Cloudy and cold here in Amsterdam. On a day long journey back to the home of dying (what else do they have to do with their lives) insurance salesmen. Flew out of Nice at 6:05 local time this morning and arriving in the megalopolis mid-afternoon.
Loaded down with Biot glassware, in a discussion with my (European) girlfriend yesterday, we talked about why American products (food, manufactured goods, etc.) are all of a single consistency, typically less than, for example, French goods of a similar nature. This is not actually true, but what is true is that the American genius lies in mass production and distribution of goods, all of a consistent, not unique, quality. This was the great leap forward in the midst of the industrial revolution, no better typified than by Henry Ford.
While this capability inevitably leads to (and supports) the creation of a middle-class to consume those goods, all living at a similar standard of living, it does eliminate (or significantly reduce, at least), the extremes, both superior and inferior. Take a simple thing like tomatoes, for example. Because large-scale mass agriculture has not taken hold in France as it has in the US, tomatoes in France tend not to be as "pretty," but do tend to have significantly more taste. The same could be said regarding a wide range of products when contrasting the two countries.
What's interesting is that the standard set by the US via mass production is now being lowered significantly due to the application of similar techniques by China and India. Therefore, you arrive at a $2500 car (by Tata). Since cost is always a key driver, those types of products tend to survive and thrive in a social Darwinistic way, while cars like, say, a Mercedes or Cadillac, die or adapt downward.
TOTD: (At last) Will the very American concept of mass production and distribution of goods combine with the forces of globalization to drive all mankind to a lower (than our current) standard of living or will the rewards of individual excellence and craftsmanship (the European model, shall we call it) triumph?
Hey! It's early and I'm sitting in an airport!!! :D