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Am I the only believing it should be a free market, where each company follows the strategy it prefers?

Let the market decide if repairability is desired or not. If customers really want it, certainly there will be companies offering it.

Much better to have millions voting with their money and purchases than a few bureaucrats deciding how they believe things should be.

> a few bureaucrats deciding how they believe things should be


> What has been created by this half century of massive corporate propaganda is what's called "anti-politics". So that anything that goes wrong, you blame the government. Well okay, there's plenty to blame the government about, but the government is the one institution that people can change... the one institution that you can affect without institutional change. That's exactly why all the anger and fear has been directed at the government. The government has a defect - it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect - they're pure tyrannies. So therefore you want to keep corporations invisible, and focus all anger on the government. So if you don't like something, you know, your wages are going down, you blame the government. Not blame the guys in the Fortune 500, because you don't read the Fortune 500. You just read what they tell you in the newspapers... so you don't read about the dazzling profits and the stupendous dizz, and the wages going down and so on, all you know is that the bad government is doing something, so let's get mad at the government.

-- Noam Chomsky

> The neoliberal era of the last generation is dedicated, in principle, to destroying the only means we have to defend ourselves from destruction. It's not called that, what it's called is shifting decision-making from public institutions, which at least in principle are under public influence, to private institutions which are immune from public control, in principle. That's called "shifting to the market", it's under the rhetoric of freedom, but it just means servitude. It means servitude to unaccountable private institutions.

-- Noam Chomsky

The (not really) free market already decided that the rich should get richer that survival of the human species doesn't even compute as an agenda item. How inspiring, how wise.

And of course, people organizing themselves via government is just "a few bureacrats", but you asking if you're "the only one" to believe what you believe, or a company "deciding the strategy it prefers", that's different.

These quotes are good food for thought. I've never read anything from Chomsky. Any books in particular that you would recommend?

He's pretty awesome. Here's his website: https://chomsky.info/

I heard about him in college via the "mathematical linguistics" stuff which was a pretty creative idea.

Like anyone else he also has defects, his more recent commentary on American politics is arguably worthless because he completely dismisses everyone to the right of him as "the most dangerous group on the planet."

I understand what you mean but Chomsky is actually very, very accepting of people to the right of him, given how far-left he is.

He's probably the only major earnest anti-capitalist that still supports the right wing of the democratic party.

But yes, if you pin him as a "Democrat" you might get that impression, in reality he's so far left that the Joe Biden administration has classified his beliefs as subversive and dangerous.

To be honest, I haven't read that many of his books (yet), other than smaller ones plus "Manufacturing Consent" and "Hegemony or Survival". These quotes I transcribed from interviews, and his talks and interviews I can absolutely recommend. They vary in (audio) quality because there's a gazillion of them, but seek and you shall find for sure. Here's one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7bjZTmk0uU

If you want a truly free market you need to abolish patents, trademarks, DRM and a lot of other laws as well. How else are other companies free to compete or consumers free to choose? The current market does not exist in a vacuum.

You are describing a "free for all" market, not a "free market". Protection for patents and trademarks is absolutely compatible with a "free market" economy. But that doesn't mean that all patents and trademarks that have been granted are valid.

The patent and trademark system needs work, but the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.

The patent and trademark system needs work, but the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.

There's so many kinds and examples of egregious behaviors by patent holders that you have to wonder if we're just better off with starting from scratch and deal with the tradeoff that may come with it.

Atleast for software. Most software patents I read are silly.

Environmental and consumer rights regulations are also compatible with a free market.

No they are not. Patents are incentives. You can weigh the benefits or lack thereof and chooses to opt-in or opt-out. Regulations are a government-created burden. You can't opt out of a regulation.

> Patents are incentives.

They are also regulations. You can't opt-out of the patent system.

> You can weigh the benefits or lack thereof and chooses to opt-in or opt-out.

What is your proposed mechanism to opt-out? Do you mean that an inventor can choose not to apply for a patent? If so, that's not an opt-out of the patent system. You are still subject to all other valid patents.

> Regulations are a government-created burden.

Including patent regulations. It seems you support the regulations that you consider "good" and call them incentives.

Environmental and consumer rights regulations are both regulations and incentives in exactly the way patents are. They are enforced by the state and incentivise certain behaviours.

> You can't opt out of a regulation.

True. As stated, you can't opt-out of patent regulations either.

If you don't pollute the rivers, then you can avoid the "regulatory burden". If you don't serve food that contains poison, then you can avoid the "regulatory burden". If you don't sell cars whose brakes fail then you can completely avoid this "regulatory burden". If you're not a predatory lender then you can avoid this "regulatory burden".

This is not correct. For example, I designed my circuit so it meets EMC regulations and standards, like I should. I still have to file my paperwork with the FCC which definitely counts as a "regulatory burden".

I was merely responding to the parent comment that strongly implied all regulations were burdens. There are many of them that do make sense! Would you not agree? I mean, without that common ground, it would be hard to have a discussion from two extreme positions (X is all good, X is all bad)

I am not intimately familiar with the example you gave so I shall just take your word for it that it is a flaw in the system.

You can't opt-out of patents. You cannot enter the market with a product that infringes on a patent.

>"The patent and trademark system needs work, but the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater"

This baby is only protecting big corps now. Nothing can be done at the moment without violating some "rounded corners" patent. The only reason individuals can get away with it for a while is that it is not worth for patent holders chasing. As soon as they make some money the vultures come down.

Innovators absolutely do get their stuff patented, but it's no guarantee that they will continue to act as innovators rather than rest on their laurel. The current 3d printing scene was held back by pioneers in the field until patents expire. You could say that today is really the golden age of 3D printing.

1) Electronics manufacturing tends to consolidate which results in no market. We went almost 10 years without a single company producing a phone with a GPU that had open source drivers for example

2) They're only asking that companies not make it legally impossible or use software to prevent people from buying and replacing components. IMO the only reason you would do that is to force people to throw away broken devices.

For a European the above statement sounds so strange, alsmost fictional like. I thought that we have already established that a truly free market does not exist.

I've had similar emotional reactions to hearing about Europeans censoring/surveilling their citizens (openly, unlike in the US where it still happens but it's "secret" and illegal.)

Here here!

It's "hear, hear".

From someone from the UK, it's more like "Errrrerrrrr"


Hare here!

There, there!

The US had a "free market" in the age of the robber barrons[1] and before the creation of the FDA, where companies did what they wanted and "let the market decide".

It was a nightmare.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robber_baron_(industrialist)

Right. These government bodies didn't appear overnight. They were created for a reason.

Sounds like early industrial/Victorian era Britain.

Imagine a place where no lower bound on quality is established on anything.

You'd have to spend all your time advocating, evaluating, fighting for everything important in your life: the quality of your housing, the quality of your children's education, the quality of your car and your consumer goods, and so on.

And imagine how much better each of those things would be if they were held up to additional scrutiny!

But imagine something you presumably don't care about - such as say the feng shui of housing.

Say the government started dictating minimum standards of feng shui, and costs went up because of it, and you couldn't have the house you wanted because it didn't match feng shui standards.

Wouldn't you say 'but I don't want feng shui - I don't care about feng shui'.

So if we go off of Woz's example, you would have preferred it if bell was allowed to say what kind of phone you were allowed to have and that the "few bureaucrats" should not have stepped in to allow other manufacturers to build phones.

People could not have voted with their wallet because there was no alternative. We're approaching the same type of problem with tech giants. People just want to ensure that components can be replaced and that the tech giants aren't going out of their way to prevent that.

Bell got lots of government money to grow.

It's like if Apple grew because of government intervention. Oh wait...

Wow, the voice of reason in the first comment? Am I really on HN? Of course, you are 100% correct. There is nothing stopping one of the big players from offering a more "repairable" product to satisfy all of the supposed demand. Remember, R2R wants to force their ideas upon _everyone_. Doesn't that mean, that there should already be a huge group of people who are willing to buy repairable devices? Instead of making new laws, R2R should be focused on repealing existing bad laws that hinder competition (patent, copyright, regulation, etc).

none of which will help, because the big companies will just buy up all the competition. and not all regulation hinders competition, anti-monopoly regulation protects competition. and so does right to repair btw, because now i can run a repair business that competes with the manufacturer in fixing their devices.

I find it hard to believe that there is such a thing as a long lasting natural monopoly. The only monopolies that seem to last are the ones that are rooted in state coercion. Besides that, when I talk about "getting rid of regulation", I of course mean to get rid of barriers to entry. It may be feasible for large companies to set aside a couple of millions for a dedicated compliance department. Small startups do not have those resources. But even in the current market, as imperfect as it is, there are a countless competing electronics manufacturers. How is it that not a single one of them has started to offer a product line that caters to the "repair" crowd? Maybe that is something that's worth looking into?

well, actually there is at least one: the fairphone. but its product is not competitive enough to be able to attract everyone who is in the repair crowd. that said, it's doing better than the openmoko did, so there is hope. the problem is now that manufacturers need to discover this market and want to compete in it.

There isn't always an alternative though.

People should be able to fix their car, appliances, watches, etc.

It's not just about personal computers.

Companies know they don't have to supply parts, schematics, and can even brick devices if a person tinkers with their product.

They are relying on those customers coming back for repair.

Do you like bringing your new car to the $290/hr. dealership mechanics, because the independant shop can't access to brain of the car?

There is perhaps a bigger picture "tragedy of the commons" scenario where external regulation is needed - absent intervention around repair, companies are likely to keep churning out short lifespan electronics, creating an eWaste problem down the line. That's an externalised cost that the producers of the eWaste are unlikely to bear.

If the supply of rare earth metals and other components needed to produce products is constrained or politically at risk, it makes sense for strategic intervention to try to ensure better longevity of products, to improve resilience. That's a government level risk in some ways, as countries are now highly dependent on technology.

Disruption to chip supply chains is already having an impact. If the financial incentives are to drive selling more chips to replace existing devices whose lifespan could be extended by repair, it's possible we reach a "local optima" free market solution that limits device lifespans, where a global optimum point exists with long lifespan devices that are easily repaired, and gives better "big scale" outcomes, but which might not yield the same cosy 24 month re-purchase cycles for mobile handsets etc.

On the other hand, consumers don't have the option right now to buy a repairable device, so they can't easily vote with their wallets and signal their demand for this. In an era of chip shortages, as a government I would want to ensure I was gearing up policy-wise for a period of reduced availability of supplies, prioritising the key demand that is nationally significant, rather than letting the free market determine they can make more profit from selling another range of new mobile phones at inflated high margins, since the last generation of handsets had an artificially suppressed lifespan.

I think that's a perfectly fair opinion, but the HN-gestalt entity seems to be all for free-market solutions when it comes to things like Uber and DoorDash where they can make a lot of money being a "disruptive" "software engineer" at the expense of other people, while simultaneously bemoaning any application of free market on their social networks and phone operating systems.

Personally, I don't really believe "free markets" are inherently good and would prefer something like a "fair market" that helps ensure competition doesn't get easily shut out by big players and generally limits their ability to make people's lives worse for the sake of profit.

The issue for me with letting the market decide is that for the general population they only discover the reparability of a product after they have purchased it.

The problem is most customers simply don't care. So they "choose" whatever the manufacturers give them.

One by one, remove the replaceable battery, remove the 3.5mm, remove the microSD card slot (and neuter it software side so it's near useless), some will complain, but the majority will just adapt to it, buying new phones more often, wireless earbuds, more expensive phones with more storage. Just as the companies wanted.

Looking back, the majority will see all the things they lost but by then it's too late (or not, change can happen thanks to movements like RTR).

So, the free market works more like tyranny of the majority in practice.

The solution to that is for savvy consumers like us to band together and form a non governmental ratings agency that gives a stamp of approval to products that meet a repair standard. Same as “certified free range” or “certified kosher” food. Or if we insist of policy intervention then we should just force companies to have a label specifying if the product is repairable or not. That on its own should be a sufficient intervention to influence buying behavior but maintains free choice for everyone

Is removing ports really equivalent to tyranny? Is it damning that modern computers don’t have floppy disk drives anymore, or 56k modems, or VGA ports?

At what point in a technology lifecycle does discontinuing support for that technology stop becoming “tyranny”?

if you're replacing VGA with DVI or 56k modems with ethernet that's one thing. If you're removing the headphone jack and replacing with a proprietary wireless audio API that no one else can access so they're stuck with inferior protocols, that's something else.

If it were as simple as that then we wouldn't be having this conversation because enough companies would already offer it. The problem is that it's less hassle and far more profitable for companies not to offer the right to repair.

What's in the best interest for consumers isn't always what's in the best interest for corporations. Hence why governments sometimes need to step in with legislation.

Some billionaire doesn't get to release products that harm the environment just so they can line their pockets. What a company has the "right" to do - is something that we the people decide. We don't want to promote glued together "single-use" products that generate more e-waste and harm the environment. If you take away the politics, the vast majority of people would align with sustainable development goals.

> If customers really want it, certainly there will be companies offering it.

There is customers that really want it and there's companies that offer it.

The big issue is that reparability is an afterthought, you only consider it once you need it and at that point, it's already too late. It's also a rare event, thus again something easy to forget.

That's all forgetting the environment impact of replacing a whole unit instead of defective parts. We sadly are far from being able to make companies responsible for the waste their product cause. This would at least make sure less waste is going out.

The craziest is that many right to repair cause aren't about forcing companies to do anything, many are just to allow people to repair their device. You simply can't repair a John Deere tractor without a license, which is just absurd.

This is another example that, to me, does a disservice to the R2R movement. A tractor doesn't need the technology that John Deere has put into it to limit its functionality. It's a tractor. Tractors have been around for ages and ages and the basic ideas behind how they work hasn't changed. John Deere is artificially limiting the repairability of their tractors. It would be one thing if a "quality of life" component on it went out but the tractor still worked. It's wholly another to say that the whole tractor can't work because a single, optional component is not working. With tech devices, many of the components are either integral to the system or are required in a chain for reasons related to device integrity or security. It's not really the same thing.

The problem is that corporations use mind control (marketing/psychology tricks) to get people to buy their stuff.

The free market is generally great but our biology has an exploit actively being exploited.

Sure there are lots of us that use logic and reason to make purchasing decisions... But there are many people who do not. Dancing cartoons of young skinny people on flashy backgrounds to music DOES get people to spend money.

I’m with you comrade https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27762177

I too got downvoted

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