Dedicated to Naomi Klein et al
A picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I don’t have any pictures, but the following data provide a fascinating story. Before I present them, I want to emphasize Canada’s greatest strengths: freedom of speech, action and mobility; separation of church and state; democracy and meritocracy. Of course, there are some constraints on each. But overall, these are the characteristics of which Canadains should be extremely proud.
Canada does not have a monopoly on any of these. The U.S., Australia, many countries in Europe, and a smattering of countries in South America and Asia also share these characteristics, more or less.
To the data, all of which are taken from the IMF, and are expressed in U.S. dollars for the year 2008.
The four major Anglo-American countries have GDP per capita in the $44,000 to $47,000 range. There are several countries in northern Europe with greater GDP per capita, and several others in the EU have comparable GDP per capita. All of these countries have similar characteristics, other than language and degree of government involvement in the economy.
Some other countries of note with GDP per capita in brackets: Singapore ($39,000), Hong Kong ($31,000), Israel ($28,000), South Korea ($20,000), Taiwan ($17,000), and Russia ($12,000).
I will now turn my attention to two groups of countries: Muslim majority countries, and non-Muslim majority countries in Africa.
Majority Muslim Population:
OPEC (including former members): Qatar ($93,000), UAE ($55,000), Kuwait (46,000)
GDP per capita ($15,000-$20,000): Libya, Saudi Arabia
GDP per capita ($2,000-$5,000): Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq
Non-OPEC, excluding central and southern Africa: Brunei ($37,000), Bahrain ($27,000), Oman ($19,000), Turkey ($10,000)
GDP per capita ($5,000-$9,999): Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia
GDP per capita ($1,000-$4,999): Egypt, Jordan, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen
GDP per capita ($400-$999): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan
Non-OPEC, central and southern Africa:
GDP per capita ($1,000-$1,999): Djibouti, Mauritania, Senegal, Sudan
GDP per capita ($400-$999): Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Guinea, Mali, The Gambia
GDP per capita ($200-$399): Niger, Eritrea, Sierre Leone
Non-Muslim Majority, Africa
OPEC (including ex OPEC): Gabon ($10,000), Angola ($5,000), Nigeria ($1,500)
Non-OPEC: Equitorial Guinea ($15,000), Seychelles ($10,000)
GDP per capita ($5,000-$9,999): Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa
GDP per capita ($1,000-$4,999): Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland, Zambia
GDP per capita ($400-$999): Benin, Central African Republic, Ghana, Lesotho, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda
GDP per capita ($100-$399): Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Malawi
So what is the story?
First, most Canadians spend more each year at Tim Horton’s than the GDP per capita in many countries in Africa. Second, the Israel-Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with the poor showing of many Muslim majority countries. Their problems are internal.
Third, and probably most important, the talents and potential of too many people are wasted, and this is truly tragic! Fourth, tribalism (maitre chez nous — sounds familiar) and corrpution are stifling the growth and potential of many countries, and likely more than one billion people.
Finally, there is hope, as some countries have demonstrated, especially the ones that do not have the oil wealth, but are mimicking the strengths of Canada and other wealthy countries.