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.”

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.)

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