Happiness quantification sounds a bit wishy-washy, sure, and through a series of carefully administered surveys across the globe, economists and psychologists have certainly confronted a fair number of sticky issues around how to measure, and even define, happiness.
The idea of confidence, of the emotions of the population, is an incredibly important one in economics. John Maynard Keynes called it 'animal spirit.' And if people are feeling generally good about the future, they're more likely to spend money, to start new companies; companies are more likely to hire people, make investments.
The America that I think most Americans would want, most economists on the right or left would want, is one in which a smart, ambitious, hardworking person without a huge amount of resources has a pretty good shot, in the end, of beating out a less smart, less ambitious, less hardworking rich person.