制造业崇拜的愚蠢 Our fetish for making things fails to understand ‘real work’
You can buy a business suit by George at Asda for £29. It will be practical; ready to wear, polyester blended, machine washable. You can pay 10 times as much at Marks and Spencer for Italian tailoring and good quality wool fabric. And you can pay 10 times as much again for a bespoke suit from Savile Row. You need to decide whether you want a stylish suit, or just a suit; a customised suit, or just a good-looking suit. You need not pay much for a suit but you will pay a lot for style, and a lot more for personalisation.
你能在Asda用29英镑买一套西装。它实用、现成、聚酯混纺，可机洗。你可以在玛莎百货(Marks and Spencer)以高出10倍的价格购买一件出自意大利裁缝之手、采用上乘羊毛面料的西装。你还能用比这再高出10倍的价钱，在萨维尔街(Savile Row)定制一套西装。你需要做出决定：你是需要一套时尚的西装，还是只是一套西装；是定制西装，还是仅仅是一套好看的西装。你不需要花很多钱就能买上一套西装，但你得花不少钱买到设计感，花多得多的钱买到个性化。
You – or your government or insurer – will pay a pound or two for a pill and many times that for a specialist drug, such as a modern cancer treatment. Generally, the ingredients will cost a few pence at most. You might pay up to £10m for an aircraft engine, which would fit in a box the size of a small sofa. You are not paying for the materials.
The rear cover of the iPhone tells you it is designed in California and assembled in China. The phone sells, in the absence of carrier subsidy, for about $700. Purchased components – clever pieces of design such as the tiny flash drive and the small but high-performing camera – may account for as much as $200 of this. The largest supplier of parts is Samsung, Apple’s principal rival in the smartphone market. “Assembled in China” costs about $20. The balance represents the return to “designed in California”, which is why Apple is such a profitable company.
Manufacturing fetishism – the idea that manufacturing is the central economic activity and everything else is somehow subordinate – is deeply ingrained in human thinking. The perception that only tangible objects represent real wealth and only physical labour real work was probably formed in the days when economic activity was the constant search for food, fuel and shelter.