In a comment to my post on subscription products, an Anonymous user had this to say:
The marketplace is a feedback mechanism to discover what buyers want. The feedback vendors are getting is that products with remote controls leased on a subscription are acceptable, because buyers keep accepting them. This is not a “market failure”, and we don’t need communism to force other people to give us what we want.
No policeman would stop you if you made and sold an aftermarket engine computer for a tractor. Farmers can buy a $300,000 350 HP 8-wheel-drive tractor, but all farmers nationwide can’t chip in $500 each to hire a techie to car-customize it? Why do you trust farmers to vote?
To tackle the first paragraph: The problem is that this isn’t a free market. In a free market, companies that are poorly run go out of business. This means that businesses in a free market have a disincentive to make poor decisions. In this market, they get a bailout, pay huge bonuses to the executives that made the poor decision, and continue business as usual.
Businesses getting bailed out has become a huge part of what the government does. Just in the last 20 years, the following bailouts have happened:
GM and Fiat Chrysler received multiple bailouts for a total of $85.6 Billion, Amtrak: $1 billion, Adidas $3.3 Billion, US air carriers have received $26.6 Billion, Bear Stearns $25 Billion, Citigroup $45 Billion, Bank of America $45 Billion, AIG received $180 Billion, Fannie Mae $116 Billion, Freddie Mac $71 Billion, the list goes on. Over the past 20 years, bailouts have totaled over $1 trillion.
Addressing your second paragraph: The reason that farmers can’t just modify a truck or tractor to circumvent that software is simple: Federal Law prohibits it. It is a felony under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to modify the software of a product that has some of its capabilities controlled or restricted by software. So those subscription based devices, vehicles, and tools? They have the full protection of the might of the US government.
That isn’t a free market.