How work ethic became a substitute for good jobs is a chilling read about the role of “work ethic” in American culture.
One quote to mull from the article, although the whole thing is worth reading:
The spectre of life without work has fuelled many utopian schemes for centuries. But there’s also a pragmatic rationale – we simply don’t need to work as much to produce what we need and want as we once did. Long hours serve a political and cultural agenda as much as they do an economic imperative. Transcending a long-hours economy will, in the process, transform our ideological commitments to work, offering different lessons about ‘time well spent’.
Not directly related, but I’ve recently been working with Americans more than at any point over the past decade. The cultural need to talk about work, appear busy and what amounts to productivity porn is real. Incidentally, they are some of the least productive people I know.