The following is an excerpt from John Maynard Keynes' essay, "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren." The text in which it appears is A World of Ideas, edited by Lee A. Jacobus. The page on which this excerpt appears is 259.
The essay was used in a lecture J. M. Keynes delivered in the 1930's. Note that Keynes was known for his brilliance in economic theory, not especially for his prose ability -- hence the need for paraphrase.
Let us, for the sake of argument, suppose that a hundred years hence we are all of us, on the average, eight times better off in the economic sense than we are today. Assuredly there need be nothing here to surprise us.
Now it is true that the needs of human beings may seem to be insatiable. But they fall into two classes--those needs which are absolute in the sense that we feel them whatever the situation of our fellow human beings may be, and those which are relative in the sense that we feel them only if their satisfaction lifts us above, makes us feel superior to, our fellows. Needs of the second class, those which satisfy the desire for superiority, may indeed be insatiable; for the higher the general level, the higher still are they. But this is not so true of the absolute needs--a point may soon be reached, much sooner perhaps than we all of us are aware of, when these needs are satisfied in the sense that we prefer to devote our energies to non-economic purposes.
Now for my conclusion, which you will find, I think, to become more and more startling to the imagination the longer you think about it.
I draw the conclusion that, assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that the economic problem is not--if we look into the future--the permanent problem of the human race.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and even if you don't so choose) is the following: