*sigh* I knew this would be misinterpreted and it's not surprising by whom it has been. I was careful to point out in my backgrounding that mass production has indeed led to the creation and the sustenance of a middle class while systems that are less reliant upon standardization in mass production and distribution, such as France, are more likely to produce products and services that are both superior and inferior. A trivial example -- the rather upscale hotel we ended up staying at provided a unique breakfast (as part of our costs) that included various cheeses, breads (including olive bread! :D), and figs, as well as cafe creme, cappuccino, and cafe-au-lait. However, they also failed to provide their clients with any beach towels, something that virually all American hotels of the same class would provide, although they were meters off of the Croisette in Cannes!
However, I think it's important to realize that American-like mass production and distribution does provide, what I would call from my Saudi days, "the middle cut," that is products and services that are of a standard, consistent, average quality. This, indeed, has a number of positive benefits, but it also sacrifices the uniqueness and superiority that is provided through regional production and distribution. It is also particularly vulnerable to globalization and capitalistic price pressures that lower, rather than raise the average of quality. It's also an important topic due to the current pressures upon a business model that relies upon efficient, cheap transport of goods across large areas that may force a return to more regional production and distribution.
And, btw, I don't drink wine out of Baccarat goblets, but I do prefer to drink scotch out of Waterford rolly-polly's.
This is an interesting question. Since most of the world's people have had a sustenance lifestyle until about 15 minutes ago, access to mass consumer goods and "average" quality is a huge step up in terms of standard of living.
On the other hand, quite a few people in the United States are developing more rarefied (if not better) tastes and interests and are willing to pay for them. The explosion of spa experiences, the mainstreaming of organic grocers, the proliferation of Farmer's Markets, and the growth of specialty stores catering to upscale tastes in everything from knitting yarns to cheese would be an example of this.
Then too, there is simply the perception angle. What is charmingly rustic to one person to one person is simply neglected or run down to another. The local dish that is lauded as an example of an outstanding culinary heritage by one eater is not very fondly recalled as a famine food by those who had to eat it day in and day out.
In my own life, I pay more or less outrageous amounts of money for yarns that hand spun and hand-dyed made from sheep and goats raised here in the U.S.A. on specialty farms. The quality is very high. On the hand, I'm well aware of the history spinning and knitting in this country and people almost cried with relief when machine spun yarns became widely and cheaply available. For every great spinner there are a hundred talentless or indifferent spinners. As you say: with great quality comes the flip side of inferiority.
Me too, Ginger. This is one of my favorite crack dealers - um, I mean, yarn dealers:
They're in the Hudson River Valley, and spin lovely yarns from their farm-raised Merino sheep. Their motto is, "Where sweaters are born, not just made". :)
Sadly, there are dozens and I could easily spend more on yarn than some people spend on food if I was left to my own devices. :)
Thank you! The silk and merino blend looks wonderful. I love the lace weight for vests; on #2 needles they take awhile, but I have to do something with my hands when I'm watching TV, so it doesn't feel like I'm totally wasting the time. :)
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