The People Speak Again


(1) From TD : On The Problem Of Using Immigration (A Permanent Population Increase) To Deal With A Temporary Economic Boom :

Below is a translation done by TD of the first two paragraphs of a column by the Elsevier columnist Syp Wynia. (Elsevier is the worlds leading publisher of science and health information. It serves more than 30 million scientists, students, and health and information professionals worldwide.)

“The Spanish government is saddled with hundreds of thousands of unemployed, low-skilled immigrants from Africa and Latin America. They have become such a burden that the government intends to offer them a “departure bonus” if they are willing to return to their country of origin and stay there for the time being. My first reaction: serves them right. 4 years ago, the Spanish government gave resident status to 800,000 illegals from Africa and Latin America. This was such an encouraging signal that tens of thousands of Africans took the risk of getting into rickety boats in the hope of benefiting from this policy or a similar one in the future. Now the unemployment rate among the non-Spanish population is 25%.

“That's what happens when the wrong labor is imported for the wrong reasons. Spain thought that the boom would last forever and it did little to encourage its own unemployed to enter the labor force. It allowed millions of foreigners to settle in the country …. Moreover, the socialist government believed in the fallacy that also many in the Netherlands still accept, namely that mass immigration is an effective remedy against the problem of aging. Now that especially the construction sector is being hit hard, the Spaniards are left holding the bag. Nobody is talking about aging anymore.”


(2) From DC : How Emigration From Zimbabwe Relieves Pressure On Mugabe's Gov't, But Creates An Explosive Situation In South Africa :

Zimbabwe illustrates how emigration allows countries to export problems and how emigration can delay political reforms. It should be obvious that Zimbabwe has massive problems. This has led millions of Zimbabweans to go abroad to SA, where they are competing against domestic unskilled labor, which is already superabundant and therefore plagued by high unemployment and low wages. The results have been the recent “xenophobic” attacks on foreigners. Zimbabwe simply exported its self-inflicted economic problems to SA.

Of course, this would not have been possible without the indulgence of the SA government, which has done very little to stem the massive inflow of Zimbabweans into its territory. Countries can't export their problems through emigration unless the country that is importing them allows it to happen.

What would have happened if no Zimbabweans had been permitted to settle abroad? Most likely, the economic situation in Zimbabwe would have become so desperate that there would have been a massive popular uprising and the overthrow of Mugabe's regime. In the short term, the situation might have been even worse, but the long- term prospects of Zimbabwe would have been better.

Emigration is a safety valve that helps tyrants to stay in power. When people know that they can't go abroad to escape the problems of their country, they have a very strong incentive to try to solve or mitigate those problems, while governments, knowing that the safety valve of emigration does not exist anymore, have stronger incentives to improve their performance.


(3) From WT : On The Weak Logic About Canada's So-Called Need For Foreign Workers In Its Natural Resource Sector :

Reality can be complex, and therefore it is easy to misinterpret it and draw false conclusions. However, we can all avoid obvious mistakes, such as the one that Tom Kent made in The G & M recently. He wrote an article in which he contended that Canada is not a hotel and that there should be more stringent citizenship law, which would, among other things, terminate dual citizenship.

However, he also maintained that Canada needs more immigrants because it is underpopulated relative to its natural resources. That belief, common though it is, is completely nonsensical. How can anybody seriously believe that Canada is underpopulated because of its abundant natural resources when less than 5% of the labor force is employed in the primary sector and when about 75% of immigrants settle in 5 urban areas.?

It is the primary sector that exploits natural resources. If less that 5% of the labor force is sufficient to do that job, then it is abundantly clear that Canada is not underpopulated relative to its natural resources.Tom Kent simply made an obvious mistake, which is all the more remarkable in a man of his distinction.


(4) From TB : On Delusions About Using Brazilian Biofuels To Satisfy U.S. Energy Demands And End Reliance On The Middle East :

It is not only in British Columbia that politicians and others indulge in delusions about energy. (NOTE: The delusion in British Columbia is as follows: British Columbia recently introduced a carbon tax in order to decrease GHG emissions. However, it continues to increase its number of emitters by promoting immigration and a larger population. Ultimately, British Columbia will negate all gains made by the carbon tax. In fact, its total GHG emissions will increase. )

Let's do a few calculations to show U.S. delusions about Brazil. Every year the IBGE, the Brazilian StatsCan, publishes a figure of the total harvest of gros (edible seeds such as corn, a source of ethanol). For the 2007/2008 season it was 130 million tons. At Brazilian yields, this should have required about 40 million hectares.

Ethanol from sugar cane is a much more beneficial fuel than ethanol from corn. There are two basic reasons for that. First, by using corn, it is possible to obtain at the most 3500 liters of ethanol per hectare, while by using sugar cane, the yield per hectare can be up to 7500. Second, the EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) is at best only 1.4 for corn while it can be more than 8 for sugar cane. Invest 100 units of energy in corn ethanol and you may get 140 units back. (According to some it is less than 100.) Invest 100 units in sugar cane ethanol and you may get 800 units in return.

Therefore, if every one of those 40 million hectares had been used to grow sugar cane instead of gros, Brazil could have produced 280 billion liters of ethanol.

Each American consumes on average about 4000 liters of oil per year, which works out to 1200 billion liters. If we assume that one liter of ethanol contains as much energy as one liter of oil, then Brazil could satisfy only about 1/4 (280/1200) of the American energy needs that currently are satisfied by oil, even if it converted all of its land now used for growing gros to sugar cane fields. Of course, this is totally unrealistic because, first, the Brazilians have to eat too and, second, most of the land used to grow gros isn't suited for sugar cane, which requires a hot climate.

Actually, ethanol contains less energy than gasoline. If you can drive a certain distance with 10 liters of gasoline, you'll need 14 liters of ethanol to drive the same distance.

The above calculations should demonstrate how delusionary it is to think that Brazil can become the new Middle East of energy. People overlook that even in Brazil, ethanol satisfies only about 15% of total energy needs, and the only reason why this percentage can be so high is that per capita energy consumption in Brazil is rather low. Average energy consumption in Brazil is about 1/8 of what it is in the US. This means that, if Brazilians were to consume energy at the American rate, the current output of ethanol could satisfy only about 2% of Brazil's energy consumption.