Tom, I thought a lot about this last night and this morning. There are so many forces one could consider in crafting a thoughtful response. Through the lens of technology, the lives of the working class have been improved superficially (connectivity, mind-broadening access to knowledge, travel, and entertainment) but substantially undermined (automation, logistics, transition to off-shore labor).
You and I are close-enough in age to be at opposite ends of the same generation. I imagine that we share many common experiences growing up. I agree with you, much of the richness of life fifty-plus years ago has been washed away by the shifting tides of cultural values and priorities. As I've said elsewhere, the defining characteristic of our society isn't what we make but what we choose to throw away.
(I've never been accused of being a sociologist.)