We and the world have higher-order problems we must solve and not diffuse by a rat-race for money.
Thanks for the question. Even though I am a big proponent of a saying I parlayed from the (fantastic) Pixar Movie Ratatouille into,
“Not everyone can be a genius, but a genius can come from anywhere.”
assigning presumptive merit to those who merely made a bulk-load of money as a peanut grower, an actor from Hollywood, or riding the gravy-train of real-estate and hotels has proven, I think we can all agree by now, to be a foolish thing to do.
Populism is not a great source of merit that breaks the norm.
Same with Jack Ma, I have much respect for his grit and what he pulled off business-wise under challenging circumstances, but his hastily acquired wealth does not warrant a commensurate assignment of merit in global affairs and the evolution of humanity. Until proven otherwise.
Hence, my response to your question is a decisive: no!
The real problem
The real and higher-order problem of The United States (and the world) is a lack of freedom. Yes, I said it. Reread it; a lack of freedom. But wait, aren’t we freer than any other country in the world? Yes and no.
The quality of human evolution is dependent on a freedom to each his own, a relativity theory of freedom quite the opposite to the absolutism we deploy and promulgate to the rest of the world today.
You see, our market-models (copied around the world) are in blatant violation of the most rudimentary principles of freedom one can conjure up. Instead of perpetuating ever-narrowing oligarchic controls as the ruse to freedom that submits and enslaves unsuspecting people to a stifling monism of freedom and with a steepening bell-curve of supposed merit, strikingly similar in appearance to a raised middle-finger, artificially separating and cornering the haves and have-nots.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free” — Goethe
The need for real freedom, which must be redefined as a relativity theory, arises not from some warm-and-fuzzy morals we all wish to see for humanity, but for essential reasons enhancing the quality and endurance of our evolution. For only the kind of freedom that continually challenges and redefines what it means to be free, even at a personal level, it can produce and ignite the health and renewability humanity needs to thrive.
We must begin to inspire the world – by example – by reinventing what it means to be genuinely free, with a new operating-system of humanity more closely modeling the dynamic plethora of freedoms evolution has already bestowed upon humanity, and we are currently keeping from ourselves.
Hence, what we squandered was our freedom. The kind of freedom that distributes wealth more accurately and deliberately to evolutionary merit.