Well that’s an overstatement, but there’s been a long standing idea – going back to before Adam Smith that there’s something ‘good’ about “making things” to use some words that have suddenly become very popular. In reaction against this the economic establishment is of course against picking winners, and this occasionally manifests itself in a mindset that is almost anti-manufacturing.
In any event, I’ve never thought that there’s anything good about manufacturing – or better than other things. It produces some good jobs and quite a few awful ones, and the returns are not that high – it’s an area in which you get the ‘flying geese’ behind you threatening to catch up all the time – more so than in many services. One (not necessarily particularly strong) argument for assisting manufacturing was that it would help ‘diversify’ our economy and ameliorate the volatility of our terms of trade and our growth. Well not any more. Just as commodities used to come with a strong cycle, at least in this cycle, so has manufacturing.
As Glenn Stevens illustrates with this graphing (pdf) of the share of manufacturing against short term growth right now.