General Question

pageiv's avatar

Are Americans lazy?

Asked by pageiv (112points) November 16th, 2011

There’s no doubt some, or many, are, but to say America is lazy in business matters isn’t something you’d expect a president to say.

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33 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

No, but I will tell you what is lazy, at least intellectually, and that is painting with a broad brush. (Not accusing you of doing this, by the way, just people who buy into and spread ignorant stereotypes like this).

rebbel's avatar

As are some Dutch, some Kroatians, some Vietnamese, some Liberians, some Italians, some Norwegians, etc.

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wundayatta's avatar

The President said, “We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades,” President Obama said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”

He was talking to business leaders and urging them to sell America more. He could have said that we have been remiss in our efforts, or that there’s more we could do. Instead he used the value judgment that we are lazy, and he will suffer for it thoughout the campaign (as will we all).

Personally, I think the notion of lazy is bullshit. There is no such thing as laziness. There are merely differing priorities. Do I prefer to make beautiful cars, or sit around chatting up beautiful girls? If I do the latter, you will surely call me lazy, but making girls is much more fun than making cars—at least to some of us.

Should I write the research paper or play the video game? Well, shoot, if I write the paper, I might graduate from college and get a good job and be able to retire at age 50. But that’s 30 years from now and who knows what will happen. If I play the video game, I’ll surely get more value from my time. Never mind that people will think I’m lazy.

In terms of delayed gratification… I dunno how American compare. If you are rich, you can afford to gratify yourself because you aren’t so worried about your future.

TexasDude's avatar

@wundayatta that’s a pretty good point you make there. Also, I think it is important that you mentioned, for the sake of this question, the context in which Obama was speaking.

@rebbel, now that’s different. We are all naturally excellent lovers. That has nothing to do with our laziness. ;-0

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard There’s a city in Italy named, “Bastard”? Amazing!

Ummmm… some are. Some are not.

jaytkay's avatar

I work with a pretty broad range of people, and the immigrants generally work A LOT harder than people born in the US.

They’re the ambitious people who had the gumption to leave whatever country didn’t satisfy their ambition.

So yes.

FPCB has gone full TR!

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think Americans are lazy. I think Americans were rather comfortable and many, probably half don’t plan for a rainy day. That tends to look like not willing to sacrifice, spoiled, cocky, and a sense of entightlement.

I think @wundayatta was fantastic!

TexasDude's avatar

@JLeslie good point. That’s one of the dangers of living in a vastly wealthy culture: our plenty makes us complacent and we gradually grow less inclined to engage in work that actually produces something, as that type of work is no longer necessary to our survival.

digitalimpression's avatar

Some say yes, some say no. Reality? Some are, some aren’t.. just as in every culture.

JLeslie's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Thanks. I think I should have added that I see Americans every day work incredibly hard. In fact, I think the majority of Americans don’t have enough balance, and work too much. Many European countries give 5 weeks vacation to their employees. Some practically religiously close up business by 5:00 and go home to enjoy their families for some quaity time, while in America I see many many workaholics. I wrote a Q the other day about how disgusted I am that retailers are opening midnight Black Friday Morning, the employees having to work the graveyard shift that day in my opinion are being abused, yet they will show up even if they hate it, because they need their job or feel loyal to it.

I want to compete in the world for the good of the country, but I also want to get off of the crazy treadmill we are on, bring things back into balance.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’d really like to answer but nappy time is calling.

TexasDude's avatar

@JLeslie you’re actually correct. We (Americans) do tend to be workaholics compared to a lot of other folks in the Western world, at least according to statistics. I do think we should strike a balance between work and leisure (which provides numerous benefits), though I am not personally in favor of legally mandating a certain length of work-week if people want to voluntarily work a boatload of overtime or what have you.

tinyfaery's avatar

This was is.

dannyc's avatar

Americans are as good, and certainly no lazier, as anyone else. No better, as genes do not select by nationality. America’s problems are no worse than any other place, and certainly the ingenuity of citizens there are admired around the world . I am betting on a turnaround, the optimist in me sees it sooner than the droll pundits will envisage.

JLeslie's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I wouldn’t want to mandate vacation time either. It’s also worth noting that some cultures seem to work more hours, I had a friend whoworked in Tokyo for several years and most of the employees stayed worked well past 5:00. I have no idea how much vacation time the Japanese typically get. I just feel likeI want the whole world toslow down a little in their greed, not in our pursuit of science and discovery, although since money tends to affect that I guess it would slow down a little also, but just take that 10% edge off (made up number) where there will still be reasonable productivity, and plenty of revenue, and also a little more time to smell the roses.

whitetigress's avatar

You’re talking about the United States of America as a representative whole correct? A country that is currently occupying the streets of nearly every major city, because they want change in the structure of this current capitalist nation is one example of not being lazy. My mother, holds two jobs works every single day, 7 days a week, an American is not lazy. As a whole, versus other countries we were bred to work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. That, in comparison to other industrialized modern nation is not lazy.

Blueroses's avatar

I don’t think we are lazy as people doing what it takes to survive. I do think we are lazy voters. So many people go to the polls and put a check mark down for a name they’re “heard of” without bothering to know anything about where that person stands on issues.

It starts on local levels – really, do you know who your council representatives are? – and progresses up the ranks. That’s why they all want lawn signs. Remember the name when you get in the booth. It doesn’t matter whatever else you say.

mowens's avatar

Where are my potato chips?

skfinkel's avatar

Silly question. And a misunderstanding of Obama’s words.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’m not lazy at all. Now shutup and hand me the TV remote and my bonbons.

King_Pariah's avatar

Relatively, yes.

pageiv's avatar

I must have misheard him when he said, “But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.”

In hindsight maybe he’s talking about himself and not Americans in general. I was just wondering if this view is pervasive.

citizenearth's avatar

Not so. Some Europeans are lazier.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, of course not. Take a look at these workforce productivity comparisons. The US is doing quite well, see last column

Helpr's avatar

That was not an insult, but a constructive critique.

glut's avatar

Americans are not lazy as long as they vote for Democrats and belong to a union.

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