New figures show beyond doubt that the traditional economic engine of the first world–industrial manufacturing–is rapidly losing steam in an age that demands ever more esoteric goods. Data released this week demonstrate the extent to which all things artisanally crafted are driving the global economy. For the first time ever, per capita wind-chime sales have overtaken automobile sales in the USA, propelling an otherwise weak retail performance. Even the booming tech sector comes in a meager worldwide fourth, with the vibrant decorated teapot and quote-stone markets edging into the top spots. We talked to Swami Gerald Gibson, an internationally recognized expert in new artisanal economics:
We are exiting the machine age and entering the “new cottage age”, the non-industrial revolution. Today’s consumer places more emphasis on the simpler necessities of life such as electric Zen fountains, carved wooden birds with painted wings, decorative horses, painted fabric elephants, or cushions stamped with batik foxes. If I were a middle-aged professional in Manhattan who has always dreamed of making a living by carving hanging bird baths, designing water features and playing acoustic guitar in a folk collective, I would absolutely quit the job in the City and move upstate to one of the “teapot incubator” towns of the Hudson Valley.
Whole regions are relying on the strength of this new economy; large segments of New Mexico and New York State are entirely dependent on art and trinkets, such that any fall in the price of Tibetan incense can have serious repercussions for the state economy. Nevertheless the hunger of middle-class America for porcelain replicas of garden vegetables, or anthropomorphic salt and pepper shakers is unabated, fueling an uptick in national prosperity at a time when other blue collar sectors are struggling. President Trump is considering a major initiative to build momentum in the sector by giving tax incentives for shops to convert into shoppes and lowering the minimum wage for “fair trade” jobs, allowing US workers to live in poverty while weaving naturally-dyed hemp outerwear.