The “right to repair” could solve the problems
Globalized supply chains create efficiencies but also risks when things go wrong in one link of the chain. Shocks ripple through the economy, which can increase the cost of goods and cause supply shortages. These effects are pronounced during global crises like a war or a pandemic. The past two years have revealed our need for resilience in the face of the worst-case scenario.
One solution is to make sure people can fix the things they own. With a shortage of computer chips, individuals benefit from repairing their smartphones and keeping them a little longer. However, devices can be expensive or impossible to repair due to proprietary parts, excessive use of glue, lack of schematics, etc. These are artificial barriers that allow manufacturers to monopolize certain repairs while making certain repairs expensive enough that it makes more sense to buy a new device.
A simple solution would be a “right to repair” law that requires manufacturers to provide necessary parts, tools and documentation at a reasonable cost to device owners and independent repair shops. This bill was recently considered by the Illinois Legislative Assembly.
The right to repair would add to the resilience of individuals who could repair their own things and save money for the community, as independent repair shops are small businesses that add to the local economy and the country, as the consumers can become flexible to shocks in the global economy.