I have never found the idea of a "service economy" even mildly palatable. Service economy? Who are we servicing- ourselves? With what money? People abroad? They can go to cheaper countries. The idea of a "service economy" is a fallacy- if we lose that cornerstone of any economy- manufacturing, particularly heavy industry- the need to provide services will eventually diminish and those in need of services (i.e., emerging economies) will provide them for ourselves.
Even if we accept the Luddite fallacy as a... fallacy, we still have to face those jobs lost to technology, which in the coming years will even beyond our comprehension of what a machine or computer could do: waitstaff, janitors, even mid-level management. With the ever quickening pace of technological innovation, it will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century to teach or re-train people with the skills necessary to compete in the job market at a rate to keep up with innovation. That is to say, have them learn the skills before they're rendered redundant by the latest widget or whatsit.
With an increasing proportion of the population holding redundant or soon-to-be-redundant jobs, more and more of whatever wealth that remains in the country will be concentrated in managerial positions, which will require ever higher amounts of education (already, I know some companies that seek applicants with a BS, MS, and MBA). Who's most likely to be educated? The children of the wealthy. These jobs that require advanced degrees are more so jobs that involve "thinking"- and so there does exist an window for education for jobs that will not be redundant- and predicting the "grunt jobs" of the future that will not be done by algorithms.
Many Americans believe that the rise of China, as well as other so-called “emerging economies” such as Russia, South Korea, India, and Brazil, will lead to challenges to American economic growth and continued prosperity, but many more point to unrealized fears of the United States being eclipsed in economic might and global preeminence by the Soviet Union and Japan. What the new challengers have in common is population strength- both India and China have populations over a billion, as compared to Japan and the Soviet Union, which both had populations near 150 million, and the United States, with 300 million people. Demographics are on the emerging economies’ side, and the United States will have to effectively compete in order to retain its position in the world, which is rapidly eroding.
Essential to this position is the economy, and essential to the economy is manufacturing. For decades now American manufacturing has weakened, and so the cornerstone of the economy has been eroded as. Many still fail to realize this. If the United States intends to compete in the 21st century, much remain the world’s most important economy, it will have to develop a clear, developed, and effective policy towards manufacturing. Attitudes must change. People must no longer regard manufacturing as an artifact of the past, something that the United States can do without. Without such changes, the decline and demise of American manufacturing will soon become the decline and demise of America.
Nice essay, but do you have any specifics?