.is it based on, has it been run on the premise to make people wealthier, as opposed to happier?
You really would enjoy the book Bobos in Paradise.
It speaks to this. Researching wedding announcements in the NYT... 100 years ago people bragged about who their parents were. Today they brag about what college they went to.
We have long championed the 'American dream'. Some say this involves a house, picket fence, dog, car(s) etc.
The origin of 'the American Dream' was upward mobility. Europe had a caste system in the 17th century. You were locked into it at birth. Horatio Alger called it 'pluck and luck' but it was really about hard work and opportunity.
But the American dream is now a bigger house, an SUV, flat screen tv's, iPhones for all (one of my personal favorites), xboxes.
Wow... I don't have any of those. I can afford all of them. Just don't want them.