The productivity and labor experts of the 1960s were certain that tomorrow would become something akin to a worker’s paradise, built on the backs of robot labor and the undying worship of efficiency. Today, many new mothers can’t even afford to take the legally guaranteed minimum number of weeks off to spend time with their new child. It perversely became un-American—un-conservative even!—to believe that spending time with your family was beneficial for society at large.
It’s difficult for those of us here in the year 2014 to appreciate just how certain this exceptional future of leisure was. But the 30-hour work week wasn’t just some navel-gazing futurist’s dream. It was taken as a given by mainstream prognosticators. With the tremendous advances in automation and robotics happening after World War II, how could you see an abundance of leisure time as anything but inevitable? The media echoed this assurance of inevitability.