Author’s note: Today is my 36th birthday! If you’re curious to see what I read and drink (or you’re in the mood to spoil the crankiest author on the Internet) here’s my book wishlist and my scotch wishlist. (Sad fact: Due to supply chain challenges, scotch is expected to triple in price later this year, so now is the time!)
Capitalism is evolving from corporations owning the means of production to also owning the products themselves.
We used to have the option to buy movies — now, in order to legally enjoy a movie forever, you have to pay Netflix a monthly fee for the rest of your life.
Document processors like Word and editing suites like Adobe used to be purchasable — now I will have to pay $4,800 over the next forty years to submit books to my publishers, and my wife will have to sacrifice more than $25,000 to a $313 billion company just so she can keep her job.
It’s all part of corporate America’s rapid shift to subscription serfdom.
And Toyota just dipped their claws in the pond.
The scam of the century
Toyota was founded in 1937.
Today it’s a $295 billion corporation.
They netted over $3.1 billion in the past year.
And they’re desperate to get their hands on that sweet recurring revenue.
They’re not the first automaker to milk their customers:
BMW tried it with Apple CarPlay.
Tesla tried it with Internet Connectivity.
Mercedes tried it with EQS rear-wheel steering.
(Imagine having to pay for steering.)
Now, Toyota wants its customers to pay a monthly fee to start their own cars.
Since at least 2010, Toyotas have had the option to include remote start if you pay for the right key FOB.
Now you have to get their Remote Connect subscription.
But here’s the really twisted thing: The key FOB uses radio waves to connect to the car — it doesn’t require Toyota’s Remote Connect servers at all.
The really scandalous thing? The fee will be charged to all vehicles built after November 12, 2018.
In other words, people are paying for a product that they once got for free, but if they don’t continue to pay for the product they’ve already paid for, they don’t get to use the product they’ve already paid for.
Imagine if you paid $50/year for a Medium subscription, and suddenly Medium emailed you and said, “Hey, we know you already paid to read Jared A. Brock’s articles this year, but if you want to keep reading Jared A. Brock’s articles, you’re going to have to pay another $80/year.”
How is this even legal?
Consumers didn’t ask for this
But corporations don’t care, because they don’t work for consumers.
They’re anti-human eternal entities whose legal reason for existing is to extract wealth from the commons and deliver it to elite shareholders.
Their poverty-making model is simple:
The elite shareholder class impoverished the contributive masses via systemic inflation and purposeful wage stagnation.
Second, they got us hooked on monthly payment plans for the things we wanted and needed but couldn’t afford to buy lump-sum anyway. (When was the last time you paid cash for a car or even a piece of furniture?)
Now, corporate elites are working on a new scheme to steal our time, impoverish our lives, and ram us back into serfdom once and for all:
The end of ownership.
I have argued for some time that streamers like Netflix and Prime are illegal monopolies — by keeping their products exclusively rent-by-the-month and never making them available to purchase anywhere else, they are systemically excluding people from participating in culture. There are tens of millions of people who can’t get approved for credit cards or can’t afford a $100+ annual fee for life just to watch a movie every once in a while.
But the real danger happens once any human necessity is commodified as an investment — it’s eventually sold to the highest bidder, which is always an extractive, tax-evading, anti-human, multinational investment corporation.
A mattress might sell for $600 today, but when it can make an investor $99/month on a 36-month lease, that mattress is suddenly “worth” $3,600.
Now imagine what it’s going to do to house prices.
Don’t forget the game plan for subscription serfdom:
We do all the productive work.
We do all the purchasing that keeps the economy going.
They get all the profits.
They own all the products.
A societal structure in which the vast majority own nothing and have to toil for rich elites just to survive already has a name: It’s called feudalism.
And remember: The end of ownership for the masses is just the beginning of ownership for the elites. They ultimately want to own the same thing that their feudal ancestors owned:
They want to own us.
Calls to action
First: Publicly refuse to do business with any product-selling company that switches to a recurring revenue model and won’t let you purchase their products at a reasonable cost. Refuse to give your hard-earned money to any business that won’t outright sell you the things you want and need.
I hope word spreads and no one on earth buys a Toyota ever again, that the company goes bankrupt and sends a message that terrifies every corporation on earth: Don’t participate in subscription serfdom or we serfs will end your business.
So please join me in boycotting Toyota.
Second: To avoid wasting years of your life paying to rent cheaper-quality versions in the future, acquire buy-it-for-life-quality possessions now.
Third: Get into politics (or bankroll candidates and new parties to do so) and pass a law called the Right to Own Act.
Fourth: Start counter-companies that sell one-time services and fully-owned, buy-it-for-life products.
We need to make some radical changes to the direction of society, my friends.
Otherwise, pretty soon, we won’t be allowed to own cars at all, never mind key FOBs.