Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hard Driven Times

I have been looking for an external hard drive to back up some things on the computer and went to a couple web sites to look at reviews of various models. There are professional reviews by staff members, which usually give the products good references, and then there are the reader's reviews by people who actually went out bought the stuff, and on these I see review after review in which the external hard drives didn't work at all, or worked a little while and then quit. This just wasn't one company's hard drives, either. What's more, many of the readers said the companies are refusing to honor their warranties.

The most recent reviews were posted just in the past few days, and I went back into the reviews to January, February, March. Then, the same models were getting mostly good reviews. This a recent phenomenon. This, I think, is the end game of letting business do whatever it wants, on the theory that the "free market" will sort it all out. As if there was such a thing as the free market in the first place. But if it did exist, the theory goes, it would lead to better consumer choices and lower prices.

Why should it? Why should a capitalist lower prices, or increase wages for that matter, if he doesn't have to? That would be defeating the purpose, which is to maximize profits. People go into business to get rich, not to improve the economy and the general welfare. In the early 20th century, this same "free market" capitalism ideology led to the huge trusts, which were nothing more than agreements between business people so that they could fix prices and not have to compete for labor, meaning we got screwed at both ends. There was nothing then, and there's nothing now to keep big business from getting together and agreeing to manufacture nothing but cheap crap and then telling us to go to hell if we don't like it.

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