I hope artisan food is a sign of things to come

I don’t know what to think after reading this bit about Mast Brothers Chocolate. It’s artisan chocolate, hand-made, perfectly controlled and sourced and decorated etc. And they’re doing well. As the article argues, this is how large portions of the economy will go: the stuff that can get mass-produced and automated will, while the stuff that people will pay for because it’s handmade will be handmade. McDonald’s will be in a vending machine, and artisan chocolate will stil cost $8 a bar, and both will survive.

It sounds great, really: once McDonald’s automates all its workers away, there’ll be more workers available. Maybe they can work on artisan chocolate. Or maybe artisan furniture, if they prefer, or paintings or whatever. Then all we need people to do is buy artisan _____. This is the sticky part of the argument: how can you expect people to buy artisan _____ when they don’t now? I don’t know, but personal experience in suburban Cleveland shows me that if you open a small business selling high-quality gelato, bread, or olive oil (to name only the businesses within a couple blocks), people who have some money will buy it.

But then, this is based on experiences in suburban Cleveland and doesn’t really give a view across classes. I wonder what our many people working for minimum wage think.

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