Middle-class America has long been associated with a certain set of values. These Americans typically describe themselves as hardworking, thrifty, and family-oriented. These values have been appreciated in American culture ever since the days of the Pilgrims. Middle-class Americans view themselves as upwardly mobile. They aspire for their children to be successful. They consider themselves as relatively self-sufficient without needing governmental financial aid. Middle-class Americans often view working-class America as uncouth and not upwardly mobile. Middle-class America sees some of the poverty of the working class as the result of poor life choices and views the rich jealously in some instances. Middle-class Americans view the rich as being out-of-touch with their values, as if too much money could lead to a deterioration of what they view as American morality and work ethic. Many middle-class Americans, however, aspire to be wealthy or aspire for their children to be wealthy. In order to present an air of wealth, the middle-class is often willing to go into debt in order to secure nice houses, luxury vehicles, and places at prestigious universities.
People are often willing to discuss class, since most people view themselves as middle-class no matter how much they earn. It creates a sense of belonging for most Americans. They are somehow better than the working classes, and yet they have not lost their ethics like the wealthy. Many people do not like to discuss how much they earn, as this is considered bragging. By assigning a quantitative number to one's wealth, one can easily compare one job with another. Being from the middle class is considered more of a qualitative measure and is used to create a sense of belonging with mainstream America.