Culture Indeed Makes All the Difference. (Just not necessarily in the way Romney meant.)
JERUSALEM — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney angered Palestinian leaders on Monday when he suggested here that the Israeli economy had outpaced the economy of the Palestinian territories in part because of advantages of “culture.” …
Romney said he had studied a book called “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” searching for an answer about why two neighboring places–the U.S. and Mexico, for instance, or Israel and the Palestinian areas–could have such disparate prosperity.
“Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said, repeating the conclusion he drew from that book, by David Landes. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”
— Romney faces Palestiniancriticism for Jerusalem remarks as he heads to Poland, Philip Rucker, Joel Greenberg and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, today
Wait. Culture makes all the difference? I thought it was tax rates on the wealthy and on corporations that makes all the difference. Oh, and not having national universal health insurance.
But aren’t Israel’s tax rates on the wealthy and on corporations much higher than the tax rates here during the 1990s—the tax rates that Obama wants to reinstate and that Romney says would amount to socialism? And certainly during the last decade? And doesn’t Israel have national universal health insurance?
Gosh. Maybe it really is culture, rather than tax rates that so favor the wealthy and a minimal social safety net, that determines economic prosperity. At least concerning tax policy, that’s certainly been true for the United States, whose economic prosperity seems directly negatively correlated to low tax rates for the wealthy and for corporations, and to deregulation. And whose culture regarding tax and regulatory policy has changed dramatically in the last three decades.
NOTE: I removed an earlier draft of this post in order to repost it with needed editing. (Funny, how the misplacing of two commas in a sentence can make the sentence say the opposite of what you intended.)
Ummm, penning the Palestinians into ever smaller pieces of real estate, prohibiting them trading with anyone, etc. just MIGHT have something to do with it, doncha think?
No, no, no! It’s that their tax rates on wealthy individuals and on corporations are too high, and that their regulatory laws are too intrusive!
Mormons and Jews are God’s Chosen. You only have to consult their respective Holy Scriptures. And then endure some dogma about the Lost Tribes in relation to Meso-Americans and appearance of Egyptian hieroglyphics in Upstate New York nearly 200 years ago for all of this to make perfect sense.
I am sure that Romney sees nothing at all weird with connecting American Exceptionalism with the Mosaic Promised Land narrative spelled out in Exodus and the Book of Joshua. That this might in some slight way offend the putative descendants of the Canaanites being literally and doubly foreign to Mittens world view.
I don’t know how many moderns have taken the time to read the sixth book of the canonical Bible, I.e. Joshua. But don’t take my word for it, pick up your standard KJV and read it yourself. In the context of subsequent history.
It makes for troubling reading. But for fundamentalist Christians, Jews and wherever Mormons fit on the spectrum Holy Writ. With the only fault not acting in accordance with the Word.
Not to give spoilers but the whole PNAC Neo-Con cum Likud worldview/political platform makes a lot more sense once filtered through the Book of Joshua. Which I have read carefully. Something I expect most mainstream Christians either haven’t or didn’t pay attention. While I suspect Mitt and most Christian Fundies can recite Chapter and Verse.
Hint: not much resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount. Which I have also read. And ditto.
Romney read the wrong book. Might I recommend Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson, instead?
(From Amazon’s review):
“Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it).”