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The Tractor Backlash

Summary:
John Deere, like Ford and GM and all the rest, is forced by the government to build tractors as complicated as new cars – and just as impossible for the average owner to service. But people still have the choice not to buy them. Many are beginning to exercise this choice. The Minnesota Star Tribune reports that a growing number of farmers have had it with government-mandated tractors that get uppity when their owner try to fix them rather than pay a Deere dealer to fix them. Or they just brick themselves. Yes, really. John Deere made the astounding claim about two years ago that the people who buy its new tractors are really just licensees. You possess the tractor and are allowed to use it, but Deere owns the software that runs

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John Deere, like Ford and GM and all the rest, is forced by the government to build tractors as complicated as new cars – and just as impossible for the average owner to service.

But people still have the choice not to buy them.

Many are beginning to exercise this choice.

The Minnesota Star Tribune reports that a growing number of farmers have had it with government-mandated tractors that get uppity when their owner try to fix them rather than pay a Deere dealer to fix them. Or they just brick themselves.

Yes, really.

John Deere made the astounding claim about two years ago that the people who buy its new tractors are really just licensees. You possess the tractor and are allowed to use it, but Deere owns the software that runs the tractor  . . . without which it doesn’t run.

Deere controls and can “update” the software at its whim, if you abide by its rules – which include you not attempting to service the thing in other than Deere-approved ways  . . . the only Deere-approved way being via an “authorized” Deere dealer.

Yes, really.

If you try to fix it yourself, the tractor knows – and soon (via Internet connectedness) so does Deere. Which sends the “update” to brick the tractor.

The StarTribune article reports that farmers are giving up on these new, non-serviceable (by them) tractors in favor of the old – which can be serviced by them – almost indefinitely.

Much less expensively – far more easily. Without any “connectedness.”

They are buying vintage tractors – some made more than 40 years ago – which can be fixed in the field with crescent wrenches, sockets and ball peen hammers rather than scan tools and WiFi.

And which only “brick” if you run out of diesel.

That’s the beauty of the pre-computer stuff. It never needs an “update” and you “diagnose” it by checking for spark, ignition and fuel. There are no codes to read. Just the occasional leak to fix or worn component to replace. Which doesn’t require a trip to the dealer because the manufacturer doesn’t claim it owns the codes and hasn’t got a proprietary lock on the tools – and won’t allow you to service the thing yourself, even if you had them.

You own the thing. Or at least, you have full control over the thing (no one really owns anything these days as we’re all forced to pay rent-in-perpetuity – property taxes – on just about everything).

Eric Peters
Eric Peters is a freelance car/bike/political columnist. He escaped the corporate-owned media Big Boys years ago. Without the censorship of the corporate tools

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