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World Building Wednesday: Coin of the Realm-Manufacturing


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Manufacturing, the final leg in the economic triad. If trade created civilizations, it was manufacturing who created the cities, from the ancient city-states to modern metropolises.  Where else could you put tanners, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers? Manufacturing follows the same rule of profit margin as the previous economic activity, yet the key to manufacturing is the need for skilled labor.  The levels of skills as well as the number of workers vary widely. For example, most pre-industrial manufacturing, what is called cottage industry, had a small pool of labor (one master and several apprentices/employees) operating in one locale near or adjacent to their home. This kept cost relatively low but also limited output and therefore profits.

In the post-industrial world (and some pre-industrial industries like pottery making) the skill level varies, with a large low skill work forced (aided by automation/assembly lines) and a handful of higher skill management. If the automation level is high enough, the lower disappears all together  leaving a handful of higher skill workers to oversee the process.

This is an area where government intervention is also key. Depending on the economic model government can have from little to complete control of this sector of the economy. Most models will have government oversight/control of key manufacturing sectors (such as weapon production, road building, etc.) while leaving the rest with lesser degrees of interference.

Finally, manufacturing spurs education. The more advance the manufacturing processes the greater the need for a wider pool of skill labor, thus the need for some form of universal education (although this can exists without this impetus, but usually does not survive the government that sponsors it, like Charlemagne for example or Alfred the Great).


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