A short NYT magazine article on manufacturing – focusing on paintbrush makers – in the US.

The author essentially points out the obvious – that if people don’t like your product (for whatever reason), then you go out of business – but in the case of manufacturing, that’s always a good thing to point out. Why do people hold manufacturing – as opposed to service or knowledge – in such reverential regard?

The other thing that gets pointed out: there is still lots of manufacturing going on in the US, despite what all the protectionists would have you believe. And another thing that is pointed out: the power of specialization. You see in the article that the paintbrush maker that specializes – making new products constantly – does better than the paintbrush maker that relies purely on having perfected the status quo. Specialization and trade (essentially letting other people make stuff for you so that you can in turn focus on making whatever it is you make) – two of what are perhaps about three of the most important factors in the vast wealth of the modern world (the third being the rule of law).

-JD Cross