|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
Are you sure you shouldn't be looking for another job, dragonchild? Taking on board your comment and Anonymonks corollary...
Maybe I was lucky - my current employer was my first US one, and first "real" one ever (before that I set up a web design business and then wrote some e-commerce software). Consequently, I came to my current job with no ideas on the etiquette of US companies. It had both good and bad consequences. To some, I was an irritation, to others, I was an honest opinion. Fortunately, my opinions mattered. And my approach seems to have paid off. Whenever I see a problem that I think needs fixing, I start planning a solution, and I am encouraged to do so!. A year ago, I decided our CRM solution was utter crap. And Windows only - not much good for escalating issues to sysadmins or development :) I'm currently writing our own from scratch and having great fun. I also had some good ideas about helping some people survive a slashdotting (well, I half saved the last one, but when his book comes out we can (hopefully) test my theory :), and will ask someone else to code it up when I've finalized the specs.
Wow. Maybe we just have a good culture that encourages this? I don't know - not having worked for any other US employers.
Admittedly, we're not a huge corporate, but we all work to keep the culture healthy. Politics is discouraged, and often people do work outside of their job description because they see it needs doing.
Basically, I would disagree with your statement, unless it's amended to, "No-one wants you to tell them how good at programming you are."
I'm excited about the work we're going to be doing this year, and am encouraging other team members to take over responsibility for existing projects and create new ones themselves. I honestly believe that the whole dev team have fun and feel that their opinions and skills count.
Just my little rant - no conclusions really :)
Am I just lucky. Is a healthy work environment really that rare?