VTDigger’s Sarah Mearhoff authored an article Thursday that prompted flashbacks in this tired old brain. The story was copiously entitled “As the ‘right to repair’ debate comes to Montpelier, lawmakers face a ‘flood’ of opposition from national interest groups.”
Yep, a look back in the Google Machine reveals that I wrote the same damn story back in 2018.
“Right to repair” is a concept that ought to be enshrined in our law, except that it causes conniptions in Our Corporate Overlords. They’ve created perpetual revenue streams for consumer products by making it difficult to downright impossible for an owner to repair stuff outside of the corporation’s closed circle of bespoke parts, tools, software, and authorized repair shops.
This is fine in some ways, bu in excess it costs consumers bucketloads of extra money. You can’t, for instance, take your iPhone to an unauthorized shop to get a cracked screen replaced or a new battery installed. You’ve got to go to an official Apple shop and pay full Apple prices. And a repair shop has to pay through the nose for the privilege to be an official Apple joint. (Small Dog is no longer authorized to do Apple repairs because they didn’t want to pay the requisite freight.)
At issue in 2018 was a bill to establish a right to repair for all consumer items. It ended up as yet another study bill after hungry packs of top-dollar lobbyists descended on the Statehouse. This year, the bill in question would create a right to repair only for farm equipment. And once again, the custom-tailored lobbyists have swarmed the Statehouse. It’s the same playbook, and I fear it will once again end with the bloody carcass of pro-consumer legislation being ripped to shreds in their oh-so-sharp teeth.Continue reading