Why the poor stay poor

John Stossel via House of Eratosthenes:

Of the 6 billion people on Earth, 2 billion try to survive on a few dollars a day. They don’t build businesses, or if they do, they don’t expand them.
Unlike people in the United States, Europe and Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc., they don’t lift themselves out of poverty.

Why not? What’s the difference between them and us? Hernando de Soto taught me that the biggest difference may be property rights.

I first met de Soto maybe 15 years ago. It was at one of those lunches where people sit around wondering how to end poverty. I go to these things because it bugs me that much of the world hasn’t yet figured out what gave us Americans the power to prosper.

I go, but I’m skeptical. There sits de Soto, president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Peru, and he starts pulling pictures out showing slum dwellings built on top of each other. I wondered what they meant.

As de Soto explained: “These pictures show that roughly 4 billion people in the world actually build their homes and own their businesses outside the legal system. … Because of the lack of rule of law (and) the definition of who owns what, and because they don’t have addresses, they can’t get credit (for investment loans).”

They don’t have addresses?

“To get an address, somebody’s got to recognize that that’s where you live. That means … you’ve a got mailing address. … When you make a deal with someone, you can be identified. But until property is defined by law, people can’t … specialize and create wealth. The day they get title (is) the day that the businesses in their homes, the sewing machines, the cotton gins, the car repair shop finally gets recognized. They can start expanding.”

That’s the road to prosperity.

An intriguing assertion.  Read the whole thing and it might make better sense.

Or you could believe what Mike at Waving or Drowning seems to be asserting in his piece titled The Theology of The Lottery of Life:

My trick knee starts to ache when I hear people refer to the ‘goodness’ of their life–good job, kids, spouse, house, health, etc.–as God’s blessings. It’s always bothered me because if we consider these things as blessings from God, then what must we think about those who lack these same things? At best, must we consider that they’re ignored or forgotten by God, and at worst, are they cursed?

As I said, this concept has bothered me for a long time, but the following images really drove the point home this week.

Save the Children have launched a piercing ad campaign called The Lottery of Life. (h/t to My Modern Met)

You can see some of those “piercing” images at the links provided but if I’m reading Mike’s words correctly, words coming from a bonafide Religious Leftist, one’s walk in life isn’t so much defined by whether or not you’re blessed (or using Mike’s lexicon, cursed) but by whether or not you’ve hit it big in the lottery of life.  In other words, it’s all about blind luck.  That’s a hell of a thing to be believing in my view and seems to turn traditional Christian thinking on its ear.  Here’s hoping I’m misunderstanding the man.


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