For Palestinians, Don't Blame Culture

If you see an economy burdened by bureaucrats, suffocating controls and arbitrary delays, you can assume it will grow slowly or not at all.

If you see an economy burdened with the heavy hand of bureaucrats, suffocating controls and arbitrary delays, you can assume it will grow slowly or not at all. You can also expect that Republicans, with ample justification, will blame the government for stifling productive activity.

But Mitt Romney can surprise you. Speaking in Jerusalem, he noted how much richer Israel is than "the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority," and he fingered a different cause. "Culture makes all the difference," he said.

Romney is not the first person to compare and explain Israel's economic performance over time with other places. The immortal economist Milton Friedman -- who would have been 100 years old this week -- did so back in the 1990s. But he wasn't complimenting the Israelis, and he didn't ascribe the difference to culture. He blamed it on bad government.

His comparison was between Israel and Hong Kong: two small places that after World War II were inundated by refugees who, as he put it, were "reputed to be intelligent and commercially able." Israel had more land and superior natural resources, Friedman noted, "yet from 1960 to 1996, its average per capita income went from 60 percent more than Hong Kong's to 40 percent less."

How come? Not, as you might think, because of Israel's higher defense costs, which he noted were financed mostly by foreign governments and contributions from Jews elsewhere. The key factor, he wrote, was that Hong Kong's government never spent more than 15 percent of its national income, while "government spending in Israel was at times close to 100 percent of national income."

Government budgets were not the only factor. Israel's economy was built on an old-fashioned socialist model, while Hong Kong practiced laissez-faire.

Israel has moved away from socialism in recent years, but the gap persists. Today, the CIA says, per capita income in Hong Kong is nearly $50,000 a year, compared to $31,400 in Israel. It's hard to pin the gap on culture: In the United States, after all, Jews and Chinese-Americans both enjoy higher than average incomes. Friedman's analysis makes more sense.

It also applies to the Palestinians' plight. When Romney referred to "the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority," he skipped over the fact that these areas are under substantial Israeli control -- and have been for decades. He also ignored the ways in which that control has strangled the Palestinians' material progress.

The 2012 CIA World Factbook says, "Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labor and trade flows, industrial capacity and basic commerce, eroding the productive capacity of the West Bank economy."

Writes Bernard Avishai, a business professor at Hebrew University, "Try growing a supermarket chain when your just-in-time logistics system has to deal with 600 roadblocks." These are just part of what Palestinian entrepreneurs have to overcome.

Israelis, and Romney, may say all this is entirely the fault of the Palestinians for not making peace. But that's a separate issue. Given the many obstacles that have been erected, blaming the Palestinian culture is a stretch. Even the most business-friendly culture can't create prosperity where governments won't let it.

Hong Kong, again, offers proof. Culturally, it was similar to the rest of China. But under communist dictator Mao Zedong, the people of China endured catastrophic famines and economic chaos -- while those in Hong Kong, blessed with a free-market framework, ascended to prosperity.

It's not just Hong Kong that has surpassed Israel. Ireland, once considerably poorer, now has a far higher per capita income. The Irish, it's fair to say, were not previously famous for their go-getting capitalist fervor.

Attributing the Palestinian stagnation to a malignant culture breeds a dangerous complacency by suggesting Israel has no capacity to help. It casts a bad light on all Palestinians, including the ambitious and hardworking. It encourages the smug assumption that some fatal flaw in Arabs or Muslims dooms their countries to failure.

It should be obvious that without economic freedom, we'll never know what they can do. Recognizing the crucial role that official policies play, however, puts the onus on the Israeli government to find ways to liberate the Palestinian economy without sacrificing security.

In assessing the dismal performance of the U.S. economy over the past three and a half years, Romney does not mind informing Americans that policy, not culture, is the problem. Why not let Israelis in on the secret?

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    America's culture of allowing and sometimes embracing an increasingly oppressive regulatory environment is the cause of our economic woes.

  • flye||

    Gaffe!

  • JoshSN||

    Does China have a government following the principles of libertarianism? Is that why their economy is doing so great? Should the Republican Party and the libertarians go to China to teach them how bad anti-freedom is for their economy? Will anyone need to translate the gales of laughter they are met with?

    China actually proves that, to make fat stacks, political freedom is completely unnecessary and I honestly feel that libertarianism teaches money is the primary value in society and so is pro-money and pro-dictatorship, in effect.

    It's part of a larger process, which is fueled by libertarian-minded economic policies; that the dramatic increase in wealth inequality teaches the billionaires that they more power, and the plebes that they have less than before. It is only natural the people who have this political asset, repeatedly devalued, wouldn't care too much about losing it.


    If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. -- Sam Adams
  • West Texas||

    Yeah, I'd still argue that it's the Palestinian "culture" that encourages and tolerates bad government. They'd rather praise terrorists and "struggle" than instill an honest government that would improve their economic situation. People eventually get the government that they want.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Yeah, when your culture is such that you'd rather sentence your family to an eternity of abject poverty than recognize an established* state, then it's a cultural problem.

    *whether that state was established legally or morally is moot. It's there.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    ...honest government...

    And in what parallel magical universe is that possible anywhere with any people?

  • West Texas||

    Point taken.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Okay. Can we go with less overwhelmingly predatory and arbitrary?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    As long as you have a datum, you can always make dog shit sound better than horse shit.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    It's full on retard to claim that every government is equally bad.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I'm not claiming they are equally bad. But they are bad, and the word "honest" should never be attributed to any government (let alone groups of people with guns). EVER.

  • ||

    "People eventually get the government that they want."

  • ||

    UGH. Damn squirrels.

    West Texas hit the nail on the head there.

  • wareagle||

    I was going to go with "the govt they deserve" but that may just be semantics.

  • R C Dean||

    Either version is incomplete without "good and hard" at the end.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Recognizing the crucial role that official policies play, however, puts the onus on the Israeli government to find ways to liberate the Palestinian economy without sacrificing security.

    Uh, I think the GoI is operating under the 'Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 1200 times, shame on me' theory.

    It IS a cultural problem, it's never going to be resolved.

  • R C Dean||

    the onus on the Israeli government to find ways to liberate the Palestinian economy without sacrificing security.

    Easy to say. Any ideas, given the Pali's history of bending every resource toward Jew-killin'?

  • Jerry on the road||

    Interestingly enough, both Hong Kong and Israel don't allow you to own land outright.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Does the US?

  • Jerry on the road||

    More so before Kelo than after.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Even before Kelo, you essentially rented your land from the government.

  • robc||

    I think zoning is a bigger restriction on land than property tax.

    Then again, I favor a Single Land Tax (which isnt a property tax, but close enough for those who dont get it).

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Being able to use your property only as the landlord allows is just as much a part of paying rent as the rent payments are.

  • ||

    They came *this* close in North Dakota or wherever.

  • ||

    The immortal economist Milton Friedman

    If by "immortal" you mean "dead", then sure. But that's an obamalevel of doublespeak.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "It casts a bad light on all Palestinians, including the ambitious and hardworking. It encourages the smug assumption that some fatal flaw in Arabs or Muslims dooms their countries to failure."

    No, it doesn't, because if you read the speech, you will find the same comparison made between Ecuador and Chile and the US and Mexico. It isn't a comment about ethnicity.

    "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."

    "I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries – was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries. I read a number of books on the topic..."

    "But then there was a book written by a former Harvard professor named 'The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.' And in this book Mr. Landis(sic)...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.

    ...I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things."

  • Jerry on the road||

    He should have read De Soto's book.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I get the "governmental burden == bad" concept but I don't get the repeated attempts to separate government from culture as if the Palestinian government sprang into being fully formed and just happened to land on the Palestinians.

  • aelhues||

    Something that did land on the Palestinians, was some of the rockets they launched at Israel, that didn't make it.

    I personally don't understand how any right thinking individual can hold Israel responsible for conditions in Palestine. If East St. Louis was chucking rockets at us in St. Louis, and they were sneaking in people, blowing up pizza parlors and sports bars, I'd be pushing for blowing them off the map.

    The Palestinians are lucky to still have the land, and their lives.

  • RBS||

    Because all Palestinians are terrorists right?

  • wareagle||

    no all Palestinians or Muslims are not terrorists, but sure seems that all terrorists are Muslims. At least in that part of the world. How many times do the Arabs turn down offers of a two-state solution before you conclude that they don't want anything that includes 2 states. They are more invested in Israel's destruction than their own survival.

  • Randian||

    Wrong, wareagle. Mohammed Abbas wanted a two-state solution and Obama blocked him.

  • wareagle||

    The question is still valid. Arafat had such a solution dumped in his lap and pissed on it so fast you would have thought he had drunk a whole keg. The scary thing about your statement is it puts Obama in league with Hamas. THAT is not comforting.

  • Randian||

    What question? You made an assertion that the Palestinians don't want a two-state solution. That assertion was wrong, and now you're going back to Arafat? You realize he's not in charge anymore, right? And that the actual leader of the Palestinians, Abbas, asked for a state, right?

  • wareagle||

    the questions starts with "how many times...." And Abbas no more runs the place than does Arafat; Hamas is effectively in control and wants no part of a two-state anything.

    Besides, Abbas wants something based on the '67 borders and he knows full well that the Israelis won't do that.

  • Randian||

    So first it was evidence that the Palestinians weren't interested in peace because of Arafat, and now you are marginalizing his entire role in the process.

    That makes no sense.

    Fatah and Hamas just voted on a unity government for the West Bank and Gaza, so to say that Abbas doesn't run anything also makes no sense.

    Besides, Abbas wants something based on the '67 borders and he knows full well that the Israelis won't do that.

    And why won't they?

  • wareagle||

    they won't agree to those borders for fear of being attacked, as they were when part of Israel was, what, 8 miles wide? And good luck convincing the nice boys at Hamas that Abbas speaks for them re: two states.

    The Arabs don't want anything that allows Israel to exist. Some in their ranks may well be interested in peace but historically, they have been outnumbered. And, I'm not marginalizing Arafat; I am pointing out that he is dead and that Abbas' "power" is as meaningful as Yassar's.

    Being the titular head of something does not necessarily mean you are the decision-maker. If Abbas IS calling all the shots, then he has to explain the periodic rocket attacks and other strikes on Israel.

  • Marshall Gill||

    And why won't they?

    Because it would be suicide.

    Your belief that because Abbas said something it is true makes me think that you believe that Obama doesn't want MJ dispensaries because he claimed it. Actions speak louder than words.

  • aelhues||

    No. Never said they were.

    What do you think will happen if Israel stops fighting back? Will the Palestinians stop launching rockets and blowing up Israeli businesses?

    What do you think would happen if Palestinians stopped? I'd be willing to bet, Israel would leave them alone, and they'd essentially have their own nation.

    With that said, I don't understand why we're sending money over there, to either side.

  • Randian||

    What do you think will happen if Israel stops fighting back? Will the Palestinians stop launching rockets and blowing up Israeli businesses?

    I don't know and neither do you.

    What do you think would happen if Palestinians stopped? I'd be willing to bet, Israel would leave them alone, and they'd essentially have their own nation.

    Except for continuing to build settlements on the West Bank. If you call that "leaving them alone", that's one hell of a twisted definition.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't know and neither do you.

    Nobody knows for certain.

    But if Israel were to throw open its borders, lift the blockade, etc., I know which way I'd bet.

  • Homple||

    Enough of them are; and those who aren't seem not at all anxious to curtail the terrorists.

  • Homple||

    Enough of them are, and those who aren't seem not at all anxious to stop the terrorists.

    [I hope this shows up in the right place this time]

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Well they better get on that holocaust. Millions of people aren't going to die by themselves. That'd be like nuking New Jersey because Newark is such a piece of shit. The last thing Israel needs would be teenaged survivors with an axe to grind, a nutty religious book giving them a reason to die, and an actual hard-to-fault-them for reason for vengeance.

    The fact is the Palestinians lost, and Israel was too fucking stupid to just kick them out which now is politically impossible (internationally speaking). They should have forced a Trail of Tears , which although is goddamned reprehensible in its own right would have been easier back in the 50s-60s than today. In the end, I just don't want my money (most likely a unborn generations' money) going to any of those fucking assholes.

  • robc||

    No, they should have made them equal citizens when they captured the land in 1948.

  • RBS||

    To be fair, he is Drax the Destroyer...

  • robc||

    In 1950, there were 1.20M jews and 1.17M arabs living in the combined Israel/Palestine areas.

    Give them equal voting rights and you get a Knisset that is majority jewish, but just barely.

    If that had been done in 1950, I bet that 62 years later you would have political parties that were mixed race, because they had common goals. There would probably still be a hardcore jewish party and a hardcore palestinian party, but I bet there would be a moderate right mixed party and a moderate left mixed party.

    Or, they would have fell apart and divided into two countries 40 years ago.

  • wareagle||

    how do you have common goals when one side is committed to the destruction of the other? Ethnic strife is not confined to Israel, but the difference is that in most other spots, one side does not seek to kill the other.

  • A Frayed Knot||

    Except that in 1950, the Arabs within what was then Israel were given full voting rights. The West Bank and Gaza strip were under the control of Jordan and Egypt, respectively.

  • Randian||

    Yes, and Israel captured it. If you don't want to rule it in an enlightened manner, then give it back or let it go.

  • TommyT||

    Step back and look at the larger issue. What you're saying denies the 'culture' of the place. The VAST majority of muslims hate Jews. This isn't about land it is about annihilating the Jews.

    There second greatest hatred is the Christian faith due to it's 'polytheism.'

    As they grow almost exponentially both in the region and throughout the west they vervently believe Islam should and will be the dominant Religious/Political power in the world.

    Israel falling or even evacuating will not stop this problem. They will simply be emboldened to press their drive even faster.

    Religion is a very strong driving force and even 'moderate' muslims fervantly believe fervantly in a world ruled by Sharia.

    This will not end...at least for a very long time.

  • Randian||

    Yes, it seems to me that if you treat a good portion of your population like second- or third-class citizens, then Israel shouldn't be surprised when that group acts like it.

    The reason Israel won't naturalize the Muslim outgroup too much is because they outnumber the Jews, and Israel is supposed to be "for Jews". Well, screw that. If you want to be a government, you have to be responsible for the rights of everyone in the geographical area. You don't get to pick and choose because you had a rough time in the 1940s.

  • RBS||

    I hadn't really thought of that before but you make a good point.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I do concur.

  • Pippers||

    Open a history book, PLEASE. The ignorance is intolerable.

  • Rich||

    Cultures that more or less eliminate half the workforce potential would seem to be economically self-hobbling, at least from our standpoint. Of course, those cultures have different, um, values.

  • ||

    The 'Young Turks' pointed that out a hundred years ago. They were hanged or beheaded for their trouble.

  • ||

    I once saw an interview with a palestinian woman who was complaining about the wall in jerusalem. I dont remember what she said verbatim, but in a nutshell she said;

    "The dirty jews live in a fairy land (sneering and contempt dripping from her face) and now they want to keep us out. They must be exterminated."

    I remember being struck by her contempt for economic success, and her blindness to the fact that the israelis built the wall in self defense against intractable murderers like her. Once again, my reaction was; 'fuck the palestinians', and again I stopped paying attention to them. If anything needs to be wiped off of the face of the earth it is their culture.

  • Bradley Strider||

    One Palestinian woman said a thing, therefore they all deserve to be imprisoned and dispossessed. Cool.

  • aelhues||

    So what, he should make his post a thesis paper outlining all of the evidence, or his comment is entirely invalid?

    He was relaying a story, along with his reaction. Your comment may have sounded smart and snarky to you, but to me it just sounded idiotic.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    She wasn't exactly wrong about the Israelis living in a fairy land. Without outside financial support and weapons procurement, in addition to becoming a Cold War proxy for the US, Israel would likely have been destroyed by now.

    Once again, my reaction was; 'fuck the palestinians', and again I stopped paying attention to them. If anything needs to be wiped off of the face of the earth it is their culture.

    A lot of white people said the same thing about Native Americans in the 1800s, and now look where they are at--in most cases, ridiculously dependant wards of the state who largely survive off of government subsidies and casino revenue. Fat lot of good wiping their culture off the face of the earth has done for American taxpayers.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Their culture wasn't wiped off the face of the earth, that's the problem.

    Tattered remnants were left to 'preserve' their culture.

    They should have been entirely subjugated and utterly assimilated.

    They weren't--they've become Museum Fremem.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Talking about government and culture as two independent entities is an absurdity. A government's nature and practices will follow from the culture of those instituting said government and its practices and behaviors will feed back and influence the nature of the culture. That is to say, you can't talk about one without recognizing the other.
    You can point to the Israelis' imposition of checkpoints and roadblocks to your heart's content, and no doubt they do impose a real burden on entrepreneurial activity. But, that leaves a very real question. Surely you're not going to try to suggest that Israeli roadblocks are to blame for the relatively comparable levels of underdevelopment in Egypt? In Syria? In Lebanon? Last I heard, Israel didn't have roadblocks in any of those places.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    But when Palestinians/Muslims/Egyptians/Lebanese/Syrians come to America, they wind up being very successful!

    And since the ones in America HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME "CULTURE" as the ones that stayed over there, it can't be their culture, right?

  • ||

    I am wondering if you are being sarcastic?

    They can do some things well, others not at all. In college I saw a moroccan get an engineering degree in three years. He went through a calculus text book in almost one sitting. But...in the real world he could not find his own ass with a flashlight and a map. He couldnt actually build anything.

    Their mentality is entirely too narrow and rigid.
    I would posit that the ones who come here are the 'extraordinary' individuals from their culture, and are positively influenced by the culture here. That is a formula for success.

    It is also possible that we are both overgeneralizing.

  • RBS||

    I would posit that the ones who come here are the 'extraordinary' individuals from their culture

    This is probably true. Doesn't leave much behind to improve the homeland does it?

  • ||

    Interesting point. There is a similar phenomena with the african american population in the south. After the civil war many of the more ambitious blacks left the south.

    I had thought that for many years, but was shocked when the only person I ever heard actually say it was a black friend of mine who ran a successful business. He was complaining about the quality of employees he had.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    There is a similar phenomena with the african american population in the south. After the civil war many of the more ambitious blacks left the south.

    My left-leaning girlfriend once brought up that the southern states had some of the lowest education rates in the country, while the northeast and California had the highest. I had to point out to her that a big reason for that was because the south still had large concentrations of poor blacks, and that it wasn't just the redneck hayseeds dragging those numbers down.

    The south has never been, culturally, a haven for traditional Puritan values even amongst whites, and it's mind-boggling that many people still don't get this. It's always been more laid-back compared to the North, and its people are going to reflect that.

  • TommyT||

    Its the heat....we need to siesta. Think the same things true in Europe...compare the mediteranean basin to northern Europe.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    For the record, I was being sarcastic.

  • ||

    I thought so.

  • wareagle||

    I would say the ones who come here know full well what they are leaving behind and want no part of it.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And since the ones in America HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME "CULTURE" as the ones that stayed over there....


    That "EXACTLY THE SAME "CULTURE"" isn't at all clear to me. Their culture may be heavily influenced by the culture of their homelands. But, if you've left your homeland to move to a completely alien civilization (as I suspect the U.S. is for many middle easterners), it seems more likely than not you've at least partly rejected its culture. Whatsmore, even if you haven't, you're now going to be living and working within the context of a completely different culture. That, in turn changes whatever cultural make-up you're going to be bringing to the table.

  • R C Dean||

    And since the ones in America HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME "CULTURE" as the ones that stayed over there,

    Do they? They left for a reason, after all.

    And, how long until they start absorbing American culture?

  • ||

    I dont remember who here articulated something that had been floating around in the back of my mind for a while, but it certainly clarified things for me.

    Tyranny doesnt need wealth creation or economic success. In fact, those are the enemies of tyranny as they allow for a wider distribution of wealth and thus empowerment of more people. Tyrannies must deliberately hobble the economy to keep power concentrated. This explains the contempt that chavez and his culture have towards golf courses, palestinians have for the jewish 'fairy land' , the left has for citizens united, Tony's contempt for 'the rich', and obama's contempt for capitalism.....I could go on all day with examples. This also explains why tyrants always resort to the politics of envy; to destroy economies, sack the rich etc. and keep power concentrated.

    What a despicable philosophy. Whether they realize it or not, it is pure evil.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    It's not evil when it's for your own good. They're doing it for you. Why won't you just accept their generosity.

    Why do you have to ruin things for everyone, Suthenboy.

  • ||

    Heh, I am just a shithead like that.

  • Rich||

    Perhaps it's a cultural thing.

  • John||

    Steve,

    The Egyptians threw off their chains. How is that working out? Freedom is only good if you use it.

  • kwais||

    They are trying John, they are trying.
    They still have an oppressive military, and the forces of (somewhat) liberty are fighting both the military and the Islamic brotherhood.
    An uphill battle for sure.

  • Rasilio||

    As several others have noted, you really cannot seperate the culture from the government too much.

    Sure Israel has made it hard on the Palestinians and that would definately show up in lower per capita GDP's in Palestinian areas of Israel, but tell me, how does the Palestinian population of Jordan (nearly 1/3rd of the entire population of Jordan) or Syria (5% of the population) fare compared to Israel?

    The fact is that the overwhelming majority of the middle east comes from cultures that welcome and embrace despotic rule, they literally do not want or recognize the value of democratic forms of government, partially because of their religion and it's overly hierarchical structure and partly because a significant majority of them are still living in tribal structures where a mans worth is measured by the power of the warlord he is attached to (or if he is a warlord himself how many followers he has).

    Anyone who believes that the Palestinian people will all of a sudden create a free market utopia the instant the Israeli boot is off their neck is living in a dream world. They will quite clearly implement a government that is indistinguishable from other middle eastern governments in places like Syria, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia.

  • John||

    Compare Palistine to South Korean. South Korea was the victim of 30 years of brutal Japanese colonialism and then got a war that leveled the entire country and killed a quarter of the population as a reward. In 1953 South Korea was poorer than Haiti and had a thoroughly horrible right wing dictatorship. And where is South Korea now?

    Culture matters.

  • The Derider||

    Significant western development aid to thwart the growth of communism helps, too.

  • ||

    Islam does not have a hierarchical structure. There is no Pope or organized Islamic "church". Just about anyone can declare themselves an Imam and start preaching.

    IMO, the problem is really that Muslims are far too literal in their interpretation of the Koran. That and the Korna has all sorts of stupid political and economic policy embedded in it.

  • John||

    It encourages the smug assumption that some fatal flaw in Arabs or Muslims dooms their countries to failure.

    How could anyone think that a culture that treats women as baby making machines and deprives itself of their labors and imposes a theocracy might not be able to compete in the modern economy?

    What if the US adopted laws similar to Saudi Arabia or the ones being put forth by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Steve? Do you think it would help or hurt our economic competitiveness?

  • wareagle||

    Steve seems like a subscriber to moral relativism newsletter and its tenets that no culture is better than any other, no way of thinking is more likely to yield good (or bad) outcomes than any other, and who are we smug, rich, westerners to judge.

  • RBS||

    Which is of course bullshit, unless you bury your head in the sand and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

  • wareagle||

    and that brings us back to Chapman's article.

  • West Texas||

    You could also say that the change in U.S. government over the past 100 years (or the past 10 years) is reflective of changing American culture as well.

  • aelhues||

    True. Once we seemed to be a culture who valued hard work, self reliance, and helping out your neighbor. Now we seem to be a culture who values quick and easy roads to success, as long as it isn't too much success (unless you happen to be a celeb), and handing any concern for ones neighbor to the government.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Yes, and it feeds back on the culture, as well. The culture becomes one that demands a bigger role for Uncle Sugardaddy. That larger government creates dependency and diminished responsibility within the culture. Rinse and repeat.

  • ||

    See France and Greece for examples of the next stage for us if we don't lynch the slavemakers soon enough.

  • ||

    That's precisely it.
    Our culture has changes and become less self-reliant, less responsible, and more dependent, because of the welfare state.
    And people who are dependent are not free. You cannot be free if you depend on others, especially the state, for your life.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I hate to pick a nit and I know you qualify it significantly, but I want to avoid misinterpretation. You can be very much dependent on others and still be free. An honest man (or woman) living his life depends on millions of people acting in their own rational self-interest every day. And they depend on him or her. Their loss would impose a hardship. The real question is whether it is one they could or would bear.
    I mean, honestly, libertarians tend to celebrate the market (at least I do), but there's another player that ever-expansive government drowns out - independent civil society. In largely free societies, civil society flourishes (consider the examples shown by de Tocqueville). We humans are a much more generous and good-spirited animal than we give ourselves credit for. The spirit of self-reliance and achievement actually tends to encourage us to want to provide for others.
    Have you just ever had one of those days when you've just nailed everything? How do you feel? By and large, I've seen that people want to reward the world, to share that feeling of exhileration.
    I don't know. Maybe I'm misdefining independent.

  • Pi||

    If we accept the culture --- government feedback loop, it makes me wonder whether a better option for libertarians might be to focus on winning more converts before we start going for (national) elections.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Probably. It probably also means we should stop worrying about "I'm more libertarian than thou" and start accepting baby steps as a legitimate means to achieving a free society. If libertarians could you that feedback loop in their favor, they'd be a lot more successful.

  • Stevie the K||

    "Israelis, and Romney, may say all this is entirely the fault of the Palestinians for not making peace. But that's a separate issue."

    No, it's the entire issue. If you posit that the Palestinians themselves, are an industrious people, then where has their industry been focused? Your entire thesis ignores the fact that the various Palestinian "governments" have never been much more than groups of corrupt mafiosi taking advantage of the chaos to enrich themselves on foreign aid and misplaced international pathos, while enabling the suffering of their own charges; knowing full well that many in the international community will place the blame on the Israelis who, naturally, will put their own interests ahead of those who daily swear for their destruction.

    Would that those representing the interests of the Palestinians want to put aside the culture of hate and victimhood, not only would they enjoy almost immediate improvement in their logistical challenges, but likely enjoy the benefits of Israel's booming economy, in which they could play a significant role.

  • T o n y||

    You can be a libertarian and not be a racist idiot, I think.

    The counterpoint to Romney's ridiculous statement is that there such a large disparity in economic outcomes between Israel and Palestine because the former has a near-total blockade on the latter.

    Israel apologists will, of course, call this blockade a "security measure" that stems from a Palestinian culture of terrorism. Of course this transparently racist formulation gets things backward. Desperate people resort to terrorism.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And as I ask above, Tony, if it is the Israeli blockade's that's keeping the poor, poor Palis down, why do their Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian and Lebanese neighbors have roughly comparable levels of underdevelopment?

  • John||

    That is the Jews fault too. Remember, it always comes back to the Jews for people like Tony.

  • ||

    Because they're primitives. Allah's an asshole, and his dictations are the stuff of torturous nightmares. Don't expect his mortal disciples to build any successful societies.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Even Saudi Arabia has a lower per capita GDP than Israel.

  • The Derider||

    They don't have roughly comparable levels of underdevelopment.

    GDP/Capita (Purchasing Power Parity)
    Lebanon 15600
    Egypt 6500
    Jordan 5900
    Syria 5100
    Palestine 2900

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And by the same metric (PPP), Israel's per capita GDP is $31,005. So, you're talking the best case (Lebanon) with a per capita GDP roughly half of Israel's. Fine, we can throw that one out. But, $6,500 versus $2,900? The difference is, frankly, trivial. It may not be for the purposes of their happiness. Fine, but completely irrelevant. We're asking whether much of the discrepancy between Israel and the Palestinian territories can be explained by the blockades. And I'm sorry, but a $24,505 difference versus a $28,105 difference is beside the point.

  • John||

    You are right Tony. We clearly need to start stoning homosexuals to death. Sorry but it is the only path to economic success.

  • ||

    Don't be ridiculous. The solution is in decapitating prepubescent girls for adultery.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The ideal, Tony, is to only call people racists when they actually *are* racists, instead of flinging the term around in a cavalier fashion.

    There is NEVER a good reason to resort to terrorism, by the way. Murder and property destruction are crimes.

  • ||

    Treating all cultures as equal is extraordinarily retarded, because they're not. Civilized, moral discourse and action is an aberration among these people, and barbarian is what they are, primarily due to their despicable religion -- one that foundationally defines their culture.

    Of course, from a practical perspective, I don't give a fuck. It's none of our business. Let them bleed each other until the end of time, for all I care.

  • John||

    Like I said above, if culture doesn't matter, we could adopt a strict theocracy similar to Saudi Arabia's and not suffer any loss in economic growth.

  • ||

    It's unconscionably retarded horseshit. No offense, but what did you guys spike Chapman's taco with?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Chapman's post is standard liberal racism. No need to spike his tacos with anything - that was done to him in college.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Chapman demonstrates once again that he is a crypto racist idiot.

    Equating race with culture is racist.

    Cultures change over time. The culture of England used to include killing witches and incessant internal warfare. Their culture changed over the course of several centuries to include conditions conducive to economic progress. Likewise, America's culture was once one of wide open liberty in all spheres of life and has slowing been moving in the direction of stifling nannyist tyranny.

    But Chapman sees the culture of a country as an eternal function of the dna of that country's inhabitants, aka race.

  • ||

    It's doubly funny when one notes that Islam is a missionary religion, and racial distinctions, much less discriminatory ones (racism), are exceptionally unlikely to be a factor in anything these people think or do.

  • The Derider||

    This is true of Christianity as well, but racism and racial distinctions have informed what Christians think and do for significant portions of history.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    This is true of Christianity as well, but racism and racial distinctions have informed what Christians humans think and do for significant portions of history.

    Fixed that for you.

  • Jeff||

    Chapman is definitely an Obama voter, through and through.

  • The Derider||

    You have a significant reading comprehension problem.

    How can you read this paragraph:
    Attributing the Palestinian stagnation to a malignant culture breeds a dangerous complacency by suggesting Israel has no capacity to help. It casts a bad light on all Palestinians, including the ambitious and hardworking. It encourages the smug assumption that some fatal flaw in Arabs or Muslims dooms their countries to failure.

    And conclude that he sees culture as a function of a country's DNA? He concludes the opposite is true.

  • affenkopf||

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except they don't. Unless you consider per capita GDP of $6,500 a year "much higher" than per capita GDP of $2,900 a year.

  • affenkopf||

    Yes, I consider a GDP per capita that is more than double as high to be much higher.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except it's not. You're using the wrong baseline. If you had an annual income of $20 and I had an annual income of $100, I'm making five times what you are. But, guess what? Neither of us is making squat if the next lowest guy on the list is making $50,000. The proper baseline for comparison here is the Israeli per capita GDP of $31,005. In which case we're comparing slightly over 9% and slightly under 21%, a 12% differential, not exactly front page news.

  • SAL||

    Of course culture matters to the extent that it influences institutions and rule of law. I guess the point Chapman is making is that, ultimately, the quality and size of government are better predictors of a country's development than culture per se (otherwise how can one account for the two Koreas, Ireland, Chile, Hong Kong etc?).

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    ". It encourages the smug assumption that some fatal flaw in Arabs or Muslims dooms their countries to failure."

    GEE, DAVEY. YA DON'T SUPPOSE THAT'S MAYBE DUE IN PART TO A PREDOMINANTLY FANATICAL ADHERENCE TO A RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE WHICH DEMANDS THEOCRACY AND SUBJUGATION, DO YA?

  • JeremyR||

    Yeah, but from a atheists point of view, all religions are equally bad, thus Islam can't possibly be the problem, since it's no worse than Christianity or Zoroastrianism or Sikhism, even though those are all dramatically different.

  • jason||

    I think lots of arab countries are facing this problems and few revolutions get success too, no body knows what happen with this Syrian revolution.

  • Brian from Texas||

    I baffles me how so many Lefties in this country feal sorry for the Palestinians. They brutally persecute women, their gay community, religious minorities and secular Muslims. Until they get their own house in order when it comes all of what I just mentioned I'm not going to cry any crocodile tears over how the Israelis treat them.

  • kwais||

    Hmmm, I don't know, religious fanaticism can sometimes be a product of poverty and misery.

    It is easier to not believe in God, when you will have medical help if hurt, if you are not likely to face death in the week.

    Palestinians were more secular before they were engaged in a population struggle.

    ""I would have joined a terrorist organization.""
    -- Ehud Barak's response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Ha'aretz newspaper, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian.

    What would you do if you were a Palestinian?

  • Dr. Thaddeus Tingleberry||

    One supposes that the construction of Jewish-only roads, destruction of villages and crops to make way for Hasids from Brooklyn who are - ahem - "returning" to the "Holy Land", total control of import/export by the Jewish state has little to do with the economy being sub-par.

    Indeed, as we all know, Israel is always the victim, merely trying to colonize and appropriate more land, define its state as an theo-ethnarchy, and slowly expel the natives - and there's nothing wrong with that, you see, because todays Jews directly descend from the ancient Hebrews who, according to the Bible, if not the historical or archaelogical record, they like, totally used to rule the area, and pretty much no one else lived there, and especially not the Arabs, who all came to Palestine in the 1930s from Jordan, apparently.

    And if you think Jewish only roads and towns and constantly stealing water and land and destroying homes seems like APARTHEID... you're an "anti-Semite" which means, in Newspeak "one who criticizes Jews or Israel for things which one would readily criticize others for."

    Go back to sleep, little Libertarians.

    The good folks running Likud have your best interests at heart, because they subscribe to a universalist ethic, and not at all the ethnocentric/racialist one which one might infer from literally hundreds of passages in the Talmud.


    http://tinyurl.com/c9hvmk2


    Go back to sleep.

  • Mike1776||

    A couple of things about Israel

    1. 20% of the Israel population is Arab
    2. 20% of the Israel population is Jewish Orthodox

    Jewish Orthodox for the most part do not work within the economy. Most of their income is black market income so while they are included in the population head count their income for the most part is not. This lowers the Israel per capita income signficantly

    Arabs in Israel like in the rest of the world have a lower per capita income than non Arabs except in oil producing countries. However, in oil producing countries while the per capita income is higher the median income is not.

    The reason that Arabs tend to have a lower income has to do with their language and their religious leaders. Arabic is one of the hardest languages to learn to read and write. Most Arabs are kept illiterate by their religious leaders. Religion has been used from time immemorial to control people. In Arab countries it is no different. The Mufti's and Imam are the educated ones and intentionally keep the majority of the populations in Arab countries dumbed down just like slave owners in America did with the Blacks.

    There are not of illiterate people in today's world that make much money. It is no different in the Arab world or among the so called Palestinians.

    In this case Romney is absolutely correct.

    People can argue on this all they want but if they take the time to research the facts they would learn the truth.

  • Mike1776||

    Another interesting fact about Israel is that the Jewish population has a life expectancy of over 80 for males and over 85 for females.

    In fact Bnei Brak with a population of about 150,000 is the most Jewish religious city in Israel and the poorest city in income among predominately Jewish cities there. Yet the life expectancy in Bnei Brak is among the highest if the highest in the world with many of its citizens living to well over 100. Bnei Brak happens to be a suburb of Tel Aviv so it is not located away from the world but in fact right smack in the middle of it. Despite Bnei Brak's extreme poverty its extraordinary long life expectancy is not genetic and completely shoots down the idea that poverty as the main cause of a shorter life expectancy.

    Why the people in Bnei Brak live longer has nothing to do with genetics but to that culture thing. The same holds true in N.Y. city but in the opposite direction. N.Y. city has the highest rate of heart attacks in America. This is due to the lifestyle; i.e. culture in N.Y. which creates a world of extreme high stress and the resulting inordinate amount of heart attacks compared to other cities.

  • Ardelle||

    How come? Not, as you might think, because of Israel's higher defense costs, which he noted were financed mostly by foreign governments and contributions from Jews elsewhere. The key factor, he wrote, was that Hong Kong's government never spent more than 15 percent of its national income, while "government spending in Israel was at times close to 100 percent of national income."

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