I have read that Distributism is anti-mass production. Is this true? If so, what model does Distributism put forward for developing complex machines, medicines, and other products reliably and affordably?
This, too, like the former, is a very good question, precisely because it seems simple but belies a great deal of complexity.
Once again, some Distributists, encountering this question, might simply point out that there are models of mass production organized along Distributist principles, perhaps most notably such as the Mondragon Cooperative in the Basque Region of Spain.
But once again, I tend to feel that such an answer is too facile: at least in my mind, lingering implications of the question remain even after pointing out that Distributism can work with large-scale production.
I think there are philosophical correlations here to what I wrote about in the previous answer. Just as wasteful obsolescence has real-world consequences that market mechanisms alone don't seem fully to account for, so too most markets involving mass production have what are called "externalized costs" that seem bound up with ethical/socio-political questions, and can't be resolved simply by economic analysis.
To speak concretely: mass production often involves, for example, outsourced labor; and this labor often is also more or less exploitative. The complex creation of a smartphone, say, might involve child labor in a war-torn or Socialist hellscape, with ten-year-olds being sent underground for the mining of niobium or tantalum ore. Yet my cell phone contract, with its $35/month device fee - or even a ~$1K direct device buyout - hardly captures the real costs even of just the refinement and shipping of these minerals, let alone the cost of mining them. I don't see these costs because in the manufacturer's ledger, they are externalized—out of sight, out of mind. The true cost is burdened by the exploited market of labor and resource provision involving truly deplorably conditions. Nobody on the selling or buying side of the exchange ever really picks up that bill, according to the current model. To the manufacturer and consumer alike the value is like "found money," while to the laborer in the mine it is a heavily-borne yoke little better than slavery.
Distributists—or, at least, my school of Distributism—reckons with this complexity by urging application of axiom by the great Distributist thinker, Fr. Vincent McNabb, O.P. As one of the cornerstones of his economic theory, McNabb maintained that, ideally, "the sphere of consumption should be coterminous with the sphere of production."
Now, this is a bit of a mouthful, but the central idea is unpacked easily enough. Simply put, McNabb maintained that the extension of markets should be kept as local as possible. But this isn't mere romanticism about localism or buying corn from the roadside stand; McNabb had deep philosophical and economic reasons for urging this principle. He maintained, and I think he was right, that in "tighter" market models, the full spectrum of cost, value, worth, and price are more reified - made more real, practical, and actual. In other words, in such markets costs are less easily externalized or hidden: it is more difficult to put them out of sight, out of mind, and out of our calculations.
To put McNabb's principle into a pragmatic illustration: suppose I built a chair and drove it to a market square in my own truck to sell at my own stand. In haggling for the price I'm willing to take for that chair, I'm going to take care that the price I charge really covers the cost of the wood for that chair, the cost of the gas for my truck, the cost of my rent of the kiosk in the market. Any margin of real profit for me will only really exist after these costs have been accounted for; and if for whatever reason I do decide to lower the price to offload my chair, that loss in profit is felt by me directly. I don't, in such a "tight" market arrangement, have the opportunities that are so often exploited under modern more complex markets: to low-ball the third-party logger or the third-party trucker, or to use their services on credit; or to get into arrears in my rent for the market stand; to take the whole surplus for myself and to bilk others involved in the exchange out of what is justly their own fair share.
But this principle also extends into certain degrees of complexity. Even if I do use outsourcing for the provision of wood or the transportation of my chair, if at least the logger and the trucker are my neighbors, I'm much less likely to try to screw them out of their own profit than I might be if they were faceless merchants in a developing nation halfway across the globe...
So, finally, to answer your question after what may have seemed a long tangent: the model Distributists put forward is, quoting McNabb again, putting "first things first." Whatever arrangements we make in economic praxis, however large or complex the arrangement may become, justice is best secured by putting cost before utility. In market economics, complexity in itself does seem to have great utility, but it also has costs; but we've gotten too clever through credit, outsourcing, and other means of eliding or hiding those costs, leaving others holding the bag while we take the loot. Many of our current economic crises arise precisely from pursuing utility regardless of cost, or evading costs by burdening others with them—others who already are more heavily burdened by life and circumstances than the capitalist or the consumer can even conceive to imagine. Yet they are our brothers and sisters, too, even if halfway around the world; and they have their due in distributive justice just as much as we.