Planned Obsolescence and Why They Just Don’t Care


March 22, 2013 by Liberty

ImagePlanned obsolescence is a strategy that’s used by engineers to maximize the efficiency and profit of their products. You might notice that some products you buy will break faster than others. There is a major difference in quality between different brands. I particularly recognize it when I compare a cheap appliance you can find at a retail store to the more advanced professional quality appliances. (Ever see a fast food microwave? They look like they could roast a turkey.)

When a company is building something cheap, they need to put less emphasis on quality and more on its fundamental “cheapness”  (Yes, that made up word is essential.) Expensive products are typically (when not trendy or fashionable) of a higher level of quality. They are intended to last longer. This is a balance that engineers are required to find but it goes a little bit deeper than that.

What Is Planned Obsolescence?

Planned obsolescence is the idea that an engineer should plan the point that the product fails to be more economically efficient.

Many people instantly go into overreaction mode at that idea. They say, “They should be trying to build products that last as long as possible. They shouldn’t plan for them to break.” but that idea can only be taken so far for two reasons.

1. It’s impossible to make a product last forever. That makes it a waste of time to worry about it at this point in technology.

2. We couldn’t afford a product that lasts forever. Assuming the cost increases with every year of wear and tear. A car would cost billions of dollars to produce. That would make it inaccessible for the majority of people. That makes the balance of costs essential.

Engineers need to consider the time that they expect their product to fail.

But They Might Use It To Screw The Customers….?

Free market competition makes it against a business’s interest to make a product that fails before their competitors without lowering the price. People won’t continue to buy a product that breaks earlier for the same price as a product that lasts longer. In the long run, and the short run, producing subpar products is a failing proposition for business. (Subpar can also mean too durable and expensive for the market.)

The goal of companies using planned obsolescence is to maximize the efficiency of their products. Planning it in advance means that customers will consistently be getting more of the product quality that they choose to get. (I don’t want a toaster that will last multiple lifetimes.)

The Benefits Of Planned Obsolescence

The first major benefit of planned obsolescence is the increase in the availability of products to those that can’t afford the best. If a company can provide a jet at a price that everyone can afford (while still staying reasonably safe) then people would buy more jets. That leads to happier consumers getting more of the stuff they want. That’s how just about every person in America can afford a toaster. The toasters may not last long but most people aren’t too affected purchasing a $10 toaster every couple years. On top of that, there are still people that buy $100 toasters. It just increases the options for customers.

The second major benefit of planned obsolescence is less wasted efficiency. If a company focused on putting only the best parts into their products then the price would rise immensely but the increase in quality would not increase accordingly. For example, a glasses company could build solid titanium frames that can handle a tank running it over but as long as the glasses can get scratched, they have a limited life. (NO. Don’t take my solid titanium frame idea as if it could actually take a tank running over it. I’m no engineer.)

No matter how perfect you make the individual pieces, one of those pieces will be the weakest link. That means that the extra quality that you paid for is wasted (or partially lost) when you have a weaker part. The goal of an efficient market is to make the frames last the same amount of time as the lenses. The closer they get to that perfection, the more money that the customers will save. (This might not be the best example. Lenses can be replaced in frames. In reality though, many consumers find it easier to get new frames with their new lenses anyway.)

Planned Obsolescence Is Great For Individuals

Every individual can benefit from planned obsolescence. Many people go into retirement with the idea of dying completely broke. That is in their best interest. People want the day they die to be the day they go broke (when they don’t have a family or care about a heritage, that is) because it maximizes the enjoyment they receive while not having any extra potential enjoyment (money) left over.

Individuals also benefit from products that last only about as long as they need them. An example might be a college student that just wants a cheap piece of furniture for their dorm. As long as the product can last four years, most students don’t care whether it lasts longer or not. That makes any years longer that it lasts a waste of their initial investment. I don’t care too much about buying a toaster that I can pass onto my kids. I just want something to make toast with (at this moment preferably.) At best, I’d want a toaster to last as long as I do, anything more is money that I could have spent skydiving or watching cable television.

It’s Not Quite The Same For Groups

Planned obsolescence is not as great a deal on the surface for future generations. It can almost look like planned obsolescence screws the future generations. While the first generation gets cool new toys, the next generation gets the broken down leftovers. That’s only partially true though.

Over time, technologies change and improve. These days, many older buildings have to be torn down to produce new buildings. That means that all the extra time that building stood without the improvements was a drain on society. The new property will be more energy efficient, more relevant to the market, and profitable. I’m not saying that we should plan for the day a building breaks but not going overboard certainly has it’s benefits.

Planned obsolescence is one of the most efficient systems for ensuring we get a product that meets the needs of the market perfectly.

The Government And Planned Obsolescence

The title of this article probably gives you a general idea of where this article is going to be headed. The government has been increasing the rate of debt for 30+ years. The rate of increase is increasing year after year. There is no logical way to believe that the system is sustainable at this rate. Even the politicians say that something needs to be done but nothing will be done, and, I believe, nothing can be done.

Social security and just about every other social improvement program was built to fail. They are ponzi schemes. They are not designed to last forever. They’re designed to give the politicians more votes in the short term and last only as long as they’re needing votes, and/or alive. The politicians have used planned obsolescence with their government plans.

We’re at the point that the parts are breaking and we’re wondering which part we need to repair next. The truth is, we’re going to have to repair every piece of this system. There is no short term fix. All the parts are useless by now.

Sticking The Children With The Debt

My first thought after this realization was that the government was just going to make their children suffer the consequences of their own irresponsibility. Government debt does not go away with the death of individuals. That means that every penny the government spends, that it hasn’t already taken from the people, is taken from their own children. It’s a method of robbing those that don’t have a vote. It’s a system of complete injustice and cruelty but…

When I’ve Missed My Own Point

It’s easy to assume that planned obsolescence in government is an attack on future generations but with a little bit of digging. There may be a way that this planned obsolescence, even if not intended to, will lead to a better situation for the next generation. Perhaps it’s time that the building gets torn down and replaced with something more useful to the modern individuals.

Planned obsolescence in government may be just the thing that people need. Every year, more and more people are appreciating the true message of freedom. Freedom is not permission from an authority figure. It’s not requiring the permission in the first place. It’s living with the only permission needing to come from inside. The more the sick sociopaths in government play their cards, the more people realize government doesn’t have a winning hand.

America was the greatest experiment in government throughout history. They set up a fool proof system for limiting government…

but it failed.

Government grew right back into the monster that it started as.

Perhaps, this is the generation that we realize it.

Perhaps, after the collapse of this monster, instead of trying to Frankenstein it back together… we let it go.

3 thoughts on “Planned Obsolescence and Why They Just Don’t Care

  1. […] Liberty, 2013 “Planned Obsolescence and why they just don’t care” wordpress last accessed 2/06/13<; […]

  2. […] As citizens and consumers, we’re told spending more money to buy new stuff is good. Tossing the old is good. It’s beneficial. Planned obsolescence makes sense. […]

  3. […] Planned Obsolescence And Why They Just Don’t Care […]

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