For much of human history, and most of human pre-history, we've been more or less on a break even basis. You produce enough crops and houses and clothes and furniture to get by, with a little surplus. The surplus is taken up by periodic wars or famines. Life goes on generation to generation, maybe a little better, sometimes a little worse.
It's not really true anymore. Our standard of living is on a steep upward slope. One farmer can feed what, dozens or hundreds of people? One small team of workers with modern tools can build many houses a year. I can build all my own furniture and grow a lot of my own food, and it's not even the most efficient use of my time (I'm a rank amatuer at this stuff). The most efficent use of my time might be writing business sofware or something. I produce physical goods purely as a hobby.
The point is that even if scientific and technological progress came to a screeching halt right now, each successive generation will still be richer than the previous. In time, because of the productivity surplus, every child could have an iPhone, every teenager could have an electric car, every house could produce its own solar power.
The only thing that keeps us poor is the pace of progress of technology (no gadgets are heirlooms) and the pressure of population growth. That is frickin crazy.
What's almost crazier though, is our response to it. Never have we said, "that's enough, let's just work 20 hours a week and relax the rest of the time." Instead, the average number of working hours per family per week has risen dramatically over the last 50 years. I'm not one to argue agaisnt progress, but consider. The promise of technology has always been to make things easier, but to what end? I guess I always assumed, growing up, that the point was to have more leisure time. I had this concept of, oh, machines will do all the work for us, so we can spend our time learning or playing or whatever. WHATEVER.
I mean, I make casual games for a living so maybe we're already there, it just doesn't taste like I thought it would. I want my freedom.