The Power of the Poor

I just watched the Free to Choose Network’s new documentary featuring Hernando de Soto, The Power of the Poor. I was going to write a review for, but, since New Zealand is in the middle of nowhere and my copy didn’t arrive until after the program aired in the states, I’ll offer some briefs thoughts here.

The central idea of the program, as in most of de Soto’s work, is that formal titling allows people to leverage their property to take out loans and pull themselves out of poverty through entrepreneurship. The show has some great examples of this.

What I was most impressed with, though, was de Soto’s willingness to understand the reasons people have for opposing his views. Despite being the target of an assassination plot by the Maoist thugs Shining Path, de Soto empathizes with the group’s supporters. Whenever people feel excluded from capitalism, they’ll seek alternatives. For rural peasants whose interests are not served by the state, Maoism seems like an attractive option.

When people do evil things, it is seldom because they have evil intentions. It takes a great man to recognize that is true even of those who would have you killed.

Thanks to Max Borders of Free to Choose for sending me a copy. If I lived in the States and neglected to mention that, by the way, I would be risking an $11,000 fine.

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