In a Must Read OpEd, Mitt Romney double-downs on his belief that “Culture Does Matter.”
Three paragraphs standout :
During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.
But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.
Israel is also a telling example. Like the United States, the state of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.
So Culture-Warrior Romney basis his assessment on a number of factors :
Our work ethic.
If work ethic is measured by number of two-job families (after all that was Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) said in 2008 –
I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.
… of course, her comment was to justify the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations – instead of working Americans – by arguing that people actually like working long hours.
Our appreciation for education
Well, in July, a Harvard University study of international and U.S. state trends in student achievement growth shows that the United States is squarely in the middle of a group of 49 nations in 4th and 8th grade test score gains in math, reading, and science over the period 1995-2009.
Students in three countries – Latvia, Chile, and Brazil – are improving at a rate of 4 percent of a standard deviation annually, roughly two years’ worth of learning or nearly three times that of the United States.
Students in another eight countries – Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia, and Lithuania – are making gains at twice the rate of U.S. students.
Our willingness to take risks
Yep, as candidate Romney told students at Otterbein University,
“Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.” The statement is in context of a story where a friend of his borrowed $20,000 from his parents
Our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves
? ? ? What does that mean ? ? ? Did candidate Romney have a response at The CNN/Tea Party Republican debate (September 12, 2011) when Wolf Blitzer asked Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul if society should let an uninsured man in need of expensive intensive care die, a startling number of audience members screamed out in the affirmative.
Yep, America is the TEA Party Capital of the World.
But that’s America … Culture-Warrior Romney wants to talk about Israel … where they are the world leader in medicine … well, does Culture-Warrior Romney know the Israel efforts on stem-cell research ? Talmudic tradition dictates that life begins significantly after conception. An embryo that has been harvested before reaching 40 days lacks any claim to human rights, according to a Gemara passage that deems it maya b’alma, “mere water.” In fact, because of the Jewish imperative to help humans in need of treatment, promoting these advances constitutes a special mitzvah. The law allows researchers to use embryos left over from in vitro fertilization, with informed consent. This has enabled scientists to establish new human stem-cell lines. Just last month, pioneer stem cell research was announced by Bonus BioGroup that they have developed to grow human bones outside the body.
Another area is in new technology … while candidate Romney bemoans of “Obama’s Government Motors”, the Government of Israel is a prime investor in Better Place, the electric car company founded in 2008
But Culture-Warrior Romney does not mention a number of other factors of Israeli life.
While student in 1965, as an undergraduate at Stanford, Culture-Warrior Romney not only supported the war in Vietnam, he participated in pro-war protests (that’s Romney holding the “Speak Out Don’t Sit In” sign on the right ).
Student-Romney never served in the military … however, under Israel Universal Service law, everyone serves … and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — well, it Don’t Matter — everybody serves … gays and straights.
As previously mentioned, Israelis have government MANDATED healthcare … and the Government exerts great control over other prices … for example, fuel prices which were just increased … Excise tax and VAT combined makes up 54% of the consumer’s fuel prices.
And the Government of Israel ability to impact the price can be at the whim of the people’s complaints … as in last February, when the tax was not increased because of protests.
And there have been many other protests by the middle class … such as the “Cottage Cheese” protest bringing crowds in excess of 300,000 citizens to protest government policies that adversely affect the working class.
Culture-Warrior Romney had a friendly audience (some were Americans who flew in to participate in the fundraiser) … but did he get out to see the people on the streets ?
Mr. Romney’s OpEd is insulting and politically stupid … giving a new “cover-boy” for elitism … something that someone whose small business investments include a dressage horse, Rafalca, and is in building a home with a elevator for his automobiles … Yep, “Culture Does Matter.”