New Sucks (A First World Problem)
We remodeled our kitchen four years ago replacing appliances. One particular beastie we got rid of was a massive groaning yellow refrigerator. Two days ago, I noticed the freezer was a bit warmer than it should be. ”Dammit,” sez me, “I must have propped open the door somehow for a longer duration.” I closed the door and made sure it was sealed up. Problem solved? Short story lacking point? Oh no.
It ends up that the fridge continued to get warmer. Yesterday, I threw away thirty or so pounds of shit that would never have been eaten yet was not worth removing from the appliance. Fridge kept getting warmer. Houston… we have a problem.
The GE repair guy was out today. He was certified to fix our brand of appliance. Just wanted to make that clear before we get to the punchline. He was here not too long poking at the thing. Punchline: probably better to just replace it. Cost of parts and labor would approach the cost of new.
My wife asked him “what would be a better brand then? or a better model?” His answer: “They’re all the same. We don’t even make them. They come from one of only two manufacturers. Yours will be from either Korea or Malaysia.” It was Malaysia. GE just puts the stickers on them in the end. Four years for the fridge. 4 YEARS. So we’re off to buy another shitty short-term fridge.
In context, this is yet another piece of trashpliance with a four year life span. We replace our TV’s and our laptops in that cycle or less, no? I don’t, but I’m a cheap bastard. Overall though, this is exactly what we do. We need to get the next new thing. We upgrade. Can you JUST IMAGINE the advances in refrigerator technology — the LEAPS that will be made in the next four years???? Yeah — boggles the mind.
So we want a cheap current thing. How do they get that current cheapness? They end up having all of the different “choices” we as consumers demand, but these choices all come from the same one or two manufacturers overseas. All of them. The illusion of choice is largely stickers, a few different plastic moulds, and paint. Korea or Malaysia. Why not North Dakota? Lots of room there. People would gladly head over. Sure it’s flat and when it snows… its flat and snowy, but people want jobs, right?
Another thought — somewhere along the way, a fridge got lumped into the pile of short-cycled trashpliance along with the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and everything else in your modern fancy kitchen I’d bet. So what? That’s what we want, right? Well, (and again, I’m drowning in first world problem here, I GET that, but go ahead and point it out to me again just for sport if you’d like), all the food went bad in the fridge. It’ll run us another grand or so I’d imagine (we’re going this afternoon to figure out that hit). I can’t just drop the ****ing thing into the trash out back. Yes, you see where I’m going — I’m annoyed because I’m inconvenienced. Boohoo? Indeed.
All of this is what we want through right? We need more corporate profits. We have to get them all running lean and mean (which mostly means offshore, sweatshops, robots (not joking), with a few overpaid white men in their 50s making millions to steer the fine vessel). BUT, it is driving down the price of the appliance (even though you’ll have to buy new ones two or three times per decade versus the old one which would’ve kept your beer cold into eternity… assuming the electricity kept flowing of course). We think only of that sticker price, not looking at the cost over time.
anyhow — none of this is new or exciting. People have said it better/smarter/longer/shorter than me. I’m just killing time while the furnace repair guy finishes up (which is a whole OTHER story).
book req: Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction by Barry C. Lynn