I went to France. The people there were all well dressed, have a habit of reading books, and a large market for painting. Their voices, in French, were generally pleasant to the ear. The buildings there are all uniform, thanks to Napoleon III and Georges-Eugène Haussmann, which look very picturesque – something as perfect as the description of the landscape in The Wind in the Willows. The metro trains doors close abruptly and without warning, while the walls surrounding the metro passages are old, cracked, bare concrete. The metro is generally a decrepit place, not at all comparable to the Hong Kong metro, which alluded to the values of the French public for, in contrast, siphoning sufficient resources to building stunning architecture, parks, and roads. Choices for stationary is limited, though all are quality products. The milk in France is especially fragrant of cream. People in France smoke a lot, though they tend not to walk and smoke at the same time like people from China. The food can taste complex, but is comparably tasty to Chinese cooking; pork neck is comparably tasty to a well cooked slice of beef for example. Fruit sellers don’t let you touch the fruit. There is a rather large market for DIY projects in the home in France. Pharmacies have their own sign that’s the same for all pharmacies. The roads are frequently cobbled, giving plenty of massage to the feet when walking.
It’s when one culture values something highly and another not so highly that I notice that some things in life don’t matter so much – life goes on just as fulfillingly no matter how nice your shoes/clothes are, when the quality of food is different. People in different countries seem to serve as examples of how one may lead a fulfilling life with or without certain habits/behaviours or objects. People in France tend to smoke a lot, from seeing groups of people smoke together frequently, people in the UK less, but I doubt that either group feels less satisfied with their quality of life. Tobacco and many other things we take for granted tend not to affect our quality of life.
So the common argument that our freedom of choice would be stripped away becomes an invalid point when there are already two examples at opposite spectrums of the spectrum of free choice in consumer products. For example, people with nice shoes vs. people without nice shoes both lead their lifes in a fulfilling manner, which imply a reality that free choice is secondary to infrastructure to support humans leading a dignified life, such as healthcare, life/money/welfare support systems, products that work rather than products that look good.
In this, in the future I will possibly open up the point of what an educated consumer may consider when buying a range of products: shoes, cell phones, skincare products, etc.
So if/when product variations of the same product are cut, i.e. no more designer kettles to instead produce a longer lasting kettle, the perceived loss of freedom of choice in the arena of consumption is only scratching the surface of what’s necessary for a fulfilling life, which I would say is more important than the appearance of my kettles.