Good on him

Property rights champion Hernando de Soto wins Friedman Prize for Liberty. WASHINGTON–The Cato Institute today announced that the winner of the second biennial Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty is internationally recognized economist and property rights activist Hernando de Soto. The prize and its accompanying $500,000 cash award will be presented to de Soto May 6 in San Francisco. Named after Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, the prize is awarded every other year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of human freedom….

Beginning in his native Peru, de Soto has focused on a revolutionary concept that is having repercussions throughout the world’s poor countries: the lack of formal property rights as the source of poverty in poor countries. His decades of pioneering work, before presidents and in the streets on behalf of property rights for the poor, have led to global acclaim. As de Soto explained in his 1986 book The Other Path, these de facto owners were locked out of the formal, legal economy–and that was the root of the problem. “They have houses but not titles; crops but not deeds; businesses but not statutes of incorporation,” he wrote.

I don’t know how keen I am on the notion of awards and whatnot, but at least one is going to the good guys for a change. De Soto’s work was truly pioneering, and certainly had an effect on my understanding of poverty, even if I recall him being a little debt-friendlier than I would generally approve. As usual, note that it’s the State causing problems – although I don’t see why it’s necessary to turn to the state in order to fix them.