Inarguably having the right tool for the job makes ones life easier, but it is not absolutley necessary to make a superb image. In my case I had the intention to move to Mexico and bought the equipment with that goal in mind, I bought the best I could afford and all of the things I thought I would need. OTOH I have never replaced a lens, I dont feel the need to change lenses as new ones come out, if I was able to take a fine pic with my nikkor 210, do I really need a Super Symmar 210 XL with humongous coverage? no..not really. I think this is what LD is talking about. Somehow the mentality in the US is that "newer" is better....when many times is not the case specially in LF. Of course we also have to think that this "consumerism" is one of the strenghts of America. You have no idea how lucky you are to be able to just make a call or get online and get what you want, I have found this the hard way here in Mexico and it is very frustrating, perhaps this frustration and lack of materials is what makes photographers in other countriies more careful about their craft.
Many on this thread have touched on the same feelings I have, I never changed films, I stuck with one and worked with it until I was able to master it. Althoigh I do admit I went through my "film test" phase where I thought I was going to find the magic bullet, in the end I ended up where I started and confirmed my gut feeling that I had been a fool by trying all those film/developer combinations, I learned a lot, but the effort was not worth the results.
HAving said all this I find the comment about being sorry for americans kind of elitist and maybe born out of a little bit of jealousy. Lets remember that is this kind of availability and convenience that provide people with the tools to make truly wonderful images. HOw many have heard of a exceptional Russian photographer, or for that matter a Checkoslovakian one? I am sure there are many but exposure is also based on consumerism, if the population is capable of paying hundreds of dollars for a print then there is a greater chance a photographer will dedicate his life to make images, but if you only get 10 dollars for an image, well....kind of hard to become a master when all you can do is take pics on the weekend.
Also if I had to choose between two images one technically perfect with great content and one with great content but so so on the technical part, I would go for the former one, why settle for less? It is this kind of "anal" perfection attitude american photographers have that has raised the level of expertise and beauty in photography. It is easy to say "a well this is good enough with the materials I have", but I bet Weston or Adams or Caponigro never felt this way.
So although I understand LD's comment I have to disagree with his distpatch, never the less a very interesting one and I am glad it was discussed here.