Walking around Manhattan, with many people moving out, sidewalks are overflowing with what they don’t value enough to keep. What are they disposing? Sofas, mattresses, shelves, chairs, books, televisions, printers, scanners, lamps, mirrors, plates, toasters, silverware, . . . I could go on.
Notice anything about them? All those things used to be once-in-a-lifetime purchases. Some were high-tech wonders when introduced—now disposable. We don’t value them as much as the effort to maintain them. We turn them into pollution.
Our market system has shifted from creating value to creating craving. People like novelty, I guess, so marketing engineers figure out how to generate craving so they can temporarily satisfy it.
Meanwhile, markets motivate people to figure out how to deliver with lower cost. The result? Everything becomes disposable—food, plates, furniture, silverware (now plasticware), clothing, everything.
With all the electronics I see thrown away, it hit me that as cars become increasingly electric, they will become disposable. We’ll make them with less and less material. Their engines will go the way of motors on electric bikes, scooters, drones, and such.
Sofas used to last a lifetime. Now they last a few years. Some can cost as much as cars, suggesting that some cars will drop in price to where we leave them on the curb to be hauled to the landfill.
Oh no! They exist.
I just searched “cheap Chinese car.” Here’s a screen shot of the first result, which looks to me like it will break soon and end up in a dumpster:
Below is a longer screen shot of a later result showing more cars that look disposable. If you’re tempted to see lower priced cars as enabling more people to enjoy what was once luxury, ask yourself how much they improve one’s life. If Aristotle, Buddha, Jesus, or Laozi were alive today, would they say, “I thought I knew happiness or enlightenment before, but now I realize a cheap car would make me happier or more enlightened.”?
What are we doing?
Want, want want. What happened to our values?
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