For years we've discussed the need for better and stronger "right to repair" laws in the United States. Were one to look for a pure example of legislative capture by corporate interests, it's hard to think of a better example than the way hardware makers of various stripes have managed to lock their own hardware behind various flavors of DRM and/or warranty restrictions to make it illegal for a person to get the thing they bought repaired. Arguing that such repairs fall within the scope of anti-circumvention laws, these hardware makers, including those of smartphones like Apple, have attempted to construct a world in which people don't just own what they bought, but are rather forced to continue to buy things they don't own when the hardware is damaged or fails them.Despite how ridiculous this all is, few states have even attempted to enact right to repair legislation, in large part due to corporate lobbying efforts. One of the latest to make the attempt was New Hampshire, except that the bill was blocked by representatives who apparently look to the legend of Marie Antoinette as some kind of a guidebook.
The bill would have forced manufacturers such as Apple to share repair manuals and parts with independent repair stores. House members didn’t kill the bill, but sent it back to committee for a year of interim study, citing security concerns and, in the words of Rep. John Potucek (R-Derry) the ubiquity, cheapness, and—in his opinion—disposability of new smart phones.“In the near future, cellphones are throwaways,” Potucek said, according to New Hampshire Business Review. “Everyone will just get a new one.”
Everyone? Nobody would want to repair their cellphone rather than spending the $700 to $1000 on a new one? The phrase "let them eat cake!" is said to be incorrectly attributed to Marie Antoinette, but we can certainly attribute "Cellphones are throwaways!" to Potucek. It's an absurd rebuttal on many levels, not simply that cellphones certainly aren't priced to be thrown away at the first sign of hardware trouble.There is also the simple fact that people having to get a new phone when theirs malfunctions is exactly the problem this legislation is attempting to address. It's the device version of, "Why attempt to give children healthcare? Parents can just make another baby!" It also ignores that a huge reason companies like Apple lobby so heavily against these laws is so it can monopolize the repair market, purposefully making it so expensive that buying new devices is the only real option.The comments also ignore just how many New Hampshire residents are already seeking to repair their devices.
“At our three locations throughout [New Hampshire], we serve tens of thousands of our neighbors and visitors each year,” Chad Johansen, president of NH iPhone Repair, said in an email. “Many of our customers are happy with their devices and would rather spend $100 to fix their current device instead of $1000 for a new one with little to no updates or added features. Now the [manufacturers] such as Apple and Samsung are making it harder for residents of NH to repair the devices they own.”
For purely greedy corporate interests, too. There is not a single thing about blocking this bill that benefits the NH resident. The only beneficiaries here are hardware manufacturers focused on stock prices that move with the waves of phones going out the company doors.The tone-deaf comments aside, it would be nice if Potucek could articulate a single reason in the interest of the New Hampshire citizen for blocking this law. My guess is he cannot possibly do so.
Remember Bob Murray? If you don't, then I highly recommend you go back and watch this 2017 episode of John Oliver's show in which he calls out Bob Murray, as a Trump-supporting coal boss, who pretends to be all about "protecting workers," and who insists that the election of Donald Trump will help save coal miner jobs.Murray then, famously, sued John Oliver and HBO in what was obviously a totally ridiculous SLAPP suit. He even tried to get a gag order on Oliver and HBO, to stop him from even talking about the lawsuit. The lawsuit did not go well for Bob Murray, though Murray took the somewhat amazing step of directly sending the judge a whiny letter about how people are being mean to him. The judge was not happy (parties in a case are certainly not supposed to be reaching out to the judges in their case directly).But at least Murray had the Trump administration and all those coal jobs he was going to bring back to save the coal industry, right? Oh, about that. Murray Energy has just declared bankruptcy and is being handed over to investors who are loaning it money to keep the business going.
Robert E. Murray, the U.S. coal baron who pressed the Trump administration to help save America's struggling miners, placed his company into bankruptcy as demand for the fossil fuel continues to weaken.Murray Energy Holdings Co. filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Columbus, Ohio, to restructure more than $2.7 billion of debt. The miner -- the largest privately owned U.S. coal company -- reached a restructuring support agreement with lenders who hold more than 60% of a $1.7 billion loan, the company said in a statement. The deal provides a new $350 million loan to keep operations going during the reorganization.
Of course, this shows yet another way in which Oliver's story about coal jobs was largely true: in that he noted that the decline in coal jobs in the US was a long, ongoing process, having little to do with any particular presidential administration, but the natural end result of a shift in energy sources, combined with new mining techniques and efficiencies.Perhaps rather than suing his critics (he sued a number of other news organizations as well) and running fundraisers for Trump or appearing on TV as a Trump supporter, Murray should have been focused on actually helping his company and its employees adapt for the future?