One possible result of “the Street” taking over the Arab Mideast: Camp of the Saints to the nth power

(Note, Jan. 29: Alexis Zarkov writes, below, that the concerns about Egyptian demographic catastrophe are overstated.)

E. from Florida writes:

My read on the news is that there is now unrest in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, and Albania, with maybe more to follow. I’ll diverge from the typical analysis and look at the longer picture. While most of these countries have an autocrat type government, I’m not sure that’s the worst thing that might befall them. Most of them have very few resources or industries or exportable commodities within the countries. In other words, most of them have next to nothing to offer the rest of the world. All of them have huge populations, given their resource base, and all of them are expanding very rapidly. I checked the populations of Egypt and Yemen today versus what they were when I was born in 1947. Egypt has grown from 19 million to 82 million (1947 and 2009 estimates) while Yemen has grown from 4 million to 24 million in the same period. Egypt also has exported millions of people as witnessed by our cab drivers in the U.S. Egypt would be more populous than 82 million if they hadn’t exported a good number of their people. While Mrs. Clinton might decry government by autocrats, I rather doubt that the alternative would be better. Do we really think that those who will follow can actually make these countries function? If international investments dry up and tourists go elsewhere, the countries will be worse off under whatever type of government replaces what they have now (I’m guessing the new won’t resemble Vermont town meetings all that much). These countries do not even remotely grow enough food for their populations.

So, if the “street” manages to overthrow the current rulers, I’d expect the situation will get worse, not better.

My worry is that these countries total more than 200 million in human population. There is a huge industry in the U.S. and other Western, European countries, that lives off of the refugees and asylum seekers (Refugees, Inc.). I hate to imagine how many of these 200 million might make a claim to move to Europe or the U.S. as a refugee or asylee. And it will grow worse if their economies collapse and they have no money to import the over 50 percent of the basic foodstuffs they need to keep their populations alive.

I’ll repeat. Egypt alone has 82 million people living off of a piece of land (it’s a river running through a desert) that might support fewer than 10 million if left to its own. Yemen has 24 million people living off a desert and some oil that will soon run dry up no matter who is in charge.

The future will not be pretty. I fear that our homegrown goody-two-shoes types will import their problems and make our situation only the worse.

- end of initial entry -

Mark Jaws writes:

I don’t think our goody two shoe types will get away with importing the Arab Street onto Main Street. The Right now knows that have no more money, and we are also mindful of the threat Moslems pose. And although the white masses have been like the proverbial frogs on a slow flame, the mass importation of now unassimiliable and dangerous Arab hordes, will serve to raise the flame dramatically.

January 29

Alexis Zarkov writes:

E. from Florida expresses concern about the growing population of Egypt, Yemen and other Arab states. This “ticking population time bomb” theory has been around a long time, and I think it’s exaggerated. From 2000 to 2009, Egypt’s population grew at a rate of two percent per year. However this growth rate is unlikely to persist because Egyptian fertility has been falling. To get an idea of future growth, we look at Total Fertility Rate (TFR). Egypt’s TFR has been dropping over the last ten years from 3.15 to 2.66, see here. The TFR estimates the number of children born per woman over her reproductive life. In theory when TFR= 2, the population eventually becomes stable with no growth because each woman replaces herself and one man. In reality not every woman survives to bear children so we need a slightly higher TFR for no growth, TFR= 2.1. If Egyptian fertility were to stabilize at TFR= 2.66, then it’s population growth would eventually stabilize at 0.84 percent per year. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Egypt’s real GDP growth is currently 5.4 percent per year. Over the last ten years, its GDP growth rate has bounced around, but five percent per year looks typical. Thus I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Egypt will enjoy positive future growth in its real per capita GDP. I think this whole idea that Egypt and other Arab states are headed towards some kind of Malthusian economic collapse is bogus. The facts don’t support such pessimism.

So why are we seeing riots in Egypt and other Arab states? I think the current unrest in the so-called Arab Street was triggered by sharp increases in food prices. Bad weather in Russia and Australia has reduced their wheat exports, and we have shortages in other agricultural commodities too. The ever-stupid corn ethanol program has also added to the shortage problem. Of course food price increases are but the spark that ignited the tinder box. The Arabs don’t like their autocratic governments, and the food shortages provide a good excuse to topple them. I afraid a lot of Arabs want something like the Islamic Republic in Iran. They will be happy to starve for Allah.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 28, 2011 06:36 PM | Send

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