I don't know where this self-importance stance comes from, but there really is nothing special in being a programmer. It doesn't really require much, nor does it require anything special. In fact it's probably the lowest of the low jobs related to IT. There is a reason why programmers are called code monkeys.
There might have been something about it when computers were so new and ancient that programming efficiently actually mattered. That was the age of John Romano and highly efficient code actually produced neat things. Now computers have developed into so powerful that such things just aren't required anymore.
What is the programmers job in reality? To put out code as fast as possible. It's often very boring, too. 99% of programming is just putting together function calls and libraries others have already coded. There hardly is any "challenge" as so many programmers on Slashdot like to put it. In reality it's boring as hell.
And you know what? Every programmer will get to the point where they don't want to programmers anymore. They start to see how monkey-like programming as a profession is. Then they want to be designers, those who actually need to think of the bigger picture than just putting together basic pieces of code in Visual Studio.
Programming itself doesn't require anything special. Designing does.