The Power Of The Poor

  1. The story of how one man's ideas, together with a dedicated army of lawyers and activists, defeated the guns and bombs of Peru's Shining Path.

    Hernando de Soto and his team of researchers found that an astonishing ninety-eight percent of all businesses in Peru were extralegal… as was eighty-eight percent of all rural property. Extralegals had constructed seven out of every ten buildings… had run almost all of its public transportation system…and built and owned the vast majority of Lima's markets. It was clear… the majority of Peru's entrepreneurs had been locked out of the legal system. De Soto and his researchers at the Institute for Liberty and Democracy would risk their lives to let them in.

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  2. De Soto’s organization, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), sends scores of researchers out into the slums and rural areas of developing world to gather data. They have found that, though the vast majority of citizens in most developing nations live outside the official, well-connected economic system, they all still have very specific rules to govern their interactions. The ILD’s goal: to help developing nations give the poor access to the business and property institutions that will allow them to participate in the broader economy.

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  3. De Soto has documented that in the world of the poor, it takes months or years to get an official title to a home, write legal contracts, or legally open a business. It takes hundreds of steps to set up a corporation. There is no credit. The poor can’t prove that the house they live in, their largest asset, is even theirs.

    Since they can’t get into the formal economy, they have set up their own, informal economy. It exists outside the formal written system, but has its own specific rules and processes.

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  4. In the shanty towns of the world, two thirds of humanity are locked in poverty. There’s no drinkable water, sewers, and little electricity. Though they work very hard, these people remain firmly shut out of the economic mainstream.

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  5. Across the globe, millions are on the move in the biggest migration in human history. They are going from farms to cities, and from poorer to richer nations. For the first time in mankind’s history on earth, more people now live in urban areas than rural. This brings unique and difficult challenges.

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The Power Of The Poor

Free To Choose Network PRO

To those who watch television in the developed world, there doesn’t seem to be a better system on earth than the capitalist system. We are experiencing the longest economic expansion in modern history. Soviet Communism has been defeated.

But make no…


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To those who watch television in the developed world, there doesn’t seem to be a better system on earth than the capitalist system. We are experiencing the longest economic expansion in modern history. Soviet Communism has been defeated.

But make no mistake, as we will demonstrate in this program, capitalism is surprisingly vulnerable. The moment of capitalism’s greatest triumph is the moment of its greatest crisis, its “Moment of Truth.” In fact, capitalism is not working for the vast majority of humanity that lives on the planet. Two-thirds of the world’s population have been locked out of the global economy, forced to operate outside the rule of law, they have no legal identity, no credit, no capital, and thus no way to prosper. Hernando de Soto and his team of researchers found that an astonishing ninety-eight percent of all businesses in Peru were extralegal… as was eighty-eight percent of all rural property. Extralegals had constructed seven out of every ten buildings… had run almost all of its public transportation system…and built and owned the vast majority of Lima's markets. To unlock The Power of the Poor is to change the world. If we fail, these people will turn against capitalism as they have turned against other failed economic systems, and that could make for a very difficult, violent time.

Filmed on location from Latin America to Africa, The Power of the Poor will demonstrate how free markets, individual freedom and especially the right to property can transform the poor into the most powerful resource in the world. At its heart is the potential triumph of capitalism as a system.

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