Two-thirds of the world’s population lacks access to a formal system of property rights.
The great economic divide in the world today is between the 2.5 billion people who can register property rights and the five billion who are impoverished, in part because they can’t. Consider what happens without a formal system of property rights: Values are reduced for privately owned assets; wages are devalued for workers using these assets; owners are denied the ability to use their assets as collateral to obtain credit or as a credential to claim public services; and society loses the benefits that accrue when assets are employed for their highest and best purpose.
.. two-thirds of the world’s population lacks access to a formal system of property rights, resulting in undeveloped resources and assets worth an estimated $170 trillion, or 63% of the value of the assets of the U.S.
.. Hernando de Soto—discovered that even in the most primitive societies records exist on who owns what. Based on this discovery, ILD undertook an organized effort in Peru to begin to assimilate and formalize these records to establish a registry of property ownership.
.. We first collaborated in 1990 when Peru sought American assistance to replace the gun with the rule of law by officially recognizing that the indigenous Peruvians’ primitive property records were legal proof of ownership.
.. Blockchain is an especially promising technology because of its record-keeping capacity, its ability to provide access to millions of users, and the fact that it can be constantly updated as property ownership changes hands.
If Blockchain technology can empower public and private efforts to register property rights on a single computer platform, we can share the blessings of private-property registration with the whole world. Instead of destroying private property to promote a Marxist equality in poverty, perhaps we can bring property rights to all mankind. Where property rights are ensured, so are the prosperity, freedom and ownership of wealth that brings real stability and peace.
Trump’s Threat to Democracy
four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:
- The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules.
- He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents.
- He or she tolerates violence.
- He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.
.. “With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.”
.. democracies are more likely to wither at the hands of insiders who gain power initially through elections. That’s what happened, to one degree or another, in
- Russia, the
- Sri Lanka,
- Poland and
.. Venezuela was a relatively prosperous democracy, for example, when the populist demagogue Hugo Chávez tapped the frustrations of ordinary citizens to be elected president in 1998.
.. the Venezuelan public overwhelmingly believed that “democracy is always the best form of government,” with only one-quarter saying that authoritarianism is sometimes preferable. Yet against their will, Venezuelans slid into autocracy.
“This is how democracies now die,” Levitsky and Ziblatt write. “Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box.”.. he has tried to undermine institutions and referees of our political system: judges, the Justice Department, law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I., the intelligence community, the news media, the opposition party and Congress. But to his great frustration, American institutions have mostly passed the stress test with flying colors... Levitsky and Ziblatt warn of the unraveling of democratic norms — norms such as treating the other side as rivals rather than as enemies, condemning violence and bigotry, and so on. This unraveling was underway long before Trump (Newt Gingrich nudged it along in the 1990s), but Trump accelerated it... It matters when Trump
- denounces the “deep state Justice Department,”
- calls Hillary Clinton a “criminal” and
- urges “jail” for Huma Abedin,
- denounces journalists as the “enemy of the American people” and
- promises to pay the legal fees of supporters who “beat the crap” out of protesters... The answer, they said, is not for Trump opponents to demonize the other side or to adopt scorched-earth tactics, for this can result in “a death spiral in which rule-breaking becomes pandemic.” It’s also not terribly effective, as we’ve seen in Venezuela... they suggested protesting vigorously — but above all, in defense of rights and institutions, not just against the ruler... build coalitions, even if that means making painful compromises, so that protests are very broadly based.
Voices from the Incas’ past
Undergrad deciphers meaning of knots, giving native South American people a chance to speak
For centuries, Diego couldn’t be heard. A peasant who had lived in a remote village in the Inca Empire in the late 1600s, he existed only as a nameless number recorded in a khipu, a knotted rope system kept for census counting and bookkeeping.
But a discovery by Manny Medrano, a College junior who lives in Eliot House, has begun to reveal Diego’s secrets, details about not only the man’s identity and class status in his village, but also his way of life.
“It’s giving the Incas their own voice,” said Gary Urton, chair of the Anthropology Department and Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies, who guided Medrano in his research. “I could never figure out the hidden meanings in these devices. Manny figured them out, focusing on their color, and on their recto or verso (right-hand and left-hand) construction. This was the only case we have discovered so far in which one or more (in this case six) khipus and a census record matches.”