Greetings, fellow ruminators, timber-trimmers, and cast-ahrn consumers.
While following some links related to my day job, I came across a very
nice explanation for the poor quality of woodworking tools and supplies.
Despite its name, Moen's Law of Bicycles seems to hit the mark.
In my area, woodshops in schools are used only for adult education; the
kids don't get to touch the stuff. These kids grow up, and either move out
of the area or become engineers, marry someone in marketing, buy a newish,
salmon-colored stucco home, and after a few too many hours watching TLC,
set up a shop in the carhole.
There's nothing wrong with any of that, but it explains the selection of
tools at the big box stores, and increasingly, even at less general-focus
This isn't merely a case of snootiness, as I'm just one of the bozos I
described*, and I clearly don't get everything I could out of my BT3100,
so I don't need a Powermatic 66. Yet.
Anyway, with that buildup, here's the link to Rick Moen's laws (don't miss
Tactical Stupidity and Moen's Law of Inefficient Immolation). Reprinted
without permission, below the link, is the bulk of the Law of Bicycles.
See what you think.
Moen's Law of Bicycles
"Good customers make for good products". This is my explanation for
why an ignorant customer base causes merchandise quality to decline,
on account of unhealthy market dynamics, e.g., in retail computer
hardware and software. In the mid-1970s, bicycles suddenly became very
popular in the USA. The masses suddenly entered the market, few
knowing anything about bicycles. Many could distinguish poorly if at
all between good equipment and bad; good customer service and bad.
Consequently, poorly made bicycles (which cost less to make) undercut
well made ones (and poor customer service out-earned the good
variety), because their superior value ceased to be perceived. Over
time, overall quality of available bicycles declined considerably,
almost entirely because of this dynamic with customers, recovering
only after the fad ended, years later.
Quality thrives only when people can tell the difference. When they
haven't a clue about products and how they work, schlock merchandise
prevails. One can see this process at work in retail computing gear
and software: People who know least about computing always insist most
on achieving bottom dollar. In a way, this is understandable: You want
to exercise control over the process, and, if you're dirt-ignorant
about computing, the only place to exercise control is over price.
Gradually, this effect tends to drive good merchandise out of the
market entirely, leaving a generous selection of cheap crud.
*My house does have exterior stucco, but it's not a salmon hue. Instead,
it's a nasty blue/gray, perhaps left over from the mothball fleet or one
Keeter's router tables. The nasty gray/blue (mostly) covers nasty yellow,
which is probably not the original paint color, either, based on the other
homes in this late '50s subdivision. Oh, and I've only got basic cable, so
no TLC, and unfortunately, also no Woodwright's Shop. The two local PBS
stations seem to be too busy trying to help us throw "Idea Parties." Maybe
some of us need a Clue Party.