I just read a really amazing story about a product that stops table saws from cutting off people’s fingers. You might think that manufacturers would race to incorporate this feature into their products. Yet the opposite happened. A coalition of table saw makers have taken multiple steps over years to suppress this technology.
If you wonder, “Why would manufacturers fight against a product that saves customers’ fingers?” you haven’t been paying attention to the power of association lobbying money.
The article describes all the various methods that the big power tool industry uses to block the incorporation of this technology into their product. It really is fascinating the way they turn losing your fingers into a right while transforming the makers of SawStop into some kind of greedy hucksters.
Steve Colbert did an excellent piece on this over a year ago. What I like about this piece is that they point out the way power tool manufacturing industry uses the same right wing tropes about “nanny state” and “freedom” that we see in the weapons industry. But if you look behind the scenes you see the manufacturers don’t really care about users freedom to cut their fingers off, they really care about their bottom line, the possible costs of lawsuits and having to pay royalties to the patent holders at SawStop.
What if one of them owned the patent for this technology and made it available to everyone for free? Would they then widely introduce it? I’ll bet they would, but after they got a bill passed like the gun makers did, one that keeps them free from liabilities from old saws that were made during the DECADE they fought the introduction of the technology.
I’m sure the people who work against safer products can count on both hands the number of reasons that a safer product like SawStop isn’t necessary and shouldn’t be mandated. Of course if they were using SawStop those 10 fingers would still be attached.
Photo by Mr. Greenjeans under Creative Commons license
Cross posted on Spocko’s Brain