The always lucid Don Boudreaux:
A prominent group of 18th century economic thinkers – the Physiocrats – argued that the ultimate source of all wealth is agriculture. They regarded the then-just-emerging industrial sector to be sterile.
Harold Meyerson is a member of a group that we might call the “Factoryocrats.” Just as the Physiocrats misread the once-dominant role of agriculture as proof that the only truly productive activity is farming, Mr. Meyerson’s histrionic fear about the decline of manufacturing employment in America suggests that he misreads the once-dominant role of factory work as proof that the only truly productive activity is manufacturing.
I call this phenomenon "all change is bad" thinking. It happens a lot in global warming discussions, but it also happens in economics. You can tell when you're dealing with "all change is bad" thinking when the world as we currently know it is at the pinacle and any deviation from what we have today represents a step backwards.
Of course that is rarely the case - almost all change is positive. Towards this end, Don points out:
The Physiocrats would be astonished to learn that Americans today are very well fed (and otherwise provided for) even though a mere 2 percent of the work force is in agriculture. Similarly, if Mr. Meyerson weren’t blinded by Factoryocratic myths, he’d see that Americans today are very well supplied with manufactured goods (and food and services) even though a mere 10 percent of the work force is in manufacturing.