August 7, 2019
Today I have seen (again) a mention of a situation in the Western countries like USA or Germany where it’s punishable by law that you do some elementary repairs which could be done by professionals. It literally prevented me from sleeping so I decided that I will write my thoughts and opinions on this topic here.
In short, my opinion on this is that it’s such a total bullshit, it’s criminal.
I’m not generally against the law. If there’s a law according to which I must not repair anything if it can be done by a professional instead, so be it. It’s not worth it to break the law.
However, it does not prevent me to be completely and totally discontent with such a law.
Usually I see two explanations of the validity of such a rule.
Do not cause damages
First, if a person who is not qualified to do repairs breaks anything in the process, it can cause harm to others so let’s prevent it. It’s the only valid reason, in my opinion, but my personal stance on this is that it’s too limiting. I have read about cases where people got fines for replacing the faucet in the bathroom. This operation is so simple that any legal conscious healthy adult is able to do it using the default faucet packaging and two tools from the shop.
If somebody royally screws up something, just push all the fines and repair costs to them, and a big ones. There’s no problem proving that it was them personally who are to blame. It will make people who are clearly unqualified for the task more cautious about whether to do it or not.
But again, this is really a gray zone and I generally agree with the reasoning. If you are not qualified, do not attempt.
However, the second explanation of a restriction on self-repairs is a complete bullshit, and believing in it does real harm, harm to the society in general.
Do not steal jobs
Second explanation is that “if you do repairs yourself you steal jobs from the professionals”.
This is so totally wrong on so many levels it’s hard to come up with where to even begin.
It looks like the people who believe in it base their faith on a notion that the work is mandatory and essential. For some reason those people forget that all the technological, scientific and cultural progress in the whole of human history have a clear goal to stop working.
If some job is able to not exist, it should not exist. Where are scribes? Nowhere; because this job should never exist in the first place, goal is to copy the text, not to scribe.
It’s the same discussion as the one regarding the technological progress somehow “making people lose jobs”. People lose only those jobs which should have never been existing in the first place. If you are content with some idiotic mundane labor which can be automated, and do not want to change it because you are too lazy to switch, that’s your problem, not the problem of the society. In a properly advanced society there’s no useless jobs like cashier or janitor or driver, all of those can and should be automated. Janitor, okay, that’s too advanced to automate, however we thought the same about drivers not long ago, and we have self-driving cars already.
But I digress.
The problem with “if you do professional’s work you steal a job from them” is that it prevents people from learning.
In the society with this idea used as a foundation everybody is not a self-sufficient individual but a specialized piece able to do their jobs only. Any debate on the topic of “individuality” becomes meaningless.
This mindset means that if I’m a software developer I must not care about plumbing or electricity or wall painting. By the way, where should I draw a line? Should I not care about testing, about devops, about business analysis? There are specialists for those areas as well, you know.
Here in Russian literature and culture (what has been left of it anyway) there’s the phraze “why should I learn geography if there are taxi drivers”. And this quote from Fonvizin’s “The Minor”, which is also a quote from Voltair’s “Jeannot et Colin”, is a joke, not a call to action.
If people have no incentive to do something themselves, they will not do that, and more than that, they will not learn about that. If we basically prohibit people from knowing how to do stuff, we raise a generation of dependent degenerates, literally.
This is the same level of crime against humanity as making healthcare and education a commercial organizations.