Saturday, April 15, 2006

Arabs--Laggards of the Modern World?

Since the 1960s, arab countries have lagged badly behind most other nations, except african nations. The Strategy Page recently offered a few comments on this issue:

Since World War II, the Arab world has lagged the rest of the planet in economic growth. For example, 300 million Arabs, and all that oil, generate less economic activity than Spain, and its population of 40 million. The main problem has been bad government. Too many dictators, and too much government restrictions on the economy. Too much corruption and waste. Even higher oil prices don't help, as it simply provides more money to be wasted on consumption, rather than business investment.

One of the things that has been changed in Iraq is the way the economy is regulated. Since Saddam was tossed out in 2003, the economy has been governed by Western rules. As a result, GDP per capita doubled by the end of 2005, and the GDP is expected to grow another 49 percent by 2008. All this despite continued attacks by Sunni Arab rebels on oil facilities and other economic targets. It's much easier to start a business in Iraq now, even though there's still a lot of corruption. The big change is that now the corruption is illegal, and there is even progress in prosecuting the government officials who take bribes or try to shake down businessmen. Lebanon is the only other Arab state to run its economy in a Western fashion, and they have thrived. However, Lebanon also interrupted their success story with a fifteen year (1975-90) civil war. Iraqis are well aware of that, and have no illusions about what happens if everyone does not get along. Another thing haunting Iraqis is the most successful economy in the region; Israel. This is also the country most like the economically successful Western states. Iraqis can't really talk about it openly, but the "Israeli Model" is discussed.

In spite of all that oil, something is holding arabs down, making them the laggards of the modern world. Humble little Spain is more an economic powerhouse than all the arabs. What is wrong with all of them?
Arabs are not adding value to their children--there is no added "human capital" in arab societies. Arabs have to import their professionals, engineers, and technicians. Measures of years of schooling in arab countries are pathetic, but do not accurately reflect the huge tragedy, since much of the schooling that does exist is counter-productive schooling in arab supremacy, religious fanaticism, and ethnic hatred. If arabs did not have dreams of bloody conquest of infidel lands, they would have only dreams of stolen glory.

When the oil does run out, the western infidel world will use other fuels besides arab oil. What do the arabs propose to do for economic output then? It seems that their oil only postponed the day of reckoning.

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