One of the most persistent myths about capitalism is that it incentivizes innovation. As if we didn't innovate in the millennia before capitalism became the globalized socioeconomic arrangement for all of humanity...
The opposite is true: capitalism has been a great obstacle for true innovation. The incentives within capitalism assure us that only those innovations that generate profits, or increased profits will see the light of day. In other words, innovation is geared towards increasing and maximizing profits only. If you've ever wondered why both mainstream and online media report on the news in a way that divides people into opposing camps, look no further than the profit motive. Headlines that play on our most primitive emotions, like fear and anger, simply sell better. Especially in online platforms this has resulted in a public square defined by shouting matches between ideological factions. If you wonder why we don't do the things and produce the goods that will combat climate change, look no further than the profit motive. Solutions to our climate problems, as well as other problems, will only be implemented if and when there's a profit to be made.
One of the greatest innovations under the capitalist umbrella is "planned obsolescence." If making more profits is the main objective, it makes no sense whatsoever to make products that last. What you want is customers that keep coming back. In addition to planned obsolescence, there's "perceived obsolescence," where existing products are made out to be out of fashion; producers of mobile phones, with Apple leading the pack, have made this a true art-form. They've infected the minds of their loyal user base to the point where hundreds of thousands of customers will set up camp outside the store to be the first to acquire the new iPhone. The economy that depends on ever increasing consumption has invented many times over ways to make the customer come back for more. More of the same. It's become a throw-away-economy in which nothing lasts, and what you buy today is either broken or out of fashion tomorrow.
It's everywhere. My parents owned a television set that lasted for 12 years, a refrigerator that lasted 18 years and a washing machine that outlasted them all; I don't think I've ever seen them buy a new one. My best friend bought a new washing machine two weeks ago, a "smart" machine that sends him messages when the washing is done, alerts him when something's wrong... But you can bet your ass that when there's something wrong, he won't be able to repair it himself, no matter how trivial the problem is; the smart machine will send an alert to the company's help-center as well, and they'll contact my friend. Modern products have a tendency to keep consumers depended on them, and this will only get worse.
The economy of disposables has come to a point where one can rightly ask the question if "planned obsolescence" now extends to the entire planet... You know, "planet obsolescence." Are our billionaires experimenting with space travel because they know this planet will become uninhabitable because of their unstoppable urge to make ever more profits? Are they buying or building luxury apartments in deep underground bunkers because they know what their economy is leading to? Watch this video: Inside the doomsday bunker for the super rich. I don't know. What I do know is that we'll have to change, and that it'll be too late if we wait for the environment and climate to be completely spoiled by the greed of one percent of the planet's population. Linked below is yet another ploy to keep customers come back, this time by Canon; their printer/fax/scanner all-in-one machines force customers to keep their ink-cartridges filled, or else the scanner and fax won't work. Also it forces them to keep the color-ink-cartridges filled, even if they only want to print gray-scale documents. When will we say "no more"?
Canon DISABLES scanner when ink runs out. Who owns this scanner?
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