Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Economist on Romney's Trip: Horn-honking, Floppy-shoed Clown Show

To make matters worse, Mr Romney got his numbers wrong. Per capita income in Israel is over $31,000; in the Palestinian territories it is closer to $1,500. Those aren't the kinds of numbers that divide industrious Protestants from happy-go-lucky Catholics. They're the kind of numbers that divide South Korea from Ghana. You don't get those kinds of divisions because of cultural differences.

The reason most Palestinians have low third-world income levels is that they are born into impoverished towns or refugee camps inside the gerrymandered Bantustans of the Palestinian Authority, where border crossings are controlled by Israeli military authorities, water sources are tapped to feed Jewish settlements, Israeli-built infrastructure bypasses them, the education system is funded by paltry international contributions and paltrier taxes, agricultural land is periodically taken by Jewish settlers whose illegal seizures are retroactively approved by the government, land values are undermined because of the overhanging threat of expropriation by Israel, and on and on through all the savage indignities and economic violence of a 50-year-long occupation by people whose ultimate goal is to force you off as much of the territory as possible. Obviously, gross corruption by Palestinian officials and counterproductive political and economic attitudes on the part of Palestinian citizens, mainly typical adaptive behaviours that any people tend to develop when they're confined to massive donor-supported detention zones, have made the situation much worse. Palestine was not going to be a wealthy nation under any circumstances. But without the occupation they might have been as wealthy as, say, Jordanians, who have a per capita income (purchasing-power-adjusted) of $6,000. Read the whole thing