The Corner

A Dash of Pessimism

Hey Jonah: Nice tribute to the transformative powers of American culture. There is a great deal more to be said about that, though. I have said some of it in my book (which you should buy!), quoting good, careful, multi-generational studies like this one. And when will the transformative power of our culture work its magic on the Haitian street gangs that have been plaguing Miami for years (and seem to be metastasizing)?

It is all very well to say that we need to transform Haiti’s “culture of poverty.” Does anyone actually have a clue how to do that? And are your “culturist” assumptions anyway solid enough to serve as a basis for public policy? They seem to me to belong in the realm of good manners and social taboos, not in the realm of fact.

Haiti isn’t actually that poor. The CIA World Factbook lists 229 nations and territories by GDP per capita. Twenty-seven of them are as poor as Haiti, or poorer. Here are their names.

The Gambia; Uganda; São Tomé-Príncipe; Burma; Burkina Faso; Guinea; Mali; Nepal; Comoros; Madagascar; Tokelau; Ethiopia; Mozambique; Togo; Sierra Leone; Rwanda; Afghanistan; Malawi; Central African Republic; Niger; Eritrea; Guinea-Bissau; Somalia; Liberia; Burundi; DR Congo; Zimbabwe.

Lots of luck fixing that “culture of poverty.”

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