Holistic Survival
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Planned Obsolescence the Enemy of Survival

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planned obsolescenceAre you familiar with the phrase “planned obsolescence?” This is when a product begins to mysteriously malfunction all too quickly, a length of time which inevitably seems distressingly short to the consumer. We can see this practice with such items as computers, automobiles, and all sorts of home electronics. Ever had a repairman tell you, “It’s not worth repairing?” If so, you’ve been the victim of planned obsolescence. Manufacturers absolutely design for a diminished product lifespan if they can get away with it. The tricky part is finding the sweet spot where demand remains high but so does the incidence of replacement.

Consumers do have some standards. We won’t continue to buy a piece of crap product if we determine the benefit derived for it isn’t worth the cost. Consider a computer laptop – a highly suspicious contender for planned obsolescence product of the century. Who really understands the darn thing anyway? Technicians and factory reps repeat the mantra that an age of three or four is old in computer years so we buy the lie – except sometimes a long-lived product slips through and defies the shrinking standards of existence. For example, the laptop upon which this blog entry was typed was purchased new in 2005 and, at an age of over five years, is a grandaddy by current standards. It’s been upgraded a time or two but keeps clicking along.

But what does planned obsolescence have to do with survival? It goes deeper than the obvious fact that you have to go without when a piece of equipment you were counting on craps out. Have you stopped to consider that when you constantly pour a stream of money into replacing items that really should last longer, there’s less left to spend on the basics of survival like beans, bullets, and Band-aids?

With planned obsolescence such an obvious fact of worldwide manufacturing today, what can you do to combat it? One idea is to seek higher-priced quality items in the first place. While it’s not true across the board, often a higher price point gets you something that will outlast the average run-of-the-mill-Chinese-sweatshop product. It’s the age old adage that you’ve probably heard a time or two in your life – you get what you pay for. Buy something cheap and you keep paying for it…and keep paying for it.

The Holistic Survival Team


Flickr / Neil T