"They just don't make em' like they used to!"


 As I get a little older, I feel myself slipping, slowly, into that archetype of a crotchety, grumpy old man.    "Get Off My Lawn!", "When I was a kid...", "These kids these days and their ZZ-Top..."

K, so maybe not that last one.  

The "hardwiring of a person's habits", taught to me by the CFO of Standard Furniture, is one of the reasons I got back into photography.  I wanted to add some creativity to the nerv-y, grey-matter soup that makes up my brain.   

One of those hardwired ideals that has made its way into my thought patterns, is that they really don't make em' like they used to.

I became a homeowner at 18, kinda out of necessity.  The home situation with my parents wasn't quite ideal and
I needed a place to live, so we built a (small) house.    An 18 year old, should.. never.. be trusted to make decisions like that, by the way... But, I digress.   

 5 years into home ownership, the A/C unit started to die.   $1000 in maintenance and two years later, it died entirely.   $4,000 repair, cha-ching.  That (new) coil has been replaced, praise God - under warranty, 6 times now.

 7 years into home ownership, the grinder pump went.    I fixed and replace that myself, by the way. yuck.
At the 9 year mark, the good ol' trusty dishwasher blinks out and the parts are no longer available.  3 months later, the $600 Electrolux we bought to replace it went back in failure, we decided if these things are "disposable", get a cheap one, anyway. 

At the 11 year mark, washer and dryer.  I replaced with used ones.
I'd say we have a year before the Cycle starts over again.  Maybe less!
If I look at the debt that I've accumulated in my life, I would say that a strong 60% of it was in response to unexpected breakages that occurred at bad times.  (The other 40% is failed business attempts, "wouldn't it be cool", and gotta have that;  bad decisions.)

One of the reasons I tend to feel that "The Wal-mart Effect" is a problem for the World economic situation, is illustrated in this allegory.   How many people have debts associated with unexpected, big-item re-purchases of appliances that are shoddily built, yet considered necessary in today's society?    

What about cars?  Isn't this what got GM and Ford in trouble to begin with -- cars that died at 40k miles and the global recognition of Hondas and Toyotas still running the roads with 300k miles on them?
A CTO friend of mine confided in me yesterday that he felt like Apple products were a ripoff because of their high price.   I'm sure you could make the same claim about Nikons, Canons, Sonys...

Sure you pay a little bit of "name brand tax" and in the Apple example you pay for Jobs and Ive's design language but in the end, doesn't something that lasts longer and costs more up front, save you money over the alternative?

Companies building things with a focus on cutting costs means they make crappier gear, pay employees less, innovate less, all putting down pressure to reduce salaries and expendable income.

My personal opinion is that you can have your Wal-mart.   In my commercial utopian ideal, a refrigerator costs $4,000 and lasts your lifetime.  The guy who built it makes six figures, as does the guy who sold it, marketed it, delivered it.   

Yes- yes.. this would never work but a guy can dream, right?

In full disclosure I worked for wal-mart of several years. As an equal opportunity employer, they treated all employees equally, like crap. But, hey the prices are low.. so we keep shopping there, don't we?

I develop brand loyalty to companies that prove to me they can build quality products that last.   Right now, I love my iMac.  My 3 year Samsung notebook and televisions, my Nikon, my Canon AE-1, my foreign car with 120k miles on it that still drives like new, the 1980s Sears ColdSpot Freezer in my utility room -  have all earned my respect as a consumer.   

I really wish that "they" would start making them.. like they used to.