Until about 1980, technological advances benefited American workers and American society. Technological advances improved productivity, and workers shared in the benefits proportionately. Wages rose at the same rate as productivity.
Not only were American workers paid more, they enjoyed progressively shorter work weeks. As workers’ pay increased, they could buy more, which created more work, and more demand for workers.
Then, things changed. Technology continued its relentless march forward, but productivity increases stopped translating into higher wages. Instead, policy choices made by America’s political leaders caused the increased wealth and income from those productivity improvements to flow almost exclusively to those at the top.
Over the course of just four decades, America went from historically low levels of economic inequality to its highest level of economic inequality ever, surpassing even the inequality that reigned during the country’s gilded age. While the wealthiest American families own 60 times the wealth they owned in the early 1980s, the wealth of the median American family has decreased.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction