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Is Planned Obsolescence...

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Whether through earning money or taking loans most people are busy planning how to spend it on buying stuff.

Therefore, most people are too distracted to worry about things like house prices, economy and the national debt. They are too busy buying stuiff or replacing stuff they just bought.

Every weekend hordes spend their precious lives on looking for new stuff. Why new stuff? What's wrong with stuff they already have?

Every 5-10 years we buy new computers/TVs/kitchen appliances/cars and what not. In most cases perfectly well working things are replaced even more often, because are perceived as obsolete.

Is this stuff old or seriously broken? Why is it obsolete?

Suprprise, surprise its obsolescence is fully built-in, it's all planned...! :o

I've kind of always known about it, but it's quite depressing when you realise the scale of it and what impact it has on the society... :(

Here's a little extract from the long Wikipedia article:

Origins of planned obsolescence go back at least as far as 1932 with Bernard London's pamphlet Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence. However, the phrase was first popularized in 1954 by Brooks Stevens, an American industrial designer. Stevens was due to give a talk at an advertising conference in Minneapolis in 1954. Without giving it much thought, he used the term as the title of his talk.

From that point on, "planned obsolescence" became Stevens' catchphrase. By his definition, planned obsolescence was "Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary."

Planned obsolescence is made more likely by making the cost of repairs comparable to the replacement cost, or by refusing to provide service or parts any longer. A product might even never have been serviceable. Creating new lines of products that do not interoperate with older products can also make an older model quickly obsolete, forcing replacement.

Many portable consumer electronics contain proprietary, often lithium-based batteries. These batteries last only about 500 cycles before losing large amounts of their capacity. Rechargeable lithium batteries always contain integrated circuits (IC). A manufacturer can set the algorithms of the IC to be ultra conservative or time/cycle based, rather than based around the physical properties of the battery cells; this artificially limits the life of the battery. While battery packs can be rebuilt and fitted with new cells this is either too costly or too time consuming for most consumers.

By continually introducing new designs, and retargeting or discontinuing others, a manufacturer can "ride the fashion cycle". Such product categories include automobiles (style obsolescence), with a strict yearly schedule of new models; the almost entirely style-driven clothing industry (riding the fashion cycle); and the mobile phone industries with constant minor feature 'enhancements' and restyling.

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Whether through earning money or taking loans most people are busy planning how to spend it on buying stuff.

Therefore, most people are too distracted to worry about things like house prices, economy and the national debt. They are too busy buying stuiff or replacing stuff they just bought.

Every weekend hordes spend their precious lives on looking for new stuff. Why new stuff? What's wrong with stuff they already have?

Every 5-10 years we buy new computers/TVs/kitchen appliances/cars and what not. In most cases perfectly well working things are replaced even more often, because are perceived as obsolete.

Is this stuff old or seriously broken? Why is it obsolete?

Suprprise, surprise its obsolescence is fully built-in, it's all planned...! :o

I've kind of always known about it, but it's quite depressing when you realise the scale of it and what impact it has on the society... :(

Here's a little extract from the long Wikipedia article:

Origins of planned obsolescence go back at least as far as 1932 with Bernard London's pamphlet Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence. However, the phrase was first popularized in 1954 by Brooks Stevens, an American industrial designer. Stevens was due to give a talk at an advertising conference in Minneapolis in 1954. Without giving it much thought, he used the term as the title of his talk.

From that point on, "planned obsolescence" became Stevens' catchphrase. By his definition, planned obsolescence was "Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary."

Planned obsolescence is made more likely by making the cost of repairs comparable to the replacement cost, or by refusing to provide service or parts any longer. A product might even never have been serviceable. Creating new lines of products that do not interoperate with older products can also make an older model quickly obsolete, forcing replacement.

Many portable consumer electronics contain proprietary, often lithium-based batteries. These batteries last only about 500 cycles before losing large amounts of their capacity. Rechargeable lithium batteries always contain integrated circuits (IC). A manufacturer can set the algorithms of the IC to be ultra conservative or time/cycle based, rather than based around the physical properties of the battery cells; this artificially limits the life of the battery. While battery packs can be rebuilt and fitted with new cells this is either too costly or too time consuming for most consumers.

By continually introducing new designs, and retargeting or discontinuing others, a manufacturer can "ride the fashion cycle". Such product categories include automobiles (style obsolescence), with a strict yearly schedule of new models; the almost entirely style-driven clothing industry (riding the fashion cycle); and the mobile phone industries with constant minor feature 'enhancements' and restyling.

It's an inevitable conclusion, along with predatory advertising and so on, of profit at all costs, when we say that certain parts of society (business) can and indeed should operate without morals, because profit is more important than morals.

The sociopaths are allowed free reign because we have been convinced that it is better for all of us......convinced by the sociopaths. Is it any wonder than normal people feel isolated from this society, that they every day choose to ignore such waste and destruction? The alternative is the mass destruction of mental health. To go with the flow is the only way to stay sane.

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On another tack, planned obsolescence devalues craft, engineering, design and undermines the meaning of quality. Manufacturers of quality products that demand innovation, employ highly skilled workers throughout the workforce and have passion and integrity in design - creating satisfying, worthwhile jobs - are sidelined.

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Here's the original text (pdf - wikimedia.org):

Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence (Bernard London, 1932)

extracts:

In our present haphazard organization, the product of the worker’s toil continues to benefit and produce income for its owner long after the one whose sweat created it has spent and exhausted the meager compensation he received for his labor.

This very lasting quality of the product of the worker’s toil results to his disadvantage.

Furniture and clothing and other commodities should have a span of life, just as humans have. When used for their allotted time, they should be retired, and replaced by fresh merchandise.

If a machine has been functioning steadily for five years or so, it can fairly be considered dead – dead to the one who paid his money for it – because he has had all the use of it during those five years and it will have paid for its life by its earnings in the five-year period.

(...)During this period some manufactured commodities would have been destroyed and replaced 15 times, others 10 times, still others 5 times, etc., depending on the span of life allotted to each, in order for it to earn sufficient for its purpose before it dies.

(...)If we add the elements of life and time to our measurement of what we produce, and say that the life of this automobile shall be not more than 5 years, or the life of this building shall last not more than 25 years, then, with the addition of our customary measurement of these commodities, we will have a really complete description of them right from the beginning.

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Another thing - when exactly did we stop being 'Customers' and become 'Consuming units'?.

I'm not sure, but being referred to as a 'consumer' really bugs me. It gives the impression that we are thought of as things that should just buy up crap, to be good little consumers. I really get wound up by the whole expression.

I console myself with the fact that I am a very bad consumer, things are not replaced until they break, and can no longer be economically repaired :)

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Here's the original text (pdf - wikimedia.org):

Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence (Bernard London, 1932)

extracts:

In our present haphazard organization, the product of the worker’s toil continues to benefit and produce income for its owner long after the one whose sweat created it has spent and exhausted the meager compensation he received for his labor.

This very lasting quality of the product of the worker’s toil results to his disadvantage.

Furniture and clothing and other commodities should have a span of life, just as humans have. When used for their allotted time, they should be retired, and replaced by fresh merchandise.

If a machine has been functioning steadily for five years or so, it can fairly be considered dead – dead to the one who paid his money for it – because he has had all the use of it during those five years and it will have paid for its life by its earnings in the five-year period.

(...)During this period some manufactured commodities would have been destroyed and replaced 15 times, others 10 times, still others 5 times, etc., depending on the span of life allotted to each, in order for it to earn sufficient for its purpose before it dies.

(...)If we add the elements of life and time to our measurement of what we produce, and say that the life of this automobile shall be not more than 5 years, or the life of this building shall last not more than 25 years, then, with the addition of our customary measurement of these commodities, we will have a really complete description of them right from the beginning.

Thanks for posting that, very interesting and also depressing, in my opinion. Someone less cynical than I might allow that it was written in a time when resources seemed infinite, but I see it as more of the same economic rhetoric that tries to justify and keep in place a flawed system.

It gets back to the idea that there aren't enough jobs to go round. Maybe i'm wrong and the intentions of London are genuinely good, but the solution is always to be framed in terms that will allow production and profit to keep going, that all work is good and idleness is always wrong, all of which is nonsense.

Edited by shipbuilder

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Guest The Relaxation Suite

Is this stuff old or seriously broken? Why is it obsolete?

Suprprise, surprise its obsolescence is fully built-in, it's all planned...! :o

I've kind of always known about it, but it's quite depressing when you realise the scale of it and what impact it has on the society... :(

The theory of planned obsolescence is an interesting one but I think it's pretty much just a theory. It has developed as one way to try and understand and explain the massive technological advances we are making (1950+). Never before have we had this speed of invention and improvement so of course we are just learning how to deal with it. One of the ways is to speculate that dark forces are deliberately doing it to destroy us/make us unhappy/makes more compliant/turn us into slaves etc.

In reality we just cannot keep up with the speed of invention now, especially in terms of computing. Computers are genuinely obsolete every couple of years. As far as cars are concerned - they can last for 75 years +. You only have to look at car shows to see this. Keeping a car on the road for 20 years or more is no great problem even in terms of parts if it's a common model. The fact is most people just cannot be bothered to maintain their vehicles.

Edited by Tecumseh

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One thing that's always bothered me about the theory of evolution- it's logic implies that each ecological neiche should be occupied by one super effeciant incumbant- so there ought to be just one land predator, one sea predator, one super killer insect ect- and the same with prey species- one super abundant herbivore ect. And also with plants- why so many different types of grass?

So, according to evolution, we ought to have had a fairly monolithic and short list of species on the planet- but look at what we ended up with, a truly exuberant abundance of variety- an almost perversely playful tendency toward speciation that does not really sit too well with the view of nature as a 'mend and make do' process.

So maybe the rediculous diversity and redundancy of our culture is just an expression of that drive- instead of one super efficient motor vehicle, we produce hundreds of different varieties at great cost- why? We could all wear the same clothes, far more effieient to create a single unisex style and colour- yet we insist on an incredible array of ever changing styles and configurations.

Maybe this insatiable humger for variety is evolution- and we are just following our genetic programming when we flood the planet with an endless variety of colourful tat. :lol: We just can't help ourselves.

Edited by wonderpup

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The theory of planned obsolescence is an interesting one but I think it's pretty much just a theory. It has developed as one way to try and understand and explain the massive technological advances we are making (1950+). Never before have we had this speed of invention and improvement so of course we are just learning how to deal with it. One of the ways is to speculate that dark forces are deliberately doing it to destroy us/make us unhappy/makes more compliant/turn us into slaves etc.

In reality we just cannot keep up with the speed of invention now, especially in terms of computing. Computers are genuinely obsolete every couple of years. As far as cars are concerned - they can last for 75 years +. You only have to look at car shows to see this. Keeping a car on the road for 20 years or more is no great problem even in terms of parts if it's a common model. The fact is most people just cannot be bothered to maintain their vehicles.

...the experts of planned obsolescence are Apple ...with Ipods , Phones etc...their latest model becomes an hysterical queuing event for the sheeple who follow the dream of being first to have the latest gizmo.....yes...Apple have their marketing targetted at the weak minded..... :rolleyes:

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...the experts of planned obsolescence are Apple ...with Ipods , Phones etc...their latest model becomes an hysterical queuing event for the sheeple who follow the dream of being first to have the latest gizmo.....yes...Apple have their marketing targetted at the weak minded..... :rolleyes:

I'm not saying companies and governments don't manipulate populations because I know they do. I'm just making the point that technology is genuinely advancing quicker than we can consume it. If you want the lates thing then you can choose to buy it in the full knowledge that it will be obsolete in a year or two.

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I agree with your statement in part but I can also see that "planned obsolescence" is contributed to by the average persons lack of practical understanding.

In my fathers time, an item when broken could easily be fixed by the average person. As technology has advanced, the abilities of the average person to understand - let alone repair an item have not kept up, in fact for the average person they have decreased.

Practical skills such as DIY, mechanics and electronics are not very well respected and they are certainly not taught in state education.

I have spent this evening repairing a cheapish 4 year old LCD monitor, its fault most definitely wasn’t engineered into the device by design. The monitor could be bought for £35 and by the time I finish it will take me ~5 hours to fix, a net price of £7 per hour for my time.

If a person in the UK had sufficient education to repair the above, would they do it for £7 per hour?

There’s your obsolescence.

Regards

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The theory of planned obsolescence is an interesting one but I think it's pretty much just a theory. It has developed as one way to try and understand and explain the massive technological advances we are making (1950+). Never before have we had this speed of invention and improvement so of course we are just learning how to deal with it. One of the ways is to speculate that dark forces are deliberately doing it to destroy us/make us unhappy/makes more compliant/turn us into slaves etc.

In reality we just cannot keep up with the speed of invention now, especially in terms of computing. Computers are genuinely obsolete every couple of years. As far as cars are concerned - they can last for 75 years +. You only have to look at car shows to see this. Keeping a car on the road for 20 years or more is no great problem even in terms of parts if it's a common model. The fact is most people just cannot be bothered to maintain their vehicles.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with engineering and design, but I think most engineers and designers will confirm that it is very much in practice.

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I agree with your statement in part but I can also see that "planned obsolescence" is contributed to by the average persons lack of practical understanding.

In my fathers time, an item when broken could easily be fixed by the average person. As technology has advanced, the abilities of the average person to understand - let alone repair an item have not kept up, in fact for the average person they have decreased.

Practical skills such as DIY, mechanics and electronics are not very well respected and they are certainly not taught in state education.

I have spent this evening repairing a cheapish 4 year old LCD monitor, its fault most definitely wasn’t engineered into the device by design. The monitor could be bought for £35 and by the time I finish it will take me ~5 hours to fix, a net price of £7 per hour for my time.

If a person in the UK had sufficient education to repair the above, would they do it for £7 per hour?

There’s your obsolescence.

Regards

It's a nice post, but I'm not sure it proves deliberate obsolescence, rather than it proves simple market economics. Would a person with sufficient education to fix it who lived in the country where it was manufactuered do so? I suspect so, because the cost of purchase in that place would make it more viable to fix it relative to his wage.

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yes it's all true. New cars are designed to breakdown after 4-5 years of leaving production line. It's called optimum planning by some manufacturers and you won't find a book about it ;). Mostely small and medium size parts will fail (alternator, fan in torbocharger etc) which can be quite expensive to replace . Less likely the whole subsystems would go to hell, as they are cover by manufacturer warranty of 100K on avarage (this include camshaft+cambelt, etc). In many cases fault is built into the part during production process. At mechanical level it could be welding at too high temperature. Another way is to load the ECU with a dodgy software which will lead to overexploitation of desirable component. The later is mostely practiced in automotive industry. It's quite tricky and difficult process and if not well managed can lead to very nasty surprises (see: this year Toyota problem with electronic breaks) :D. Oh, and pay for the job is not bad too. :ph34r:...but you don't know about this from me :P

Edited by LittleSteroid

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I agree with your statement in part but I can also see that "planned obsolescence" is contributed to by the average persons lack of practical understanding.

In my fathers time, an item when broken could easily be fixed by the average person. As technology has advanced, the abilities of the average person to understand - let alone repair an item have not kept up, in fact for the average person they have decreased.

Practical skills such as DIY, mechanics and electronics are not very well respected and they are certainly not taught in state education.

I have spent this evening repairing a cheapish 4 year old LCD monitor, its fault most definitely wasn't engineered into the device by design. The monitor could be bought for £35 and by the time I finish it will take me ~5 hours to fix, a net price of £7 per hour for my time.

If a person in the UK had sufficient education to repair the above, would they do it for £7 per hour?

There's your obsolescence.

Regards

let me guess. Was it inverter? Backlight? B)

Edited by LittleSteroid

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An quality product reflects a craft, a skill learned, soul, creativity and passion - everything that work needs but is so depressingly absent these days, with all sorts of consequences. People don't just need work, they need satisfying work and constant deskilling, dumbing down, planned obsolescence, unnecessary automation and the disposable culture are all removing this skilled and satisfying aspect to work, which corrodes our souls.

What we need as a society is the mundane to be automated, while skilled labour is retained and balanced with free time to enjoy being human. We are getting everything wrong. This is all stuff E.F. Schumacher said decades ago now, if only we'd listened.

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yes it's all true. New cars are designed to breakdown after 4-5 years of leaving production line. It's called optimum planning by some manufacturers and you won't find a book about it ;). Mostely small and medium size parts will fail (alternator, fan in torbocharger etc) which can be quite expensive to replace . Less likely the whole subsystems would go to hell, as they are cover by manufacturer warranty of 100K on avarage (this include camshaft+cambelt, etc). In many cases fault is built into the part during production process. At mechanical level it could be welding at too high temperature. Another way is to load the ECU with a dodgy software which will lead to overexploitation of desirable component. The later is mostely practiced in automotive industry. It's qite tricky and difficult process and if not well managed can lead to very nasty surprises (see: this year Toyota problem with electronic breaks) :D. Oh, and pay for the job is not bad too. :ph34r:...but you don't know about this from me :P

Alternators and turbos are complicated pieces of engineering and under a lot of strain. Why people expect these things to last for ever is beyond. Mechanical items like this have to be replaced because of expected wear and tear over a number years. There is no way an alternator can be timed to go wrong in five years because the Dark Forces that would do this have no way of knowing how much use the car will get. The fact is everything breaks down eventually, especially complicated mechanical parts in high-stress environments.

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I'm not saying companies and governments don't manipulate populations because I know they do. I'm just making the point that technology is genuinely advancing quicker than we can consume it. If you want the lates thing then you can choose to buy it in the full knowledge that it will be obsolete in a year or two.

Yeh but the software running the damn things like phones doesn't work properly thru reduced R&D

(schedules shortened & pushed thru by greedy money men not proper 'business' men)

Loads are loosing their reputation.

Same with the swapping to Chinese lax production (not that I blame the poor slaves who make the stuff)

Microsoft's complete failure with overpriced junk, 'Vista' Worldwide non-sales should be a text book example of this type of executive greed & failure trying to con the population with unfinished crap!

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yes it's all true. New cars are designed to breakdown after 4-5 years of leaving production line. It's called optimum planning by some manufacturers and you won't find a book about it ;). Mostely small and medium size parts will fail (alternator, fan in torbocharger etc) which can be quite expensive to replace . Less likely the whole subsystems would go to hell, as they are cover by manufacturer warranty of 100K on avarage (this include camshaft+cambelt, etc). In many cases fault is built into the part during production process. At mechanical level it could be welding at too high temperature. Another way is to load the ECU with a dodgy software which will lead to overexploitation of desirable component. The later is mostely practiced in automotive industry. It's quite tricky and difficult process and if not well managed can lead to very nasty surprises (see: this year Toyota problem with electronic breaks) :D. Oh, and pay for the job is not bad too. :ph34r:...but you don't know about this from me :P

'kin hell, I didn't know it was quite that planned.....very interesting, cheers. This is a great thread.

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It's a nice post, but I'm not sure it proves deliberate obsolescence, rather than it proves simple market economics. Would a person with sufficient education to fix it who lived in the country where it was manufactuered do so? I suspect so, because the cost of purchase in that place would make it more viable to fix it relative to his wage.

But that's the point, we as a nation are too expensive - we think our time is worth vastly more in relation to the goods we buy. That's why we don't teach these basic skills anymore - they are skills for people in far away lands where labour is cheap.

If our goods we more expensive in relation to our time, things wouldn't become obsolete.

If a 10 year old car, £5000 when new sucked water into the air intake destroying the engine, it would be a right off because it would not be economical in time to repair it compared to its resale value. If a 10 year old £150,000 Ferrari did the same it would almost certainly be repaired because the time to repair it would be less than its resale value. If all cars cost £150,000 everything would be repaired but they're not so we throw them away.

We're just too expensive compared to what we buy.

Regards

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I agree with your statement in part but I can also see that "planned obsolescence" is contributed to by the average persons lack of practical understanding.

In my fathers time, an item when broken could easily be fixed by the average person. As technology has advanced, the abilities of the average person to understand - let alone repair an item have not kept up, in fact for the average person they have decreased.

Practical skills such as DIY, mechanics and electronics are not very well respected and they are certainly not taught in state education.

I have spent this evening repairing a cheapish 4 year old LCD monitor, its fault most definitely wasn’t engineered into the device by design. The monitor could be bought for £35 and by the time I finish it will take me ~5 hours to fix, a net price of £7 per hour for my time.

If a person in the UK had sufficient education to repair the above, would they do it for £7 per hour?

There’s your obsolescence.

Regards

Usual fault on those things is dried up capacitors on the seconday side, on the rail that feeds the feedback optocoupler. A little more spacing out of components and ventilation would double the lifetime.

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But that's the point, we as a nation are too expensive - we think our time is worth vastly more in relation to the goods we buy. That's why we don't teach these basic skills anymore - they are skills for people in far away lands where labour is cheap.

If our goods we more expensive in relation to our time, things wouldn't become obsolete.

If a 10 year old car, £5000 when new sucked water into the air intake destroying the engine, it would be a right off because it would not be economical in time to repair it compared to its resale value. If a 10 year old £150,000 Ferrari did the same it would almost certainly be repaired because the time to repair it would be less than its resale value. If all cars cost £150,000 everything would be repaired but they're not so we throw them away.

We're just too expensive compared to what we buy.

Regards

I agree, but this doesn't show deliberate planned obsolescence, it shows the inherent fatal flaw in outsourcing that has caused indirectly a kind of obsolescence if you don't want to maintain your vehicle at the weekend. This is a different thing from Dark Forces planning it all. I know it is a tempting conspiracy theory, but when a fan belt snaps in your car, it snaps because it has been used too much, not because seven years ago someone in a factory in Yokohama designed to snap at that exact moment seven years later.

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let me guess. Was it inverter? Backlight? B)

The main control PCB has two regulator ICs, a linear +5v standby, and a dual function high current +5v switchmode which has a +3.3v linear auxilliary built in. The switchmode controller chip (small SO-8 package) died, probably because the +12v from the power brick was a bit rough. The dual function controller chip is hard to get hold of so i've substituted it with a single PWM controller for the +5v, the +3.3v is now from a separate all-in-one linear regulator.

Regards

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On another tack, planned obsolescence devalues craft, engineering, design and undermines the meaning of quality. Manufacturers of quality products that demand innovation, employ highly skilled workers throughout the workforce and have passion and integrity in design - creating satisfying, worthwhile jobs - are sidelined.

...and repeated remanufacturing of objects leads to a waste of resources and human capital that could be used for the long term improvement of people's conditions.

Planned obsolescence is truly sick and one of the many things that is dreadfully wrong with this world.

Personally, I use and wear things until they are no longer functional, but now many things are designed not to last more than a few days past the manufacturer's warranty.

Edited by Tiger Woods?

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  • 285 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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