Updated: Mar 6
Most electronic items may go extinct because they cost much more than people think. Here are some costs involved in running this blog -
1. Cost of new peripherals
2. Time spent on fixing hardware occasional hardware issues and cleaning the machine.
3. Cost of the internet and of devices like wifi router to access it.
4. Cost of electricity to run the computer.
5. Cost of domain and hosting.
6. Time spent on technical issues. This is the biggest cost. Currently, I am unable to send blog notifications. Youtube’s being full of how-to videos tells us how much time people waste on resolving technical issues. Running a simple blog has taught me how time-consuming technology really is.
The reason we fail to see the real cost of smartphone manufacturing is that we look at costs only quantitatively, not qualitatively. Behind the numbers are millions of people working 40-60 hours a week for little to nothing. They are literally selling their lives away. This is the real cost of cheap production -- wage slavery. I know this has become the norm today in all industries but won't always be. When this economic order ends, we may not only lose smartphones but most electronics that require a lot of knowledge and a big workforce to make.
The day governments go broke, which is coming, public education may end. Mass propaganda in schools and colleges may die along. Then, people may wake up to see that the 9-5 lifestyle is not one of economic independence but of wage slavery. They will know that working 40+ hours a week to be able to barely afford food and housing isn't normal. They will know that they have only life and it is meant to be enjoyed, not to be wasted on making worthless things. They will see more value in farming, which is what people did before public education was used to produce dumb factory workers and corporate slaves. At this point, rulers will likely try to confiscate private property to make it harder for people to own land and produce food. If not, the labor supply will reduce dramatically. Labor costs will increase because not as many people will be open to selling away their lives for a little bit of nothing. Industrialists will have to hike up prices to pay for higher labor costs. We will then see a slimming of products. Manufacturers will focus more on making functional rather than fancy products. Remember older technology?
When the reasons for the technical revolution start to disappear, its consequences will also disappear. Today, we have idiots making furniture using 3d printers. Imagine the real cost of doing it. In order to start a 3d printing revolution, you need mass propaganda to encourage young people to enter the fields needed to operate and maintain 3d printers, just like there was and is propaganda to encourage young people to learn to code. When hordes of people went into CS and IT, electronics became cheaper. Now, coders and developers can be hired at the price of potato. If the propaganda continues, there will come a time when coders will be as impoverished as poets. Compare the efforts needed to become a programmer to that to become a carpenter, yet making furniture in a 3d printer has become comparable to making it manually. Thus, the real cost of technological revolution is a lot more -- a lifestyle of slavery for majority of people on the planet.
Compare physical documents to electronic ones. Electricity is flux. It is not a physical state. To consume any electronic product, you need to continuously consume energy. Every time we read a pdf or look at a picture, we consume electricity. We must keep doing so till the end of our lives. One day our harddisks will die and everything will be lost. Our descendants won’t know much about us, because electrical data is bound to be destroyed, just like a lightning bolt disappears soon. But physical form is relatively more permanent. Printing out a pdf costs only once. The document stays forever until someone destroys it on purpose. Anyone can read it without a computer or even without electricity. We pay only once to read and store physical documents. To read and store electronic documents, we pay forever in electricity and equipment.
Some think that markets develop technologically with time. They are wrong. Markets move in the direction of incentives, not time. Right now, most of the earth’s population are wage slaves, allowing the production of complicated technologies at cheap prices. I bought my wifi router for about $4. Even a pair of trousers cost more than that. Is making trousers more difficult than making a router? In addition to wage slavery, there is another weapon of tyranny that has been unleashed on the world: paper currency. The labor class works for money. The capital class can get it loaned or simply gets it printed. They can print the god that people worship.
When this world order ends, people may again become free agents, who sell their services rather than themselves. Markets will become organic. Prices will readjust to reflect the complexity of products. Thus, electronic items will again become expensive and might go extinct, while things like food, haircuts, and furniture will become cheaper. The repair market will also return. It will no longer be economically reasonable to buy a new device than to get the old one repaired.
For now, it is about to get worse. As more people go to schools and college to work (some call it study) for free and desire a 9-5 lifestyle instead of self-employment, labor costs will be reduced to the bare minimum. And we are talking about owning educated humans for 8 hours 5 days a week, who can’t demand more money, because there are ever more slaves to compete against. In India, I hear stories of farmers who sell their lands to finance their children’s education. The media praises them for their worst mistake. Years later, their children will stay educated uneducated. They won’t find any jobs because they won’t be any jobs. Education will turn them into wage slaves at the mercy of a few capitalists. They won’t even have their lands to come back to.
Ps. I have explored similar themes in Myths Of Industrialization.