Friday, August 3, 2012

Culture, Prosperity, and Islam

-Oh, the vitriol that can ensue in our day when anyone notes the truth.

"That came on Monday when Romney addressed the stark economic differences between Israel — a high-tech powerhouse with the per capita income of a developed nation — and the poorer Palestinians. Romney told an audience of affluent Jewish donors — including gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is pumping millions into a crusade to defeat President Barack Obama — that some economic historians have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."

"You notice a stark difference in economic vitality" between Israel and the Palestinians, Romney said, proceeding to badly flub the economic output numbers on both sides. "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," he said, citing an innovative business climate and the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances."

Mitt Romney, possibly unwittingly so, waded hip-deep into the waters of a modern Kulturkampf.

Palestinians played the race card, insisting that his remarks were racist. This ignores several points:

-Romney was clearly referring to cultural, and not ethnic, differences, and the contrast was obviously between Islamic and Jewish culture.

-Islam is not a race, so even the most anti-Islamic remark cannot be racist.

-Palestinian and pro-Palestinian members of Academia have claimed (Terribly wrongly) that Jews are really just Arabs*, so if we apply their own logic, we would simply be contrasting one Arab group against another.


The Left too quickly joined in on the protests against Romney for daring to suggest that culture plays an appreciable part in the economic prosperity of a nation. Leftist thought requires that all cultural attributes be dismissed out-of-hand from any discussion about economic conditions. To a Leftist, all accomplishments are simply the product of a people having been privileged to be in the right (Or wrong depending on who's talking) place at the right time. Those who were fortunate enough to gets their hands on resources and know how to use them prospered, those who never got the chance were subsequently oppressed and missed out on the bonanza.

The attitude that environmental factors were, not appreciable, but essentially the only reasons that some societies developed and prospered while others did not, made great headway due to the influence of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. Diamond's book is a prime example of how Liberal thought has been employed to rewrite history in a manner that excises all cultural factors of peoples that likely contributed to economic development.

Suffice to say for now, factors that were not, or barely considered, in Diamond's work are at least as important as what he included. Many regions of the world had animals and plants that could be domesticated, mineral resources, and soil/climates conducive to agriculture. Some of these developed complex societies, but generally did not experiment with metallurgy, writing, and creative thought in a manner that compared to Western, pre-Islamic Middle and Near Eastern, and Far Eastern Societies. The introduction of iron-working into non-Eurasian regions, in some cases many centuries before the era of Colonialism, did little to change the mindset of the affected peoples. Precious few  non-Eurasian regions were unaffected by warfare or migrating peoples, factors which are often cited as the main catalysts for development of military strength. Many societies, even after being exposed to modern ways, reverted back to tribalism and mass-oppression of the have-nots the moment that the evil colonialists left town.

Romney's comments, especially as they concern a society established and maintained by Islam, are particularly noteworthy. The Middle east is literally swimming in a sea of petrodollars, yet Islamic societies there have changed little since since the days in which the treasury of the rulers of Arabia (The Sauds were not always in power) was kept in or under a mattress. The colossal wasting of money on palaces that would have made Versailles look like a dilapidated trailer park in the Southeastern US, cars with exteriors of silver (Metal, not color), and other insane expenditures that do nothing to prepare the region for the day when the oil is gone or no longer needed baffles Westerners. While people in much of the Islamic world, including that of the Middle East, wallow in extreme poverty, the elite spend in ways that our rich people would never even contemplate.

A brief look at the countries and regions of Europe illustrates what Romney noted; Spain, Portugal, Greece and the rest of the Balkans, and Sicily, all ruled for centuries by Islamic dynasties, have never recovered fully or caught up with their brethren in more Northerly regions. Regions that suffered from short-lived Islamic rule or from centuries of continual Islamic slave and booty raiding, such as coastal areas of Southern to Central Italy also have lagged far behind their neighbors to the North, who only had to deal with wars between States of similar cultures.The Northern African coastline, once a home to a strong Catholic culture and strong agricultural and trading communities, was repeatedly ravaged by the successive waves of Islamic invaders (At times sent against other Muslims) and is now quite backwards.

Without a constant influx of new wealth, such as that obtained by conquest and consequent liquidation of a new territory's wealth, or a free source of revenue like petroleum, Islamic societies stagnate even more than they do now. In the centuries/decades during/following the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, population growth in Islamic nations of the Middle and Near East was close to zero. I believe that this necessity to constantly conquer new nations to simply maintain, or arrest the decline, of an Islamic nation's current prosperity was the prime factor in the three attempts by the Ottomans to subjugate Austria. Note that the final, and almost successful, attack on Vienna occurred in 1683, exactly and only one hundred years prior to the recognition by the British government of the sovereignty of the American Republic. Jan Sobieski and the rest of the (Mostly German) allies arrived at that city with their armies in the nick of time.

As I am dog-tired, I will only briefly note that Jewish culture has been a major factor in the prosperity of the Jewish people. Their adherence to limited government, a business-friendly outlook, an insistence on properly educating their youth (Both in religious and professional education), and their sense of identity as a people,  have all come together to create what we see today in Israel and in Western nations with sizable Jewish populations.

A big hat tip to a guest contributor Samuel (From the Biblical one) for the following link and quoted excerpts:

"Saudi Arabia has no Israeli checkpoints, no Israeli soldiers or planes flying overhead. It has wealth literally pouring out of the ground with a fifth of the world’s petroleum reserves. And yet the IMF puts it 13 places behind Israel and the World Bank puts it 8 places behind Israel. The only Muslim countries with a better GDP Per Capita than Israel are small monarchies drowning in oil.

The non-oil Muslim countries who are closest to Israel are Malaysia and Lebanon, 32 and 33 places behind Israel. Both countries also have sizable non-Muslim populations. Muslims make up only 50 percent of Lebanon and only 60 percent of Malaysia. No Muslim country without oil has a better GDP Per Capita than a Muslim country with sizable Christian or Buddhist minorities.

What Romney didn’t mention, but should have, is that the Palestinian Authority dealt yet another blow to its economy when it drove out the Christian population. Christians in the territories have traditionally made the best businessmen and the capital of the Palestinian Authority was actually started by Jordanian Christian refugees escaping Muslim persecution.

Israel has 1.2 Muslims inside the Green Line who account for 52 percent of its social benefits. Israel’s national unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. The Arab unemployment rate is 27 percent. Only 59 percent of Muslim men and only 19 percent of Muslim women are officially part of the workforce. That’s compared to 56 percent of Jewish women and 52 percent of Christian women.

The average Israeli family has double the monthly income of the average Arab family. Half the Arab sector officially lives in poverty. The Israeli Jewish GDP is nearly three times higher than the Arab-Israeli GDP.

This could be blamed on the usual scapegoat of racism, but the Israeli Arab GDP of $6,750 is actually better than the $5,900 GDP in neighboring Jordan, the $6,540 GDP in Egypt and the $5,041 GDP in Syria. This is the same range in which most non-oil Arab Muslim states are grouped and it is clear that there is no escaping it without a big petroleum reserve. Or like Lebanon with its $15,523 GDP, a whole lot of Christians to actually work for a living.

Again culture is the determinant. Israel within the Green Line only has about 150,000 Christians and about as many Druze, and both groups perform better economically. Christian Arabs have a higher employment rate and a better rate of higher education than Muslims.

Apart from that official 1.2 million, Israel is also responsible for the 4 million in the Palestinian Authority (some of whom overlap with that 1.2 million and some of whom are imaginary and exist only to collect benefits from international agencies) who are still Israel’s responsibility, according to them and to the world, even though they also continue insisting that they want their own state.

The reason why the GDP in Palestinian areas is so terrible is because its inhabitants live in a giant welfare state. Palestinian Arabs were already receiving 725 dollars in per capita assistance. They don’t need an economy because the United States and the European Union are their economy. They don’t need a state because the UNRWA is their state.

It’s easy to admire Israel for what it has accomplished, but it stands out so much because of the region it’s in. Singapore and Hong Kong are less remarkable because they are in a region where countries don’t just give up and wait around for foreigners to come and find oil on their land. In Asia, countries make things happen for themselves. In the Middle East, if you’re not Jewish or Christian and you don’t have oil, then you have economic problems.

But let’s leave the Middle East and head over to Asia. India and Pakistan are divided by a GDP Per Capita difference of almost a thousand dollars. India is naturally in the lead. Within India, Muslims are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Their per capita GDP is lower, their literacy rate is lower and they perform worse than Hindus. And yet the average Indian Muslim annual income at 513 dollars is still higher than the average annual income in Pakistan at 420 dollars. This remains consistent with the higher Arab-Israeli income and lower Jordanian Arab income model meaning that Muslims in non-Muslim countries will earn less than the majority, but more than they would in a majority Muslim country.

In Africa, Muslim Somalia sits next door to Ethiopia and Kenya and its GDP is so small it can’t even be registered compared to $1,093 and $1,746 for them. You might try to blame Somalia’s civil war, but Rwanda, which experienced a genocide, has a $1,341 GDP. Niger with an 80 percent Muslim population and a $771 GDP sits next door to Chad with only a 53 percent Muslim population and a $1,865 GDP. Next door Cameroon has a 70 percent Christian majority and a $2,257 GDP.

In Britain the myth of the hardworking Bangladeshi or Pakistani storekeeper is practically sacred. In reality 70 percent of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis live in low income households, compared to 50 percent of Africans, 30 percent of Indians and 20 percent of the natives. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis not only have dramatically higher unemployment rates than natives, but they have higher unemployment rates than Africans.

If the issue were racism, then their unemployment rates would be in line with far lower Indian unemployment rates. Instead Muslims have the worst economic record in the UK. Pakistani Muslims in the UK are three times more likely to be unemployed than Hindus. Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed as Indian Hindus.

Again this fits the same model of Muslims from non-Muslim countries being less economically inept than Muslims from majority Muslim countries. The crucial difference between minority Muslims and majority Muslims is culture. Minority Muslims do have their own culture, but no minority group can entirely escape the values of the majority culture. Arab Israelis and Indian Muslims absorb enough of the values of the majority culture to perform better than their neighbors in Jordan or Pakistan. And they even carry on these absorbed values when they move to another country.

We can see the direct consequences of those values in action. In the UK, Muslims have the highest dropout rate and lack of qualifications of any religion. They have the highest male and female unemployment rates. This isn’t racism, this is Islamism.

Muslims have the highest unemployment rate in Ireland. In Belgium, Moroccans and Turks have a five times higher unemployment rate of the native population. In Australia, Muslims have twice the unemployment rate of non-Muslims and forty percent of their children live below the poverty line. Muslims also have the highest unemployment rate in Canada, 14.4 percent to a national rate of 7.2 percent.

Responsibility is the missing element. It’s the character value without which there can be no economic success. The same lack of responsibility that manifests itself after a Muslim terrorist attack, when Muslims rush to position themselves as the victims, rather than dealing with the violence in their midst, also manifests itself in the economic arena and in every aspect of life. This lack of responsibility is a failure of values that cannot be escaped or ascribed to racism, the occupation or the boogeyman."

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