Can we discuss American Arrogance?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Can we discuss American Arrogance?
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 5:11pm
I saw a post on another site from a English man who is in the USA working and his wife (French) is also working here. He politely asks for insight about the American working culture/mindset. He says things here are very different from any country he has worked in and gives examples of fast-paced rudeness, being concerned about material things, and although he likes the USA and has many friends here he said he senses an arrogance sometimes that bothers him.

Now, I don't want to start a FIGHT, and we all know that European countries have their own problems. But one person who says s/he is proud to be an American nonetheless responds as follows and I wanted to get your thoughts. Personally, I see a lof of truth in this post:


I, too, love being an American. I'm in my early 50s, seen and experienced a lot in the "working world".

The ‘average' middle class American worker is spoiled, and so were their parents. It's all about the almighty dollar, greed, getting more money, faster-faster, so they can have more clothes, nicer cars and house and impress themselves and their friends and co-workers.

The average American has no clue about what "hard work" really is. To them hard work is a long commute, going into an office, turning on a computer, flipping thru some papers, being inconvenienced because the 6 voice mails they got made them late to a lunch date. A tough day is finding out the car needs a brake job then going to a meeting that didn't go exactly the way they wanted it to, then going home and having to cook a meal an ddo laundry all on the same evening.

They whine and complain about having to wait a couple weeks to find out if they got that promotion, even though many people would LOVE to have ANY job that allows them to survive and feel like a decent human being. They are too "busy" playing office politics and feathering their own nests.

I thought maybe the horrors of September 11, 2001 would change mindsets. No, it's only made most people angrier at the thought of having their nice lives disrupted. When I was working in an office on 9/11, our haughty receptionist who is married to the dept director went around for days crying. Why? Was SHE feeling anything for the victims and families? No. She was "upset" because a few weeks prior to 9/11 she and her husband had gone to Europe to enroll their daughter in a special college program, and she was now upset because she didn't want her daughter to worry about what was going on in the United States. The selfish ***** went right back to being herself and making comments about those foreigners who have the nerve to think they can interfere with the American Dream.

Most people think they are doing some great humanitarian deed when they give a freaking dollar to a street person or if they spend a minute listening to a hungry or homeless person and give them that "oh, I'm so sorry" look then go on with their lives. They say "if people want to work there are plenty of jobs". That have NO CLUE.

Sure, this country has a lot of good people. But the arrogance and greed is far too common and quite frankly, disgusting.

Just observe a political chatroom for awhile. Whether most admit it or not it's representative of the way Americans feel and think. They laugh and spit out garbage. They are only concerned about their own comfort and about making more money faster.

So now you know about American working culture. Don't even think about understanding it.~~~~~"

Edited 3/30/2003 10:15:27 PM ET by ttmd3


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 7:36pm
All I can say is that there are many Americans who aren't like that. Using a brush to paint such a broad spectrum is useless. Yes, there are many spoiled Americans...and there are many who do much for their community and even the world. There are many of us 'middle-class' Americans who work long, hard hours - 60 hours/week or more. They may not be all 'physical' jobs, but then, not all jobs require physical labor. Mental stress & burn out can be just as bad as it's physical counterpart.

Yes, Americans can be self-centered, egotistical and arrogant - I'd never argue that. But, I've met those kinds of people from ALL income levels. My complaint with most Americans is that they make little effort to understand the world outside of our country. IMHO, it's generally not arrogance but a bad case of tunnel-vision. The arrogance comes in when we go elsewhere and expect it to be like the U.S. - that's where we need to learn control - trying to remake everyone to fit our definitions. Okay, it's been a long day, and I hope my ramblings made some sense!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 12:32am
Interesting, that is not exactly how I see it. This is another "foreigner's" view of the USA work culture. I actually think a lot of Americans work really hard and work long hours and get very little annual leave and few public holidays. Isn't the standard annual leave 2 weeks a year? I think that if you are the working poor (below poverty line) in the USA it is really hard to get ahead b/c the USA does not have strong social programs. On a recent trip through the USA I was really surprised by the level of poverty I noticed.

I do think that if you are middle class in the USA, you can live very comfortably because taxes in the USA are so low compared to other western type countries. I think because income tax is so low plus you can deduct interest on your mortgage from your income tax(I wish!) middle class America has a very large disposable income, so hey you can have two cars and a house and a vacation and lots of materialistic type stuff. My sister and her American fiance live in the USA and they certainly seemed to buy a lot of STUFF. I guess when you can actually afford to buy extra luxury things then it is easier to become more materialistic. It makes sense.

The above is just my observation and I am not saying all Americans are like that.

I think a big mistake that many Americans and people of any culture make is stereotyping about a particular culture. Often many stereotypes can be accurate or have a grain of truth, but I think you should never judge an individual until you have taken the time to get to know them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 7:25am
Good points made by earlier two posters.

I had a relative visit me from Britain & he couldn't believe how dedicated & hardworking the Americans he met were. Most people I know are extremely conscientious & work long hours. Before I retired I'd often put in 12 hr. days. My DH, a systems analyst, puts in major hours, has a SOHO, & is on call 7/24. He's worked for his company 14 yrs. & has just reached the 3 weeks a year holiday status, + floating ones.

I agree with you on the arrogance, not in individuals so much, but as a perception of the national as a whole. Everything is so commercialized & instant gratification is the desired result. Must have the latest, the greatest, the fastest, the biggest.

I too was amazed at the amount of poor in the US. Don't understand how the richest country in the world overlooks this problem.

On the other hand the US has a larger middle class than most other countries. Many of this middle class is living with a great deal of debt which in turn motivates hard work. A medical/unemployment crisis can change fortunes drastically, as there aren't the same safety nets in place as in most Europian countries. Unless people carry large amounts of insurance. JMO, but I can't imagine Americans paying out the taxes to finance these safety nets. For example, many want to do away with Social Security as it stands today. Is it a lack social conscience? Or a reliance on private charities to take care of people in need?

As they say "travel broadens the mind" I recommend every American travel as much as possible. Not only will it make them thankful for the country they live in but they'll have an appreciation for what other countries have to offer.

I don't believe it's fair to generalize about America. It's such a vast country that every part of the US & it's people have a distinct flavour. It's like generalizing about Europe.... Norway versus Spain.

Thanks for your post. Welcome to the board!



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 8:20am
I have to disagree with you.

I grew up in europe and here and americans aren't that bad.They are just different.Look at History and you will find that the US has a short period of it compared to Europe.

Look back at the arrogance of Europe and the cruelty of Europeans in the name of Religion.

I live in Atlanta and I will be dammnesd if I give out another penny to a panhandler. I worked in an urban homeless shelter and did triage and have learned a whole lot.

Amnericans have good work ethics..admireable actuallly.

Where are you getting your info from?

What PERSONAL experience do you have to back up your assumptions?

Regards from Annie,2 chihuahuas,Pekingese and fat cat.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 1:33pm
I had mixed feelings about the post. But I don't think the amount of vacation and benetits packages, etc. was the issue. I interpreted it to mean that middle class American has no idea what real problems and hardship are, and most don't care as long as they are comfortable.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 1:36pm
Dorothealane, I did NOT write the article/post. Please look again - read the beginning of the post. I clearly stated that I saw it elsewhere. You are going off the deep end at the wrong person, and to be blunt my personal biography is none of your business and has nothing to do with the issue.

Edited 3/31/2003 6:29:10 PM ET by ttmd3
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 4:58pm
I just mentioned having only 2 weeks vacation time to imply that Americans work lots plus they have few public holidays. I currently live in Australia and was amazed when I got my first job to discover that I get 4 weeks paid vacation every year and that is normal. I have heard in Germany it is 6 weeks vacation.

:) Ang

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 5:25pm
Well, I see your point but I don't think vacation days have anything to do with the issue. I think the writer was saying that even though *some/many* Americans *claim* or *record* that they work long days, etc. while they might be at "work" they wither are not working that hard, if at all, and have no idea what hard work means. That they are more concerned abotu things like raises and vacation days and the neighbor's new SUV than they are about things which should matter more (values, ethics, family, people suffering, etc.)

I'm not going to say that ALL Americans are greedy and selfish and clueless, but way too many ARE.

I don't see where giving Americans another 4 weeks of vacation and big raises addresses the issue or solves anything.

Edited 3/31/2003 6:26:12 PM ET by ttmd3

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 5:46pm
Oops-didn't mean to send you off the deep end.Was just stating my opinion.Thought you were allowed to do that here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 7:43pm
You were correct that people are allowed to have opinions. However, in attackming ME for statements I did not make and in disagreeing with ME about (what you THOUGHT) *my* ASSumptions were, and in asking ME about MY experiences and where I lived, etc. etc. you deviated considerably from the isdsue and from opinion.

And I see here AGAIN you are not understanding that *I* am not the person who made the comments which you lashed out at.

For the record, giving a dollar two every bum on the street is not the issue, either. There are people who give money to beggars ...big deal.

It's unfortunate that you did not read the post before either of your replies. Sorry, but I don't know how to make it any clearer nor do I care to spend any more time explaining it to you.

Edited 3/31/2003 8:47:35 PM ET by ttmd3