charleshughsmith.blogspot.com / Charles Hugh Smith / Saturday, January 11, 2014
A fix-it, doing-more-with-less community economy can create decentralized, localized, non-state, non-corporate employment and trade.
My long-time friend G.F.B. recently suggested that the widening income/wealth disparity in the U.S. might drive a broad-based cultural Renaissance of the once prevalent “don’t replace it, fix it” value system and the small-scale economy of repair shops that enabled the repair of household items.
The popularity of the “Maker” shows, culture and magazines certainly supports the contention that at least one segment of the populace has a renewed enthusiasm for crafts and fixing/re-using things. The rising sales at auto parts stores (Autozone, etc.) (and the delivery of parts via the Brown Truck Store, a trend noted by correspondent Mark G.) also support the view that as the real incomes of the “middle class” decline, more households are turning to fixing vehicles on their own rather than replacing them.
The average age of vehicles in the U.S. continues to rise, offering evidence of this trend:Average age of U.S. car, light truck on road hits record 11.4 years.
In other words, the continuing decline in purchasing power will leave an increasing number of households with a choice: either buy low-cost, low-quality replacements of broken items that will need to be replaced themselves in short order, or repair a higher-quality item–the ideal of the Degrowth movement I have been covering for the past year.
Degrowth, Anti-Consumerism and Peak Consumption (May 9, 2013)
Looming U.S. Retail Implosion: DeGrowth 2014 (December 4, 2013)
Two other trends support this return to repair: the availability of a staggering number of spare parts via the Internet, delivered to your door, and the rise of 3-D printers/fabrication devices. As G.F.B. noted in our conversation on this topic, the Web, software and 3-D printers enable do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) to download the software bits that define a specific part to a 3-D printer and then push the button to fabricate the part in metal or plastic.