It seems that this whole thread mirrors the sign of the times. Every branch of goods aims at low price and society has come to consume low-price.
Take a look at the meat industry: everybody want to be able to eat meat whenever they feel like it. Remember the Sunday Roast? It was called that because meat was not cheap and you had it once a week, max. The cattle now is hormonized and basically an industrial product. If you want organic you will pay two to three times as much as supermarket prices (do you hear Bruce Gordon here?).
Wheat is not much different. This industry is being subsidized beau coup the biggest result being cheap, cheap, cheap sugar/sweetener. Yep. Fast food restaurants generally do not earn money with the food, but with the drinks. Why? Well, soft drinks are mostly sugar and this is dirt cheap. Why? Well, because there is so much wheat, that is being subsidized, that making sweetener out of it is cheap. The farmers are being subsidized into producing more than anybody needs. Why not just produce a lot less at higher quality but also at a higher price(do you hear Bruce Gordon here?). Then there is the national protectionism; the country subsidizes the own farmes to prevent them from losing out to the global market (which is BS, since production is so subsidized as well, that there wouldn't even be a real competition anyway). Be it cotton (1st world subsidies snuff any 3rd world growers attempts at marketing their wares at a realistic, and for them self-sufficient, rate. Do you hear Bruce Gordon here?), steel, you name it; if it has industrial significance, it's subsidized.
On top of that most capitalistic countries have a very regressive educational system. It is sensible for any industry to keep the consumers stupid, or if you prefer, ignorant. Why? Well, if most of the people knew what crap they eat, they would stop doing it. What would happen then? There would be a lot of beef not sold. What would be wrong with that? Well, you would have to subsidize them more so they don't go bancrupt. Is that right? No. Have them produce less at a better quality and they wouldn't need any subsidies. They wouldn't need 250,000 head of cattle in one barn or millions of chickens couped up (there is a great Bea Arthur film on KFC chickens on peta.org!).
This is where Bruce Gordon comes back in; if people would learn that more is not necessarily better (I don't mean you, Mark ;-), but that quality has a price, then we wouldn't need to listen to Bruce's lament because he would be busy brazing the third sold frame of 2006. The sight of us collectors is slightly blurred to this aspect; we value old objects by their desireability of yesteryears and probably have a very different set of values for everyday item of today. I for one haven't seriously started supporting organic growers/artisans/the like but for a couple of years ago. Why? Well, for starters, money. As a student I might have liked to, but sustenance came first. Now I have a child and by knowing how much crap is in foodstuffs today it is very important for me to not be subjected to them. He will be one day be old enough to subjugate himself to junk food/junk culture himself (as I once did) but will hopefully grow out of it as fast as I did (hopefully).
Bruce, I would surely like to own one of your bikes, just to support you. I like your work and the thought you put into it. Right now, though, I am a different KOF (Keeper of Family) and you will have to wait. I hope that is alright with you.
This post is probably stuffed with loopholes that anybody who cares to play devils advocate will have a field day on. But I believe my gist is clear.
Buy less, but better!
-- Kim Klakow
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