Luddite, reactionary, "the past was better" crap like this creeps me out. Obviously, there's the whole "those who can, do; those who can't, teach and complain about those who can" thing going on with this professor, and teaching a non-subject like "Women's Studies" is just pathetic, but that's not all of it.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, Americans are currently 4.5% of the world population, and 21% of the world GDP. We do get something for that hard work.
Personally, I like what I do for a living, and how hard I work. In between software contracts I get a "vacation" of a few weeks (usually; the dot-bomb thing kinda sucked for me), and then I go back to work at 40 hour work weeks (one virtue of doing Extreme Programming projects is that overtime is seen as counterproductive).
Yes, I could work less and live in mid-20th C. squalor, or I could work harder and live like a 21st C. American with my beautiful iMac and lots of sexy industrial music and alcohol that won't make me blind. I choose modern civilization. Anyone who wants to live in the 1940s Reservation (see Transmetropolitan) is free to move to Oklahoma and do so.
I think people forget how bad things were back then, even for relatively prosperous Americans of that primitive age: Black and white TVs and radio, and maybe seeing a movie once every couple weeks. Refrigerators you had to defrost by hand. Giant vacuum cleaners you had to drag around instead of little autonomous Roomba robots (or worse, no vacuum at all--hardwood floors and dragging the throw rugs outside to beat the dirt out). Phones that just dialed through to a number, with no rapid dialing list, no voice mail, no conference calling, no cell phones. No Internet. No email. Music had to be played on scratchy vinyl with mono speakers and no amplifier. No portable music of any kind, let alone an iPod. It goes on forever. Everything in the past was low-tech dark ages crap that took more effort and gave inferior results.
These are not just material objects, they're all things that free up your personal time to read or learn or play or go out or listen to music or whatever. They all make your life better. What kind of idiot is going to give them up?
The past SUCKED. Most of this planet still SUCKS. Only by working hard and building new stuff are we going to make things better, and most of the lazy bastards on this planet aren't helping. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan seem to get it. Hong Kong did, before Red China ate it. The French, on the other hand, are the perfect laboratory example of what happens when people stop working; their economy is a disaster heading down the crapper fast, and a majority of them live in what we'd consider intolerable conditions, and that's from just a couple decades of slacking off.
"You're probably wondering what the point of all this ugly rambling bullshit is. It's this: THE FUTURE IS INHERENTLY A GOOD THING. and we move into it one winter at a time."