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Planned Obsolescence

August 1, 2017
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

It seems as though more and more often, the products we purchase for our everyday use seem to wear out faster, don't work as well as their predecessors and can't be repaired when they break down, with the exception of items like vehicles and other high-dollar items. The term for this is planned obsolescence, which translated into common-folk speak, is "get more money out of us."

But, there is another category of planned obsolescence that is being somewhat overlooked. I came across this article recently in Kiplinger's that highlighted some things we used to see that are gradually disappearing.

Take a look as a few and see if you've noticed.

Keys - Keys, at least in the sense of a piece of brass cut to a specific shape, are going away. In most office settings, employees use a card with a chip embedded to get access. But for getting into your house and your car, the smart phone will kill off your need for a key. Connecting either via Bluetooth or the Internet, your mobile device will be programmed to lock and unlock doors at home, at the office and elsewhere. The secure software can be used on any mobile device. For the car, a variety of "connected car" services such as Audi Connect and GM's OnStar already let you unlock and lock the car remotely and even start it with a phone app - but you still need your keyfob to drive off.

Fast Food Workers - Burger-flippers have targets on their backs as fast-food executives are eager to replace them with machines, particularly as minimum wages in a variety of states are set to rise to $15. Humans won't be totally out of the picture - the machines will require supervision and maintenance, and dissatisfied customers will need appeasing. But jobs will plummet.

The Clutch Pedal - Every year it seems that an additional car model loses the manual transmission option. Even the Ford F-150 pickup truck can't be purchased with a stick anymore. Even the biggest of highway trucks are abandoning the clutch and stick for automatics, for fuel-efficiency gains and to attract drivers who won't need to learn how to grind their way through 18-plus gears. A segment of enthusiast cars, such as the Ford Mustang and Mazda Miata MX-5, will continue to offer the traditional three-pedal arrangement for some years to come.

College Textbooks - By the end of this decade, digital formats for tablets and e-readers will displace physical books for assigned reading on college campuses, The Kiplinger Letter is forecasting. K12 schools won't be far behind, though they'll mostly stick with larger computers as their platform of choice.

Dial-Up Internet - f you want to hear the once-familiar beeps and whirs of a computer going online through a modem, you will soon need to do that either in a museum or in some very, very remote location. Today, more than 70 percent of homes in the country have a broadband internet connection.

The plow - Few things are as symbolic of farming as the moldboard plow, but the truth is, the practice of "turning the soil" is dying off. Modern farmers have little use for it. It provides a deep tillage that turns up too much soil, encouraging erosion because the plow leaves no plant material on the surface to stop wind and rain water from carrying the soil away. It also requires a huge amount of diesel fuel to plow. Most U.S. cropland is now managed as "no-till" or minimum-till, relying on herbicides and implements such as seed drills that work the ground with very little disturbance. Even organic farmers have found ways to minimize tillage, using cover crops rather than herbicides to cut down on weeds.



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