Are some cultures inherently “better” than others?
It’s a question many have pondered and one that is in the news again thanks to the media trying to paint Mitt Romney as a racist who holds that view when he did not say that at all.
What he actually said was:
I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like 10,000 dollars 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. One, that is widely acclaimed, is by someone named Jared Diamond called ‘Guns, Germs and Steel,’ which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth. And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here. And likewise other nations that are next door to each other have very similar, in some cases, geographic elements. But then there was a book written by a former Harvard professor named ‘The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.’ And in this book Dr. Landes describes differences that have existed—particularly among the great civilizations that grew and why they grew and why they became great and those that declined and why they declined. And after about 500 pages of this lifelong analysis—this had been his study for his entire life—and he’s in his early 70s at this point, 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.
Do you see racism there? I don’t. I see someone pointing out that more freedom generally produces better economic results than less freedom. The simple fact is that Israel’s economy is much better than that of the Palestinians. And yes, perhaps some of that is due to travel and shipping restrictions, which liberal reporters are quick to point out. But they never seem to mention why those restrictions are in place. If they did, then they’d have to call attention to the many decades of Palestinian and Arab aggression that caused Israel to impose the restrictions, thus belying their original contention of racism.
The fact is, some cultures are superior to others in fostering innovation, risk-taking, and economic advancement for all. Does that make them “better?” I guess it depends on how you define “better.”
I think an easy way to settle such an argument is to look at the number of people who want to go live in a nation. Do you see hoards clamoring to get into Mexico, China, North Korea, or the Palestinian-controlled territories? Or do you see them heading to America, nations in Europe, Australia, and, yes, Israel?
No nation is perfect, especially America. But all-around, it’s still a damn sight better than Mexico or China or lots of other places on the planet, including the Palestinian territories. And all this media baloney aimed at Mitt Romney is little more than an attempt to steer the election conversation away from the horrendous job performance of Barack Obama.
I’m no fan of Romney, as you know if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile. But I’d much rather have a president who believes in American exceptionalism than I would one who goes around the world apologizing for our success and then comes home and tries to turn us into bankrupt Euro-weenies.
What about you?
Do you think some nations “better” than others? If so, in what way(s)?
And which kind of president will you prefer to have come 2013?