You're right. Nothing ever came out of the space program, aerospace industry or particle physics labs that equated back to our day to day life.
To quote JFK, "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too"
The U.S. learned from going to the moon. From building the tevatron and the A-12/SR-71. From the Manhattan project.
It doesn't matter if the goals are social equality and food for all, or freeing ourselves from the Oil economy. What matters is the single, common and focused goals to drive projects and technology further. The type of projects that lead to new and better lives for everyone in it. The list of discoveries and advancements made *JUST* off of the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo projects would fill pages. It was not about putting a footprint on the moon. It was putting a footprint on the moon and learning everything we could about doing it. It was about the advancement in computers, radio, rocketry, electronics and a myriad of other fields. The A-12 project advanced our understanding of supersonic travel to a new level.
The point is, I really think as a society, we've fallen into the prediction that John Steinbeck made at the height of the progress of the 60's.
"We now face the danger, which in the past has been the most destructive to the humans: Success, plenty, comfort and ever-increasing leisure. No dynamic people has ever survived these dangers."