This must be a very American attitude
I suspect its a Northern England attitude. In the interests of maintaining a 558 year cease fire I won't mention the colour of the rose involved!
I got started with SQL Server when an American company sent me on the original SQL6.5 courses (both of them). I've paid for some SQL Bits events myself and managed to claim back a few but that is mainly because I wrote up my notes to share with colleagues and peer so could legitimately claim I went in the interests of my company.
I have a friend who is paid towards the bottom end of his job salary range but his company insists on keeping their staff fully up-to-date on all certifications. He likes the people he works with, the location he works in and as long as he has enough to pay the bills he's happy. In fact, short of winning the lottery, he considers himself to have died and gone to heaven!