I think we are unduly harsh with Toronto Professor.
It is not untill crisis that we realize just what manufacturing is. It's not just machines.
It's a culture.
It is difficult to articulate what it is like to work in a factory. Add to this the fact that technology has eclipsed what little popular conception did exist before, it's little wonder that people outside the culture do not grasp the significance of what is going on here.
It's a culture. While the popular conception is of a guy repeatedly turning a screw all day on parts fed to him on a conveyor belt, it's hardly the reality. Particularly with today's technology, workers need to be of the type who can learn on the fly, problem solve under pressure, and have some understanding regarding elements of many disciplines.
And, of course, the mental toughess to maintain concentration over hours. And days. And weeks. And years. A talent that does not reside in the majority of people, but is frequent amoungst those who learned it from being raised in this culture.
That talent does not spring up on the land as easily as factories might be built on it.
It's all well and good to say we shouldn't be building cars that are fucking up the planet. But who will build the electric cars? Or any of the new "green" solutions?
And, if we don't, then we don't need robots and other cool machines. And we won't need the electrical, mechanical and software engineers that build them.
And, of course, we won't need as many Professors to educate the people we no longer have a need for.