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Planned Obsolescence and Employees as “Costs”

August 8, 2013

I never knew they had a name for this:
Planned Obsolescence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Obsolescence

“a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time.”

This could be from it breaking down easy (including the infamous trick of things breaking down right after the warranty expires) and also in modern electronics, new versions being released quickly, and the previous ones ceasing to be supported. (Like I notice how when a new mobile network goes up, the previous one becomes incredibly slow).

This is what began I noticing about 35 years ago, when “they don’t make _______ like they used to” became a description of almost everything you put your hand on. Yet prices were going up (as well as executive largesse), capitalism was praised as “God’s system” while another one was “the evil empire”, and blame for economic problems was increasingly being placed on the poor (via liberal policies) in political rhetoric.
Today, people still ignore practices like this as being part of the reason a middle class person’s pocketbook may be empty. It’s all taxes!

But I wasn’t being paranoid all those years I grumbled that the increasing “cheap” quality of products was probably intentional.

Also in economics, here is an excellent article:
http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-need-to-pay-people-more-2013-8

After all, these folks say, one law of capitalism is that employers pay their employees as little as possible. Employees are just “costs.” You should try to minimize those “costs” whenever and wherever you can.

This view, unfortunately, is not just selfish and demeaning. It’s also economically stupid. Those “costs” you are minimizing (employees) are also current and prospective customers for your company and other companies. And the less money they have, the fewer products and services they are going to buy.

It is not a law that they pay their employees as little as possible.

It is a choice.

These senior managers and owners, after all, are earning record profits while choosing to pay their employees so little in many cases that the employees have to live in poverty.

And the senior managers and owners add insult to injury by blaming the employees for this: “If they want to get paid more, they should start their own company. Or get a better job.”

It is no mystery why America’s senior managers and owners describe the decision to pay employees as little as possible as a “law of capitalism”: Because doing this masks the fact that they are making a choice.

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