This week the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial about the right to fix our gadgets. It was surprisingly pro-consumer. The author wrote about a friend whose Samsung TV broke due to $12 worth of capacitors and how he fixed the TV, with no experience, in a couple of hours. I can relate, though I took the easy way out.

He lamented the throwaway of gadgets being unethical on several levels, and I agree. I also remember a time when it wasn’t this way.

I remember when televisions and radios came with manuals, and in the back of the manual, there was a schematic, so that if it ever broke, a repair technician could follow the schematic and fix the device. Dad had a 13-inch TV he kept in the basement, and he kept the booklet under the TV just in case he ever needed to get it fixed.

Somehow, the companies that followed this practice stayed in business for decades, so I don’t know how providing schematics today is a threat to their existence. There was a time when it was expected.

For that matter, Commodore computers came with a schematic. Somehow their authorized dealers who did most repairs survived even though any independent yahoo with a soldering iron and access to components could use those schematics to make repairs.

For that matter, I think there would be an overall benefit to society. Look at the number of independent cell phone repair shops out there. I remember when large cities only had one or two shops like that. Today there are two of them within three miles of my house. What if word got out that other things, like TVs, can also be fixed? That would mean more small businesses and more jobs, and independent jobbers could do weekend repairs for some extra money.