By Dom Serafini
Finally, there’s some semblance of order — at least in the E.U. — for battery chargers. By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets, and cameras will need to be equipped with a universal charger. In addition, the European Parliament has included a proviso in the approved law that the obligation will extend to laptops beginning in 2026.
The most disappointing aspect of this is that out of the 623 voters, 13 MPs voted against the law for this universal charger, while eight abstained.
One wonders: Do these parliamentarians who voted against the law know that there are different chargers and connecting cables for each device, even those of the same brand? In addition to the considerable costs to the consumer, are these MPs who voted against it not bothered that they must travel with a different charger and/or cable for each cell phone, camera (for those few who still use one), and computer they travel with? And that is in the best of cases. When one has two mobile phones (one for business, the other personal), a portable Wi-Fi device, and a tablet, the tangle of cables to carry around becomes unbearable.
And then there are the costs. The cable that adapts the USB socket to, for example, a new model of Samsung cellphone, costs at least $20 in the U.S. because, without the cable adapter, an even more expensive new charger would have to be purchased. Here’s another example: If the electrical socket of the cable that comes with a Mac computer becomes defective, the entire charger would have to be replaced at an exorbitant cost, while replacing the cable itself would only cost pennies.
The problem is that the various governments around the world have so far allowed the high-tech billionaires to create a business model based on obsolescence. Just look at how a 1950s radio receiver still works perfectly today, while a program for a two-year-old computer is not compatible with newer models.
Surely the E.U. parliamentarians who voted against the standardization of battery chargers did so more for ideological than economic reasons. That is, they wanted to be consistent against regulation, often referred to as “state intrusion.” At the same time, however, they confuse regulation with bureaucracy.
Regulations ensure that water is nontoxic, air flights are safe, food is not contaminated, roads are not dangerous, and so on.
Bureaucracy, on the other hand, is when a person who, for example, holds public office, must call the same office on the phone in order to book an appointment with an employee who answers from the same counter. This actually happens in parts of Italy.