Most economists and political scientists who talk about "culture" annoy me by lumping together two different things. The first is "political culture" - cultural attitudes about which government policies are good, efficient, etc. The second is "personal culture" - cultural attitudes about work, education, sobriety, family, etc.

It is often the case that, at least from the standpoint of economic achievement, a people has a great personal culture but a bad political culture. The Jews are my favorite example: great work ethic, strong emphasis on education, etc. that allow them to prosper given decent economic policies, combined with deep-rooted support for socialism and antipathy to free markets. Thus, Jews are more prosperous in the U.S. where they are a tiny minority, than in Israel where the median voter is Jewish.

Now Pete Boettke asked me if there are any peoples with the opposite combination: bad personal culture, good political culture. The best example I've come up with so far is the Irish, who at least lately have adopted relatively sound economic policies, but still appear to have stereotypical problems of alcoholism and the like.

Has anyone got better examples?
                        Prof. Bryan Caplan
       Department of Economics      George Mason University      [EMAIL PROTECTED]

  "It is a talent of the weak to persuade themselves that they
   suffer for something when they suffer from something; that
   they are showing the way when they are running away; that
   they see the light when they feel the heat; that they are
   chosen when they are shunned."
             Eric Hoffer, *The Passionate State of Mind*

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