The mayor spoke to several hundred people at Wheaton College Thursday.
The visit was in support of the school's J. Dennis Hastert Center. Daley took some questions, including one about how to restore America.
"We have become a country of whiners, my theory. We started whining about the Japanese. 'The Japanese are gonna take us over.' You know, we thought we defeated them in the Second World War, rebuilt it, they're taking us over in 1970. 'What's going to happen to America? They're gonna own our country. That's it. We're all out of jobs,'" Daley said. "Then we start whining about the Mexicans. 'We're losing all the manufacturing to Mexico. Look what's taking place. We cannot compete. We can't do this, we can't do this.' Now, we forgot about the Mexicans. Now, we're whining about the Chinese and the Indians. We're a country of whiners. That's all we are. We should have enough confidence that we can compete with people if we all sacrifice a little bit for the common good. If we do that, we can compete with any nation."
Mayor Daley will have more public speaking gigs once he leaves office in May.
Daley, who will be replaced as Chicago mayor in May by Rahm Emanuel, also said taxpayers can no longer finance the current level of government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.