Freedom Makes All the Difference

Mitt Romney's controversial comments about economic development overlooked a key variable.

Palestinian leaders were understandably insulted when Mitt Romney, noting the huge gap in wealth between Israel and the West Bank during a speech in Jerusalem on Monday, declared, "Culture makes all the difference." Although culture plays an important role in economic development, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee overlooked another key variable: government.

Good government establishes conditions that are conducive to production, innovation, and trade. I am not talking about the roads, bridges, and public schools cited by President Obama in his notorious "you didn't build that" speech. I am talking about a more basic kind of infrastructure: the rule of law, protection of property rights, enforcement of contracts, honest and open government, tolerable taxes, and a minimum of interference with transactions between consenting adults.

When the state flagrantly flouts these principles, people do not prosper, no matter how much they value education, how hard they are prepared to work, how much risk they are willing to take, or how inclined they are to save and invest. In fact, oppressive, arbitrary government changes culture, making these traits less valuable and therefore less common.

When Romney said "culture makes all the difference," he was quoting The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, a 1998 book by the historian David Landes. Elsewhere in the book, Landes is less categorical, saying "culture can make all the difference" (emphasis added) and cautioning that "culture does not stand alone."

What else makes a difference? Landes is quite clear that limits on government are essential. When he says "the driving force" of economic progress during the last millennium "has been Western civilization and its dissemination," he is referring not just to cultural values such as thrift, competition, gender equality, and the Protestant work ethic but also to the political values that keep the state from smothering creative effort.

Saeb Erekat, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, highlighted the importance of political institutions when he complained that Romney "doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation." Israeli checkpoints, control of imports and exports, and interference with land use, even if justified by legitimate security concerns, surely have impaired economic development in the territory administered by the Palestinian Authority, but so has the authority's history of corruption and incompetence.

Those factors, along with intermittent violence, go a long way toward explaining the enormous difference in per capita GDP between Israel and the West Bank (which Romney actually understated by a factor of five): $28,600 vs. $2,900, according to the CIA's 2009 numbers. There are also stark, though less dramatic, disparities between Israel and bordering Arab countries. According to the CIA's 2011 estimates, per capita GDP was $31,400 for Israel, $15,700 for Lebanon, $6,600 for Egypt, $6,000 for Jordan, and $5,100 for Syria.

One interpretation of these data—the one Erekat clearly had in mind when he called Romney's remarks "racist"—is that Arabs are lazy, while Jews are good with money. Yet Arabs excel economically in countries with stable governments that respect individual rights and the rule of law. In the United States, for instance, Arab-American households are more affluent than the average.

A similar pattern can be seen among the Chinese, who, Landes observes, "have long been so unproductive at home and yet so enterprising away." The laissez-faire Hong Kong Special Administrative Region—which has a per capita GDP of nearly $50,000, compared to $8,500 in the rest of China—shows it's not distance but rules that matter. Likewise, East Germany's per capita GDP was about half West Germany's in the decades before unification, while South Korea's is about 18 times North Korea's.

Culture matters, but these examples demonstrate that institutions are crucial. If you compare per capita GDP to ratings in Freedom House's annual Freedom in the World report or the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, you will see a clear association between poverty and tyranny. Maybe Romney should have said, "Freedom makes all the difference."

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The whole point of a sanctions or a blockade is to harm economic development by restricting freedom of trade. If the Palestinians again wish to enjoy the economic growth they had during the 90s, between the two intifadas, when they were free to do business with Israelis, all they have to do is to stop firing missiles at Israel from Gaza. But, of course, Hamas doesn't want economic development because, as Sullum points out there is "a clear association between poverty and tyranny".

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • WTF||

    Not all that surprising since marijuana has been a religion for Snoop for a long time.

  • ||

    HM: You owe me a new monitor. I clicked on the video. The first thing I see is an ad saying "Achievement belongs to everyone". I put a round in the screen before I could stop myself.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    That's not the proper way to return ammo you bought over the internet, you know.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Sorry?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You didn't write that post, Kant. Government wrote it for you.

  • mr simple||

    Does this mean we'll no longer see him at the chuuch.

  • Skip||

    Wasn't there some story about the Palestinians being given a flower store or something in Gaza but then they destroyed it the first week they took it back? Sounds like that kind of stuff is what Romney was talking about.

  • Marshall Gill||

    It was a greenhouse operation that I believe grew food. Yep, they trashed the place and it now sits empty.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    1.) Collective punishment is immoral? If person A commits a crime, that doesn't justify punishing person B just because they happen to be the same ethnicity.
    2.) Driving Palestinian farmers off their land because Jewish settlers have decided they want it does nothing to improve security; Israel needs to stop using terrorism as an excuse to justify theft.
    3.) Israel currently claims sovereign dominion over the Palestinian territories. If stopping the rocket launches is so easy, why don't they do it?
    4.) Why are Palestinians who have not been convicted of any crime being confied to specific areas, denied the franchise, right to free speech, etc. solely on the basis of their ethnic heritage?

    Militant groups in the Palestinian areas are certainly a probelm that Israel has a right to do something about, but too often Israel has used terrorism as an excuse for authoritarianism that deserves to be condemned. We need to get beyond this Israel good, Palestine Authority bad, narrative, when they're both pretty execrable.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...there is an Israeli occupation.

    Palestinian culture bears some responsibility for this.

  • The Derider||

    Does Pakistani/Afghani/Yemeni culture bear some responsibility for drone strikes on suspected Al-Qaeda members?

  • WTF||

    Although culture plays an important role in economic development, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee overlooked another key variable: government.

    You say this as though the two are not somewhat related.

  • Brutus||

    My thought exactly. When you vote in Hamas, don't expect a Whig governance.

  • Drake||

    Romney and Sullum are both half right. Culture AND government are both key ingredients for prosperity. What Sullum misses is that no culture worth a damn would tolerate the shit that is the Palestinian Authority.

    No decent culture would not only embrace the strain of martyrdom that runs through Islam, but bring it to a higher level. They have allowed generations to live and die in squalid refuge camps, just to prove the Israelis are bad. Loserdom is the Palestinian culture and it is reflected in their government.

  • ||

    ^THIS^, ^THIS^, ^THIS^, and ^THIS^

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Culture matters, but these examples demonstrate that institutions are crucial.

    Well, no, really they don't.

    The institutions are often reflections of culture, right?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Stop blaming the poor Palestinians you racist! Which Jewish magnate is paying you to post here?!

  • WTF||

    Which Jewish magnate is paying you to post here?!

    Are the Kochs Jewish? I forget.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The don't want to put all their resources and effort into missiles and suicide bombers but the joooooooooooooooos make them.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The don't want to put all their resources and effort into missiles and suicide bombers but the joooooooooooooooos make them

    Do you blame them? According to Tulpa, the mere sight of Jews is equal to viewing a public sex act.

    BUT DON'T YOU DARE CALL HIM AN ANTI-SEMITE!

  • WTF||

    Holy shit! I missed that one; Tulpa really took teh stupid to the next level.

  • SugarFree||

    Don't worry. I'll be there to make sure he and everyone else remembers that forever.

  • T||

    The things I miss when I go home and eat dinner.

  • ||

    Yikes. I never got the full-on Tulpa hate but yeah... he might want to consider walking back that one.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick - that is legendarily stupid.

  • SugarFree||

    And remember... as an avowed enemy of glib, there's no way Tulpa was joking. He doesn't joke around on Hit+Run. Hit+Run is supposed to be super-cereal business.

  • Restoras||

    Super-cereal. Is that like Cap'n Crunch super, or something else?

  • SugarFree||

    It's a reference to South Park, a television program on the cable channel Comedy Central. The program follows the often-outlandish adventures of four poorly animated boys as they deal with the tribulations of childhood in modern America.

  • ||

    I always spelled it "super-serial" in my head. But, points for the cordial and thorough description. You could have added a brief explanation of the concept of television broadcasting, but I am a picky judge. 9.5/10

  • WTF||

    Culture matters, but these examples demonstrate that institutions are crucial.

    That intifada - you didn't build that.

  • Brutus||

    Intifadas, plural. The second one was after Arafat turned down something like 95% of what the Palestinians claim they want. I was a critic of Bill Clinton, but he did good work on that, and Arafat fucked him.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    So we've collectively determined that the Israelis are inherently superior to the dirty Palestinians. Why do they need our money to keep that gutter trash down? They obviously are the only people who deserve to live in that piece of shit desert, so why should Americans have to give a shit (and billions) about it?

  • WTF||

    We shouldn't be giving money to the Israelis, or the Palestinians, or anyone else, for that matter.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Damn right.

  • R C Dean||

    So we've collectively determined that the Israelis are inherently superior to the dirty Palestinians.

    No, we think Israeli culture and institutions are superior to Palestinian culture and institutions.

    There's a difference, you know.

  • ||

    cultural capital - israel has it

  • mr simple||

    What everyone else said about the connections of government and culture +

    One interpretation of these data—the one Erekat clearly had in mind when he called Romney's remarks "racist"—is that Arabs are lazy, while Jews are good with money.

    That's a lazy interpretation and one only made by progressive, pc victim mongers.

  • WTF||

    Wait, you mean Jews are not good with money?!

  • mr simple||

    Not my stock broker, Saul. He only brought me a 5% return this year. And Morty, my accountant, says he's having trouble finding overseas banks that can hide all my money from the IRS. Does that sound like good with money?

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Since I base all my racial stereotypes on anecdotes: my ex and her spendthrift family prove that jews can't be trusted with money and should be exiled to a desert without consumer goods.

  • ||

    The stereotype applies to Jewish men. FFS get your racist/cultural/misogynistic stereotypes right.

  • ||

    stereotype or not, as t sowell points out in ethnic america, when it comes to income and education, jews are a model minority.

    they earn substantially more, on average, than nonjews

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It is a lazy interpretation and devoid of cultural awareness. In Palestinian culture, "racist" just means something they don't like. For example, the President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee asserts that it's racist to memorialize the Israeli athletes who were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist during the '72 Olympics.

  • Brutus||

    The head of romaine lettuce I just bought is racist. So are my cat, my toothpaste and the gas I put in my car last night.

    Makes just as much sense.

  • Drake||

    Ask any American Soldier, Marine, or businessman who has tried to train Arab soldiers or employees if they are lazy. The answer will depend on how honest he feels he can be.

    Working with them you quickly learn the term "Insha'Allah" (God wills it). If the God wills it - the bullet will hit the target, the truck will run, and no mines will explode. Actually training, aiming the rifle, changing the oil, and sweeping for mines would be an insult to God and demonstrate a lack of faith.

    The Turks and Kurds I've met don't seem to take it to the extreme that Arabs do.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Some good (14th DIV CDR had gone to our Staff College and the Australian one and actually learned!)- many not so good (their logistics people were plagued with thieves and banditti).

    Insha'allah is supposed to be invoked as more of a "we will try and with God's assistance we will succeed" - but when you see an Iraqi soldier use the following method - level weapon in general direction of enemy, depress trigger until magazine is empty and, insha'allah, his enemy will fall....maybe it has morphed into "bahala nala" or "manyana" or "you seem to have mistaken me for someone who gives a fuck" (ht PJ O'Rourke for the last three).

  • ||

    Palestinian leaders were understandably insulted when Mitt Romney....pointed out the obvious.

    There, fixed.

    Night Elf also pointed out the obvious; that institutions (govt and otherwise) are reflections of the culture that produced them. I remember back when Arafat had a chance to form a palestinian government. It was chaos. They could not and would not provide even the most basic services; power, police, water etc.. They think governing means thugs lording over the population with an iron fist and stealing everything they can get their hands on. Providing services does not enter into it for them. When I read about how things were turniing out I just said "fuck the palestinians" and stopped paying attention.

  • WTF||

    Yeah, Romney committed the very definition of a political gaffe: he pointed out the truth.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    They think governing means thugs lording over the population with an iron fist and stealing everything they can get their hands on.

    Is not this the very definition of government? It does seem to be a pattern of all governments, to one extent or another.

  • ||

    It's not purely a reflection of Palestinian culture.

    The occupation is an institution, which is a reflection of Israeli culture.

    The point that Palestianians are not free to move about and trade with foreign nations is valid. They also effectively don't have property rights to land, since the Israelis can take it any time they want, so they have no collaterol to borrow against.

    I'm not letting Palestinians off the hook. A corrupt government, a culture that cares more about hurting one's enemies than helping oneself, an oppressive system of religious intolerance, all are factors that undercut Palestinian economic development. I'm just saying that there ARE other factors.

  • R C Dean||

    The occupation is an institution, which is a reflection of Israeli culture.

    I suppose. Although I have a hard time criticizing an institution that grew out of the need for self-defense against a neighboring tribe.

    I'm pretty sure there's no occupation. I thought I saw there are no Israeli soldiers posted in Palestinion territory. Could be wrong on that one.

    Does anyone believe the Israelis would be so mean to the Palis if the Palis didn't kill Israelis every chance they got?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Does anyone believe the Israelis would be so mean to the Palis if the Palis didn't kill Israelis every chance they got?

    Yeah, kind of reminds me of a quip I've tossed out at least once or twice - If the Israelis stopped fighting, they'd get slaughtered. If the Palestinians stopped fighting, they'd get a country.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    In fact, oppressive, arbitrary government changes culture, making these traits less valuable and therefore less common.

    So you don't actually disagree with Romney but have to try anyway?

  • Lord Humungus||

    if this is a gaffe, I hope Romney has plenty more.

  • wareagle||

    malicious truths are the new gaffes.

  • The Derider||

    Malicious truths have always been considered gaffes in international diplomacy.

    You don't get very far by insulting the people you want to make agreements with--even if those insults are based in fact.

  • Bean Counter||

    I really don't think the Palestinian government officials would have been much happier with Sullum's comments either. "Oh, OK, that's better - it's not our culture, it's our kleptocratic government, our squashing of basic property rights and our insistence on destroying Israel at the cost of building a prosperous life for our children. Thanks, Jake, we'll get right on that!"

  • WTF||

    You don't get it, do you? We're all supposed to pretend that all cultures are equally valid, and any differences in outcomes are just pure luck and happenstance.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Except for those Chikfila culture - THAT'S a culture of Hate.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Correct! You have graduated from ____________ [insert average American School Name] with highest honors!

  • Robert S||

    You forgot privilege.

  • Sarah||

    It's already been said, but: Maybe it would have been more politically astute and productive for Romney to have answered the question with references to government institutions. But those institutions exist (or don't exist) as a reflection of our cultural values. Israel and the West value equality before the law, due process, property rights, freedom of religion, protection for speech, etc. Our government institutions reflect those values, and immigrants from Arab countries come here and thrive because they have determined that this type of society is better.

    But you cannot remove government institutions from a society with values to the contrary and thereby solve its problems. They will simply build new institutions that reflect their existing values. We have seen this in Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt. If a significant portion of the population believes that apostasy is a crime that should be punishable by death or that women should not go out in public without a male relative lest she get raped and thereby necessitate being stoned to death -- then the problem is the culture. The government institutions will change when cultural changes demand as much.

  • T||

    Yugoslavia provides a perfect example. Tito kept the quarrelsome natives in line by being a bigger bastard then they were, but he never did successfully change the underlying culture(s). As soon as he died, the underlying culture came right back up and they started slaughtering each other again.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    OT: O frabjous day! Gore Vidal is dead; William Buckley is looking down on him from Heaven as Vidal is impaled on a burning hot iron pillar in Hell.

    Also, Sherlyn Chopra will be butt nekkid for Playboy.

  • Brett L||

    Lover's Quarrel between Vidal and Buckley.

  • Brutus||

    Impaled? See, Gore, Hell ain't as bad as all that.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    Alright, fine.

    More importantly Romney, WTF are you doing in Israel. Get your ass back stateside and run a campaign.

  • ||

    This trip had nothing to do with politics or foreign policy and was merely a cover for raising money for his campaign. "Gaffes" aside, this trip abroad was a success for him and anything "stupid" he or his staffers may have said will have no negative impact on voters here at home.

  • Drake||

    Didn't Obama make the same trip 4 years ago? I remember something about his stupid Brandenburg Gate speech and Germans going crazy for some reason.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    He did, Drake, and *that* trip "had nothing to do with politics or foreign policy and was merely a cover for raising money for his campaign", as well.

    It's what politicians do.

  • ||

    In a political environment where libertarians are so often equated to anarchists, points like this bear repeating.

    Libertarians aren't necessarily against regulation - if by regulation you mean "having rules". What we want, rather, is a particular kind of regulation. A system where the state's role is as an impartial referee, rather than as head coach or quarterback.

    The role of government is to establish simple, minimal, uniform rules, enforce them equally, and otherwise refrain from interfering to affect the outcome. That includes basic services like courts to protect people's rights and enforce the laws uniformly. It does not include handing out money to the political supporters of the state, under the guise of "infratructure improvement", which is all too often the case with the Palestinian authority.

    I'm not going to discount culture completely, but the rules are not uniform for Israeli's and Palestinians. Israelis can move and trade freely, Palestinians cannot. Palestianians are subject to a different government, which is much more corrupt, and therefore does not uniformly enforce the laws. A system where some people can routinely avoid the laws by bribing the police and other people cannot does not meet minimum standards for the rule of law.

  • ||

    Likewise, if you are subject to having your property seized by neighboring Israelis then you don't have property rights either. No bank in the world would give a Palestinian credit with disputed land as collateral. That reduces the capitol available to Palestinians who might try to start a business, even if he can bribe the right authorities to get permission.

    Americans are blessed by have in a court system and common law tradition where these principles are firmly entrenched. It is difficult to imagine how hard it would be to raise one's living standards without property rights, contract enforcement, or equal justice in the courts, and it's easy to see how the lack of the same would lead to gross inequality in favor of a few entrenched interests. Which is pretty much the status quo in much of the world.

  • ||

    Preach to the masses. The choir is already behind you.

  • ||

    Do you think if posted this on Kos or reddit, it would survive the echo chamber for 5 minutes?

  • Brutus||

    I think there's something to this, but it doesn't address the reason land in Gaza and West Bank are subject to Israeli seizure: The unending war the Palestinians are waging on Israel.

    Gaza is on the fucking Mediterranean, for Gaia's sake. The Palis could turn that squalid little strip into a damn resort if they'd just put away the rocket launchers. But they hate the Israelis more than they love life, so they continue to live in poverty.

  • ||

    I think it works both ways.

    Hamas, like the Paestinian Authority, and like many authoritarian regimes, uses the war against Israel as a distraction from their vown corruption and abuse.

    But if the economy improved the Palestinians would have less reason to hate Israel, and they would have better things to do than launch rockets.

    I suspect that most Palestinians would prefer to run a resort rather than fight Israel. But with their fucked up government, running a resort or even a hot-dog stand isn't an option.

    It's sort of a catch 22, because if Hamas actually did reform and establish fair property rights and courts (fat chance) the Palestinians would have better things to do than launch rockets.

  • Tim||

    Absolutely.

  • Tim||

    This site is loading sloooowly this morning.

  • SugarFree||

    It's because you broke your mother's heart.

  • Tim||

    I've just always been attracted to musical theater.

  • SugarFree||

    I saw you do Maria in your 2006 production of West Side Story. I was moved to tears. You really were that poor girl.

  • Tim||

    That empty seat down front, that was for mother...

  • ||

    Tim, DO NOT ENGAGE ANY FURTHER WITH SUGARFREE!! He will offer you a role in the revival of Oklahoma, but his casting couch will leave you broken, bleeding, and singing an octave higher. Trust me on this

  • SugarFree||

    It's not a surrey, that's not actually what fringe is, and it certainly isn't on the top.

  • Tim||

    In the lamplight
    The withered leaves collect at my feet
    And the wind begins to moan

  • T||

    You left out walking funny.

  • Brutus||

    If he auditions for the role of Jud, he might get to be the "top."

  • wareagle||

    what exactly was "controversial" and how the hell are Palestinians "understandably insulted" by Romney's uttering of malicious truths? That's twice in two days now that Reason has adopted Dem talking points, the other instance being the alleged gaffes on this tour.

    Like teh left, Reason seems reluctant to hold Arabs responsible for their largely self-inflicted condition. Offer after offer of peace has been rejected. When free elections were set up, they voted in Hamas. Sorry, but these folks are not deserving of sympathy; they have made a choice to go down a certain road and that road leads to a predictable end.

  • $park¥||

    Wait, what? reason is shilling for the left now? That's it, cancel my subscription.

  • RBS||

    Just not Team Red enough for wareagle, who apparently can't read either since most of the article was about the economic woes of Palestine being largely self inflicted.

  • wareagle||

    doesn't have anything to do with Red. When you start with the concept that someone said 'controversial' things that left people 'justifiably' upset, kinda seems the rest of the article should support your thesis. I read it; all the supporting facts backed up what was said. When your initial declarations and conclusion are wildly at odds, do you think no one will notice?

  • wareagle||

    when you pick questionable talking points to parrot, that's a possibility. Romney is a bad guy for stating the obvious? And what were the "gaffes" on this trip?

    I expect criticism here to be beyond the junior high food fight level.

  • RBS||

    Sullum never said Romney was a bad guy for stating the obvious or the Romney was wrong. His argument is that Romney left out a giant chunk of the reason Palestine is such a hell hole.

  • wareagle||

    fair enough...then make that the whole point. Regardless, nothing controversial was said.

  • West Texas||

    while South Korea's is about 18 times North Korea's.

    I'm too lazy to review the methodology, but why isn't this more like 100 or 1000 times? Do they count black market GDP as well? Counterfeiting? I can't believe the Norks are even $1700... that just feels really high.

  • SIV||

    If only the huge expat population of educated, wealthy, and relatively secular Palestinians would consider returning to their homeland they could effect some positive change.What's keeping them away?

  • John||

    Hamas and Fatah for a start. Even if the Israelis did everything the world asked of them, Gaza and the West Bank would still be ruled by those two factions. And no one in their right mind would return to that.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    My suspicion is that they would ask you someothing to the effect of "Why the hell would I want to go live in that shithole?"

  • John||

    the government is a reflection of your culture. The relationship goes both ways. Yes, government can fuck up the culture. But the culture can fuck up the government. The Egyptians had their chance last year at democracy and freedom and they used that chance to turn the place into an Islamist hell hole. That is culture destroying government.

  • wareagle||

    who actually thought that the Egyptian elections were going to turn out different from the way they did? The Administration sold the Arab Spring line to a stupid public.

    If the likely outcome of the election was not known to Camp Obama, it is incompetent at an unprecedented level. If the outcome was known, then it's just malevolent.

  • RBS||

    Yeah, seems like anyone who pays even minimal attention to the region should have seen this coming. Incompetent or malevolent? I vote both.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    If the likely outcome of the election was not known to Camp Obama, it is incompetent at an unprecedented level. If the outcome was known, then it's just malevolent.

    What should they have done? Intervene in Egypt's election?

  • wareagle||

    stayed out of the whole thing from the start, to include the "Mubarak must go" pronouncements. Instead, they pushed the Arab Spring theme as if Jeffersonian Demoncracy was about to sprout in a place that has never known it.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Just checking. But you know the US GOV is pathologically incapable of staying out of others peoples business.

  • A Frayed Knot||

    Jesse Walker for one.

  • John||

    And lets not forget the Palestinians have received countless billions in aid from the world. And nearly all of that has been stolen by their leaders. It wasn't Israel who stole that aid.

  • ||

    I'm sure some of that had to be used to grease some palms at the UN.

  • Mike M.||

    The real question is what can we do about these cultural barriers to getting the Morning Links put up on time?

  • Lord Humungus||

    apparently a new updated site = more hangovers for our respected hosts.

  • John||

    Libertarians have a cultural bias against rules and timeliness.

  • RBS||

    I have it doubly bad. I'm a libertarian that grew up in a southern beach town.

  • wareagle||

    I live in a southern beach town, for now. The rules are whatever folks say teh rules are for that day.

  • ||

    Perhaps Welch should ask the Managing Editor, News Aggregation, to stop writing novels and aggregate some news for us

  • robc||

    After the Mexican War, people living in Alta California and New Mexico were American Citizens (with the exception of native Americans). If Israel had done the same thing in 1948, they might have avoided lots of problems.

  • wareagle||

    as it is, aren't the Arabs in Israel the most free Arabs on the planet? I am curious, though - would Arabs actually want to Israeli citizens? Interesting dynamic - your people want this other group of people dead but you are a citizen of that targeted group.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If Israel had done the same thing in 1948,

    Ummm...they did. That's what my cousin Jamal is an Muslim Arab citizen of Israel. However, many Palestinians figured that Israel was doomed, so they figured a few years stay in a refugee camp was better than being seen as a 'collaborator'.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    *why

  • robc||

    I dont think so. My understanding is that those in the captured territories arent citizens.

    If they were, the Knisset would be about 49% Arab.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And the better part of 65 years later they're still sitting in the same refugee camps. At what point do you stop being a refugee camp and just become a town?

  • ||

    israel has bent over backwards for those fucksticks, whose general response is lobbing bombs and shit

    get real. it's offered so many olive branches, concessions, etc. it's ridiculous

    the people israel offers this stuff too generally don't even acknowledge that israel exists, or that it has a right to, and would be perfectly happy to wipe to wipe every israeli off the face of the earth

  • John||

    There are only four million people who live in the occupied territories. The US Europe and South America could absorb that population no problem. An every Palestinian just wants a visa to get out of the place. That really is the solution. Just get the developed world together and grant four million Visas to various developed countries. The place would empty out in a week.

  • T||

    Well, it would only leave the dead-enders. And the Israelis have proven they know how to deal with that particular strain of stupidity.

  • Mainer2||

    The distinction of Economic Freedom as something separate sidetracks the real argument. You can denigrate someone who is merely concerned about money. If only Mitt was the guy to connect the dots for people that freedom is freedom, and that your ability to prosper is just as important as who you can marry.

  • Loki||

    Maybe Romney should have said, "Freedom makes all the difference."

    Maybe Romney shouldn't be an idiot who puts his foot in his mouth. Also, for Romney to have said anything even remotely approaching the central thesis of this article, he'd have to believe in freedom and limited government, which he doesn't. So it's only natural that he wouldn't say that.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    You mean like this?:

    "Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.

    We both believe in democracy, in the right of every people to select their leaders and choose their nation’s course.

    We both believe in the rule of law, knowing that in its absence, willful men may incline to oppress the weak.

    We both believe that our rights are universal, granted not by government but by our Creator.

    We both believe in free enterprise, because it is the only economic system that has lifted people from poverty, created a large and enduring middle class, and inaugurated incomparable achievements and human flourishing."

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2012.....tion-2012/

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Like that?:

    "The United States and Israel have shown that we can build strong economies and strong militaries. But we must also build strong arguments that advance our values and promote peace. We must work together to change hearts and awaken minds through the power of freedom, free enterprise and human rights."

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So... where are Palestinians from, originally?

  • robc||

    The Harris papyrus can be interpreted in two ways: either the captives were settled in Egypt and the rest of the Philistines/Sea Peoples carved out a territory for themselves in Canaan, or else it was Ramses himself who settled the Sea Peoples (mainly Philistines) in Canaan as mercenaries.

    The connection between Mycenaean culture and Philistine culture was made clearer by finds at the excavation of Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon, and more recently Gath, four of the five Philistine cities in Canaan. The fifth city is Gaza. Especially notable is the early Philistine pottery, a locally made version of the Aegean Mycenaean Late Helladic IIIC pottery, which is decorated in shades of brown and black.

    Apparently Greece.

  • robc||

    Although, I guess "originally", Africa.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Palestinian leaders were understandably insulted when Mitt Romney, noting the huge gap in wealth between Israel and the West Bank during a speech in Jerusalem on Monday"

    "And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States."

    And the Chileans, Ecuadorians, and Mexicans are understandably upset also.

  • robc||

    Why would Chile be upset?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    You're right Chile is sending Romney a check.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "And in this book Mr. Landis describes differences that have existed...He says this, he says, if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.

    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."

    "Palestinian leaders were understandably insulted when Mitt Romney, noting the huge gap in wealth between Israel and the West Bank during a speech in Jerusalem on Monday, declared..."

    I'm beginning to think the writers here don't bother to read anything they publish in context.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Maybe Romney should have said, 'Freedom makes all the difference.'"

    Because it's not what David Landes said?

    “if we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference.” - David Landes

    Maybe you should write an article about what David Landes should have said

  • ||

    it's also a theme thomas sowell continuously and brilliantly brings home, with metric assloads of data to back up his arguments

  • BenDFW||

    Whoever is running the gay agenda is failing miserably at politics. Couldn't even get California to approve gay marriage! That, along with this outcry of People who support traditional marriage only, those who support free markets and think that mayors shouldn't even joke about abusing their power to keep businesses out of their city for disagreeing with their politics, and those who for no other reason went to Chick-Fil-A wondering why it was so busy today. This should be a clear example of how bad that they are failing.

  • BenDFW||

    Obama will go down as the president who single handedly saved America from its own spending problems and debt by making it so obvious that spending cuts need to be done and that government has grown too much. He has made it obvious and the voting public has been energized. He is this generation's James Buchanan.

  • Orlando Remodeling||

    It is really important for to have our own freedom. Having it, we can really do want we do want.

  • ||

    i ate at aladdin gyro-cery today in the u district. good hole in the wall joint for gyros, falafel, etc.

    but when you walk in the door, you are inundated with pro-palestinian stuff and anti-israel stuff - posters, bulletins, etc.

    one thing i am confident of if that a mirror image restaurant existed in the U district, "tolerant liberals" would vandalize the fuck out of it within days,

    i wouldn't be surprised if the owners just put the stuff up to get sympathy cred from dumb propalestinian college kids

  • nike free run||

    The government does have a very good role

  • Orlando Air Conditioning||

    It is really a big deal for us if we could have freedom. We do ever what we want to unless it is not against on the rule.

  • Orlando Air Conditioning||

    It is really a big deal for us if we could have freedom. We do ever what we want to unless it is not against on the rule.

  • Orlando Painting||

    The importance of free speech as a basic and valuable characteristic of western society cannot be underestimated.

  • Ardelle||

    When he says "the driving force" of economic progress during the last millennium "has been Western civilization and its dissemination," he is referring not just to cultural values such as thrift, competition, gender equality, and the Protestant work ethic but also to the political values that keep the state from smothering creative effort.

  • Chattanooga Roofing||

    It is really important to anyone of us to have freedom. Through it, we could speak out what we want.

  • Chattanooga Painting||

    Freedom is very necessary thing for us to have. It teaches us on how we could by our own.

  • jason||

    Its for sure that if some one praise the Israel the arab leaders are not happy with them, Mitt Romney did this because of some jew votes.

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