainable path forward based on quality, craftsmanship and durability like me?
I invite you to join me in creating a dialogue. Share your ideas here or at www.holdfastcomm.com. I promise, they can’t be any crazier than Mr. London’s.