Couple points I want to respond to:
But my point was, why is the button pusher in a manufacturing facility viewed as a more skilled job than the button pusher in a service industry? It's all how society views the importance of the job, and eventually they will (or maybe I should say "should") come to realize that those providing you with a service shouldn't be looked down upon as a lower class. As the average age of the service industry increases, it won't be a bunch of 35 year olds looking down on kids from the next generation, it will be a bunch of 35 year olds looking at their peers.
I think that this is a question which is itself based on a common misconception. The value of labor is not based on how difficult the work is, but on how valuable the output of that labor is to the consumer (or to the employer as the case may be). The button pusher on a factory floor likely handles equipment which adds thousands of dollars of "value" to the bottom line of the company every day. The button pusher at the fast food joint adds maybe $100 to the companies bottom line. That person is at the tail end of the consumption path, and thus his work is least valued.
Add up the total cost of materials consumed by the fast food joint over the course of an 8 hour shift. Then add up the total dollars paid at the register for the resulting food. Now divide the result by the number of people employed during that 8 hour shift. That's the maximum average dollars you could possibly pay those people for that labor. Do the math sometime, and you'll realize that even with a massive mark up on costs, the total sales just isn't high enough to justify paying people high salaries. And if you did, you'd have to raise the cost of the food. The consumers determine the value of the food, which in turn sets the value of the labor used to make it.
Do the same kind of math for a factory and you'll see why the factory worker gets paid more. It's not some unfair conspiracy. It's about how we place value on things.
No, automation kills jobs. Period. In no way anywhere in the world does automation not remove jobs. I understand what you are saying by making our facilities more productive we would save jobs. But as a control technician as well, I have watched automation remove more jobs than relocation. Now why do I say that despite jobs moving on mass out of Canada and the US in manufacturing. When they come back out automation still limits the jobs.
When a line moves from the US (or Canada) to Mexico the automation goes with it. My supervisor set up the line in Mexico for the EXACT same process as we ran here. It requires the same number of people, and produces the same number of frames. We lost 60 jobs to that line. When and if it comes back the Maximum amount of jobs we can expect is 60, because the process was designed for 20 people to run over 3 rotating shifts. In 1998 that exact same process had 100 people over 3 shifts, 40 jobs ELIMINATEDbecause we had robots come in instead of people. This exact line was recreated in Mexico, making the EXACT same product. If those jobs ever come back it will be the same 60 jobs coming back unless its been further automated since its left, requiring less people.
Automation does not save jobs. It removes jobs entirely from the industry. All over the world. A job done by a robot is a job that will never be done by a human in any part of the world ever again.
That's a very simplistic way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is that it increases the relative value of the jobs remaining *and* creates the potential for greater total productivity from the market itself (meaning a bigger total pie). What makes the factory workers button pushing more valuable than the fast food workers button pushing is precisely the fact that automation means he's creating more productive output with that button push. That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing.
The argument you're making is akin to saying that tools destroy jobs. If only everyone harvested wheat by hand rather than using some kind of tool, we'd be able to employ so much more of our people harvesting wheat, right? And if we didn't replace those hand tools with automated tractors, we'd save yet more jobs. It's bad logic. In each case, we make the labor we use more efficient, which allows the entire economy to generate more productive output. The idea that this is automatically wrong because it destroys jobs is absurd and somewhat pointless. Jobs will be created to meet the demands of the labor market. The historical record on this is pretty hard to deny.