For the first time ever, labourers were able to purchase cheap goods for themselves. The first factories focused on mass production of cheap goods for the poor. Shoes, for example, were produced for the proletariat — the rich bought made-to-measure shoes. This was different from France, where the government’s mercantilist product standards, designed to uphold quality, ensured that nothing was produced for the poor at all. In France, mercantilism continued to be state policy for much longer than in England. This is the reason why industrialisation took fifty more years to arrive on France’s shores.
J.P. Floru, Heavens on Earth: How To Create Mass Prosperity, quoted by Brian Micklethwait at Samizdata, 2013-03-29.
April 2, 2013
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