The U.S. Republican presidential hopeful, whose own net worth is estimated at roughly $250 million, went on to compare Israelis' economically comfortable existence with the more straitened circumstances in Palestinian areas. The comment predictably drew the ire of Palestinian leaders, with one senior official deriding it as "racist."
Despite the controversy, Romney then doubled down on his argument in a short op-ed for the National Review, asking, "But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?"
Unfortunately for Romney, the answer is: quite a lot. ...Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson, authors of Why Nations Fail, writing in Foreign Policy
Foreign policy believes Romney tipped his hand while in Israel and, as a presidential candidate, showed some pretty bad cards. It's institutions, not culture, that give the advantage.
...As economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein point out in their recent book, The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, the origins of the high human-capital levels of Jews are in the historical adoption of educational institutions in Jewish society that induced people to become highly educated. This decision then led Jews to have a comparative advantage in trade and commerce -- specializations that have served them well in the modern world. This is where the roots of Israel's current prosperity lie, because these highly educated people migrated there, bringing their institutions with them. ...FP
When Romney spoke that day in the King David Hotel, he was speaking -- no doubt about it -- to the extreme right in Israel as well as to the extreme right of the US. I think he knows better. Just not officially. But extremism is what he has chosen to embrace.
It's what he has discarded as inconvenient truths that tell me he'd make a really lousy president... And at a time when we're living in a really lousy nation. Successful nations, as Acemoglu and Robinson point out, "have created inclusive political and economic institutions. These spread political power broadly in society and make it accountable; they create an economy that can harness the talents, skills, and creativities of the vast mass of their citizens."
Inclusivity? Shared political power? Accountability? Broad prosperity? Look at the past thirty years! Those are the last things the Republican leadership wants to embrace. They seem bent on creating an America in which they are Israel and we are the Palestinians.