Netflix CEO: Americans are ‘self-absorbed’
posted at 1:48 pm on September 27, 2010 by Laura Curtis
In a recent interview, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded to a question whether his American customers were likely to be disgruntled about the cheaper deal Netflix is offering Canadians:
“How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It’s something we’ll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed.”
Hastings is perfectly entitled to charge his customers whatever he pleases, and he owes no explanations for the disparity. But it seems unwise for him to literally add insult to injury. I find the low regard he has for paying customers like me a bit shocking, and I’ll keep it in mind as I investigate other streaming entertainment options, especially free ones like Hulu and Boxee. When Hastings’ “self-absorbed” customers complained, he proffered a weak apology, claiming it was a was a bad joke:
“My Big American Foot is in my mouth. Yesterday, I made an awkward joke with a reporter in Toronto about Americans (like me) being self-absorbed relative to Netflix pricing in Canada. I was wrong to have made the joke, and I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people.”
Hastings’ claim of a joke gone awry is not believable when you read the original comment in context, and even as a joke it lacks enough realism to be amusing. But it is a view of Americans often stated by liberals. (Of the $255,450 of Hasting’s political donations, $224,700 has gone to Democrats.)
It’s time that liberals who famously claim to be “the reality-based community” finally learn that their view of what Michelle Obama described as an “uninvolved, uninformed” America is informed by their own insularity and stinginess – not the facts. Conservatives give more blood, time and money than liberals. Many liberals, including Reed Hastings, call for higher taxes so that money can be redistributed through the government. President Obama and Vice-President Biden’s 2008 tax returns show a similar contrast in what they demand of us and what they do – including Obama’s irony-rich demands that we should be our brother’s keeper when he, a millionaire, has an aunt living on the dole and a brother in abject poverty. I do agree with Mr. Hastings that there are many “self-absorbed” Americans out there, but they don’t represent a majority that would justify his original statement.
Not only are Americans aware of the world around us, we are involved. The fact is that American private donations to poor countries “dwarf that of other rich nations.” When there is a disaster somewhere in the world, we give generously. The 2004 tsunami is a perfect example. In addition to the $900 million worth of services and supplies provided by taxpayers via the government, corporations, non-profits and individual Americans gave an additional $2 billion. After the earthquake in Haiti, Americans gave generously again.
It is remarkable that private philanthropic donations have been steady in spite of the fact that unemployment has nearly doubled since 2007.
Philanthropy from the United States to developing countries—which includes contributions from foundations, corporations, PVOs, individual volunteers, religious organizations and colleges and universities—held steady at $37.3 billion compared to $36.9 billion in 2007, and exceeded official U.S. aid by more than $10 billion. As with last year, PVOs accounted for the largest portion of U.S. philanthropy going overseas at $11.8 billion.
Hastings was entirely correct in his apology that Americans are not self-absorbed. What is perplexing is why he said it to begin with, and why so many believe it is true.
Originally posted at the Washington Examiner.